I’m so proud of the guys who have taken my basic HTML course I have been teaching at Friends of Design college in Cape Town. Friends of Design is a hip new design & web college based in Cape Town. They have quickly made a name for themselves and I believe are set to change the way students launch themselves into the creative & web industries.
I’ve never taught a formal class like this before and it’s been a challenge, though a really rewarding challenge. The course is one of the reasons for my slow blogging of late.
I’ve just completed teaching a 3 week evening class covering HTML & XHTML basics as well as CSS. The cool thing is I never studied html, so this time around I had a chance to learn a few lesser known html thingies I never even knew existed.
Learning while I teach
The course covered everything from the starting <html> tags through to <div> layouts. I had to cover a few areas like table layouts which I absolutely hated but helped the students get a good idea of how and how not to use tables. After completing the unit covering accessible tables & forms I started gaining a newfound respect for these 2 areas of html which I had a really bad relationship with previously.
Other challenges which helped me with my own HTML skills, were the questions and problems the students would bring up which forced me to dig a little deeper into the subject. It’s quite a humbling experience when a newbie comes up with a problem you have no idea how to fix and you still need to teach them how to go about trouble shooting the whole thing. More often than not it’s a really small issue like a misplaced closing tag or some or other character out of it’s proper place. This is where colour coded editors like dreamweaver and text mate come in handy. I find my students are really lost without the colour coding as it clearly allows them to distinguish between html, comments and php codes.
To help give the students a more detailed resource I had to do some scouting around and found sitepoint’s code references for both HTML & CSS which are of the best reference resources on the subject for beginners. I found the WC3 pages way too ugly and academic in their approach to teaching html.
Student Work to be proud of
Handre v.d Merwe is one of the students who has show exceptional talent. He has progressed to the point of launching his site(www.libertad.co.za) a few days after the HTML module was completed. He’s already quit his job “not my doing”, and is well on his way to entering the world of web development.
The challenge of teaching WordPress development
My class has 6 students and we have currently moved into the next module which is 4 weeks of wordpress. I don’t know of any other wordpress courses running locally, and one of the main challenges was setting the curriculum and developing a process to take the students through from scratch.
My students have never been exposed to wordpress before this class, so we started with an overview of what a cms is, then into specifics about what wordpress is.
I’m hoping to wrote a text book which should be completed by the end of the 4th week but so far it’s been slow going with all my other commitments.
Some of the basic principles of how wordpress works have proven to be huge challenges to explain to students who have only just recovered from a blast of HTML, XHTML & CSS. There were a few things i thought would be extremely simple to understand that I struggled to get across. This part has been a real growing experience for me in terms of teaching.
The exciting thing is last night we started converting the students’ html templates from the first module into simple themes and loaded them up live.
At the end of the course I hope to post the students’ portfolios and help them find some gigs to start them on their way to a new career in web development.