web design classes


As this quarter draws to a close, I'm already thinking ahead to next quarter's web design classes. I'm teaching two of them--one undergrad, one grad. They're very similar, but in the grad class I often take on real-world projects (non profits, preferably) and focus more on the context and users, and in the undergrad class I focus a little more on the back end tech.

The experiment with my MT courseware in my intro class this quarter was moderately successful. Not as interactive as I would have liked, but that's partly (if not mostly) my fault--I didn't provide the sparks that might have gotten more of a conversation going.

I used a class weblog in last year's web design class, and gave all my students authoring capability. This quarter I'm going to keep control of the class blog, but encourage students to use comments and trackbacks (from their own class blogs). I'll probably set up specific items that are intended for trackbacks--topic-focused posts that encourage aggregation of related resources.

The nice thing about using weblogs in a web design class is that the weblogs are both a communication tool and a teaching medium...as they learn CSS design techniques and backend programming, they apply those to the weblogs they're using in class.

The ongoing problem in those courses, however, is the tension between wanting to explore conceptual and theoretical aspects of the web environment (from aesthetics to cognition to social impact) and needing to impart specific technical skills.

The pressure for the latter comes from both the students (who at RIT are very career and skill-focused) and the downstream professors in the concentration-level web development courses. The pressure for the former...well, that comes mostly from me. I regularly tell my students that the sign I've seen on a colleague's door in the imaging arts & sciences college--the one that says "Those who know how work for those who know why."--is more true than they realize.



I recall that you posted links to some of the student blogs that were named Maple, Birch, and ?

Browsing student blogs was interesting and I've since found a few extraordinary student blogs from your links. I'm interested in watching blogs that progress over time, getting a view of the action before the blog is sophisticated - the raw blogs.

I hope that when it is time you will post student blog links again. Thanks, you always have interesting ideas and good reading here.

An interesting idea. What happens if the students have nothing to blog about, though? Have you encountered resistance in this area?

The class blogs aren't intended to be for general musings (though they're welcome to use them for such)--instead, they're supposed to blog the class materials and readings, as well as their in-class exercises and assignments. As long as they do that, they're fine.

The few that do end up loving the blog medium generally create a separate personal blog--part of what they do in the class is install MovableType on their RIT account, so it's easy for them to create multiple blogs if the spirit moves them.

Meg, the site will be public, and I'll post the URL soon. The students' sites will be listed in the sidebar once they've been created. Since Brendyn and Jay (see my RIT blogs sidebar) have both enrolled in the class, you can be assured that there will be at least two active bloggers in the bunch. :)

Though I am taking the course primarily for the technical skills it offers, I also wanted to take your section in particular. From the enthusiasm and understanding of conceptual aspects of the web environment you project through your myriad blog postings, I am certain it will be a very rewarding class no matter how you decide to teach it.

I'll keep watching for the URL. Thank you Liz.

Professor Lawley's classes are very rewarding indeed - I knew I was in the right field and major way back when during the fall quarter of my freshman year. I had her for the introduction to multimedia and web class, again for web site design and implementation spring of my sophomore year.

There is a definite passion for technology and excellence in Professor Lawley and it certainly shows in and out of the classroom.

By the way, there will be at least 3 active bloggers, not two - you forgot me. :-)

Thanks, Carlo. But you don't count as a student _in_ the class next quarter. :)

Details, details... ;-)

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This page contains a single entry published on November 16, 2003 12:01 PM.

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