Monday 9 May 2011

HTML&CSS From the beginning - Week 1

HTML & CSS From the Beginning

The theme of the week is “Hello World” (and each other) and it’s the introductory week on the course.

I’ve set the group five tasks this week.


Initially I wanted no more than 20 people in the class and I had over 50 applications. Deciding who was in and who was not was simply too hard, so in the end I opened it up to everyone. Other course leaders on P2PU do report high drop out rates, so we’ll see how many last the distance.

I’ve recently had a very positive experience as a student under this approach ( hello Laura and Rohini ) so I hope the same can be said for my students. In any eventuality I’ve split the class into groups of 5 or 4 and I’m encouraging each group to interact internally and provide feedback and support to each others learning.

###Hello World

The obligatory hello world exercise, done by rote. I’m aware that learning by rote is an outdated method of teaching but there are times when a task ( such as boilerplate HTML ) is suitable for this approach. I’ve asked the students to spend five minutes each day practising this until they can do it from memory.

I’ve been deliberately vague with instructions because there learning how to wield their text editors is as big a part as learning HTML and there is no way I can cover all the text editors in the world. If there is one part of this week that will not go as hoped, I think it will be this and I can forsee myself having to provide a fair bit of support for this.

I’ve asked the students to either link to their files online, submit screenshots of their code or upload a handwritten version to their blog so that members of the group and myself can provide feedback.

###View Source

I learned almost all of my html from viewing the source of other peoples websites and I’m encouraging students to do the same. Spending the week viewing the source of the websites they visit. I really want them to get to appreciate the value of this.


I was tempted to write all of the resources for the course myself. At some point in the future I might, and this whole experience may serve as research, but for now I’m going to consume and direct students to the resources that already exist. This week I’m sending people over to to absorb Norm’s - Basics of HTML. It actually goes a lot further than the coverage for this week, but that’s ok. People who want to go further can and those that are new to this all can take their own time.


Every week will involve reflection. Over the first semester of my MA I’ve came to recognise the power of reflective practice as a vehicle for change and learning. It’s a brilliant way to learn and I can use the reflections as a source for feedback. According to Professor Hattie feedback has the largest effect size on a students learning. Given the size of the class however, I’m not sure if it’s going to be possible to get round all of the students each week.