First Week of Class

I made it through the first week of teaching. On the first day, I introduced the syllabus and gave students an assessment on HTML & CSS. Out of 19 students, only one had 8/10 right. The majority of the class handed in blank. Although this is an upper level class, I understand why many of them don’t know the basics of HTML & CSS. The curriculum doesn’t put the emphasis on the technical aspect of it. I want to change that. To be in the web field, students have to know how to code or at least they have to understand the language to speak with the developers.

In order to get the students to learn HTML & CSS quickly, I am making the coding assignment as simple as possible. I want the students to learn the new HTML5 elements right away and not have to worry about supporting older browsers. (That should be the job of the front-end developer.) They just need to know the essential elements of web design. I am using my 13 years of experience in web design to provide them what they need to learn in one semester.

On day two, I showed the class HTML5 Boilerplate. I stripped the default template down to its core and walked them through line by line starting from the doctype. They seem to get it right away. For our first project, I asked them to design a web site specifically for smartphone devices only. When I send out my syllabus to have a few professors look at it, they warned me that I should narrow down the scope and give the students some limitations. I went ahead and kept it open. The result was that students came up problems that they want to solve. For instance, one mother came up with a concept of creating a site about food allergies because her two-year-old daughter has severe allergy reaction. I was thrilled that all 18 students came up with each unique concept. We’ll see how they’ll execute them.

As for my own class, I am taking Experiential History of Graphic Design, which is a “hybrid lecture/studio course provides a historical perspective of the evolution of graphic design and examines graphic design’s contribution to culture through writing and design projects.” We’re starting with calligraphy, something I have never done before. I am a bit worried about the midterm and the final exam. I have never done well on tests.

Meggs’ History of Graphic Design, the book I spent reading over the summer, turns out to be not the required textbook for this class. Graphic Design: A New History by Stephen J. Eskilson is the required book instead. Unlike Meggs’ which goes all the way back to how writing started, this book begins right on Johannes Gutenberg. It’s a good read so far.