Monday 13 June 2011

HTML&CSS From the beginning - Week 4

I’ve had a two week break from the P2PU work in order to focus on completing my PGCE work and attend DIBI. If you’re in the UK you should attend DIBI and if you went this year then it does raise the question should you go to DIBI next year?.

Now that those events are over with, I’ve been able to catch up on marking the P2PU stuff ( over 120 blog posts to comment on - eek ) and get lesson 4 completed. I always knew the first time doing this course would be the hardest because as much as I planned the scheme of work at the start, I didn’t plan the lessons. This was because I’d never taught in this environment before and I knew that I’d have to experience it, before I could design the lessons - I was right. Luckily the feedback is good and the students feel engaged, but I am finding the one lesson per week hard. Next time when I run the course I’ll accept a maximum of 20 people to keep feedback time to a minimum and I’ll have all of the lessons already completed. It should be less work : )

So lesson four was the last week that we’ll be focusing on HTML only. The aim was that up until this point everyone worked on their knowledge of tags and experimented with marking up the world around them to find their ‘markup’ groove. This week is the final week on that task and they’ve been asked to complete four tasks. As usual there is a mixture of practical tasks, reading and reflection.

The World Around You - III

The World Around You - III has the students seeking out examples of various tags in the world around them, capturing their inspiration with a photo or sketch and them marking up their idea. They’re asked to run their markup through the W3C validator ( ignoring the one warning about experiment conformance checking) and then place their work into the public folder in their dropbox and then collate everything into one blog post, like in my example.

I did ask for this task to be done in the last lesson, but many students didn’t complete it. I can probably attribute that down to not communicating very well on my behalf, so this is why I’ve done the example.

There is a lot of work to do in this task because it really is a case of practice makes perfect. I discovered in my previous efforts to teach the subject that jumping into design websites is not the best idea because the students immediately focus on the aesthetic and forget the content. Doing it this way gets the students focused and engaged on the content. It may not be Halvorson style content strategy, but it certainly sets the foundations for it and aligns the approach of design with some of the ideas outlined by Mark Boulton in his blog post “A Richer Canvas”.

Self Assessment & Tables.

The students assessed themselves at the start of the course. It was my intention to use this as a guide for entrance to the group, but I did eventually just let everyone in ( I am a romantic no brain ). Being a fan of self assessment I hope to see that the students are going to improve their marks of themselves in relation to their HTML skills. If they do, my methods could be deemed to be working but only time will tell on that front.

To make this task more interesting and developmental for the students, they are to construct their own tables to enter the data into. I couldn’t miss this chance to re-enforce what tables are for, whilst dispelling the myth that tables are the work of Mephistopheles. The right tool for the right job - ‘nuff said.

Reading & Reflection.

I’ve asked the students to read “A Dao of Web Design” by John Allsop after being pointed at it via Jefferey Zeldman at DIBI. I had came across it but never really absorbed the message in it. It is amazing to think that it was written 11 years ago and remains as relevant today as it was when it was originally written. Particularly because one first glance and at a philosophical level it seems to have a lot in common with the approach taken by Ethan Marcotte in “Responsive Web Design

Finally when they’ve digested all the info and completed the tasks they’re going to reflect on the tasks.

I just hope that the pause in lessons hasn’t affected anyones motivation, that would certainly debit from my happy account.