Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Teaching -- ITD 210

The above snapshot was a quick one taken after teaching my first NVCC class, ITD 210 - Advanced Web Design.

The goal of the class is to teach students how to write and read more sophisticated web resources, from tricky HTML tables, to JavaScript.

The actual class currently has 5 students (though we can take more -- so if you live in Northern VA, now's the time to sign up!), and they are all very nice folks. The put up with me as I was late to the class, wasn't able to get into the room (had to sell my soul to get past the guards) and had minor technical difficulties with the computer.

Our first class consisted of talking about Personas and other website design tools.

In terms of technology to teach the course, I'm using the LaTeX class Beamer to write my lectures notes in. This turns out to be a really impressive package. You can create interactive slideshows, yet they are 100% pure PDFs. So, it works on any OS Acrobat does, and is printable. I also made use of my trusty Mach 256 MP3 player as a thumb drive to pull a file off of when it wasn't on the website correctly.

The experience of teaching, which I haven't done in years, was quite a lot of fun. The one thing that still blows my mind is as follows. When I pitch a new concept to a geek, inevitably, the concept is challenged. Am I sure that Personas are a useful tool? Why did I insist on using a short name in the URL? Why have multiple iterations of the same site, vs. new sites? When you teach, and you introduce an idea, you know what the students do? They write it down. Naturally, discussion and debate is important. But, in general, students actually believe what you say (or they assume you are going to test them on it -- so they better learn your view). This is real power, and makes me appreciate that I better be careful of what I say.

Please don't hesitate to review my syllabus and give me suggestions on what you would like included in this type of class. What do you wish someone had taught you in a web design course?


  1. Were you aware that Tim taught a very similar class at (I believe) UVA a couple of years ago?

  2. No I wasn't...I'll have to get tips form him!