Loose notes from SXSW 2007 panel: Best Practices for Teaching Web Design
Taking one for the team here. Didn’t expect to learn anything new at this one, and didn’t, but since I’m teaching HTML to journalism students, thought I should be at this one. Mostly reiterating the struggle: We all know what we should be teaching, but practical constraints and .edu politics make it tough to get enough leeway to teach things the right way. Also a huge entrenched problem of HTML teachers not feeling the need to teach standards, or to even help students appreciate the subtle glory of semantic, well-structured documents. Schools want to go straight for the design and wizzy jugular before the basics are in place (felt like they were describing my life here).
Technorati Tags: sxsw2007
Teachers tend not to keep up with web technology – way too many teachers still teaching HTML rather than XHTML, or just going straight to teaching multimedia rather than at least starting with standards.
70% of jobs asking for XHTML and CSS skills (This is a subjective estimate by one of the panelists, not a hard stat). Not HTML 4.1. Responsibility to prep students for the real job market.
Think function, think message. Start with content/information structure. For some educators, thinking about semantics before starting on design is a huge paradigm shift. Essential to think about structured content first. Design/artistic direction comes later. This is how you get control of your code.
What makes a good web site? Because it makes money? Or because it has influence? Or because it looks cool? Our criteria:
– Understandable to all
– Workable in all devices
– Easy to use
– Appealing to look at
– Good content
You can no longer think in terms of your web site being consumed only by web browsers. And yet we still teach it this way. Need to prepare students to go into industry and create content that will be consumable on any client.
The usual buzzwords:
Separation of markup from presentaiton
Usability & information architecture
Students must be exposed to all of these concepts – spend time on each. We forget to teach students what a page of good, clean, semantic markup looks like. This stuff is holding up the rest of the universe.
Teaching it right begins with knowing it right:
– Keep up to date. Insist on adequate training.
– Exchange tips with your peers and coleagues
– Encourage reluctant colleagues to accept change.
– Choose textbooks that thelp you teach standards-based thinking
– Recommended books
– Your students may be skilled users of the Web and might know more than you do about certain things. Learn from them.
Understanding the Impact:
– Industry demands Web standards knowledge
– Are your students going to be employable?
– Students who want to learn standards may go elsewhere if your program isn’t meeting their needs.
– A reputation for turning out industry-ready students may have positive impact on your faculty/department budget.