Working together for standards The Web Standards Project

EduTF Report Highlights Curriculum Project

By Holly Marie Koltz | May 16th, 2008 | Filed in Curriculum, Education, Education TF, WaSP Announcement

The WaSP Education Task Force (EduTF) report updates our activity, announces new members, and offers a report on a Web standards based Curriculum Project.

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In the past year, the EduTF has been quieter than previous years. We have gone through a few changes, though our mission remains the same.

The WaSP Education Task Force was created in 2005 to work directly with institutions of higher education to help raise awareness of Web standards and accessibility among instructors, administrators, and Web development teams.

Our mission is not a small one. Our work and message needs to reach beyond our reading audience and the Web standards community in order to get information, help, and resources to more people. EduTF is discussing and looking at a variety of ways in which we can help.

To help with our mission, EduTF has added new members, including: Aarron Walter, Gareth Rushgrove, Lars Gunther, Jeffrey Brown, Kathy Keller, Christopher Schmitt, and Virginia DeBolt. Each member has experience with education and a strong passion for improving education in the area of Web standards and technologies.

One task the EduTF has been working on is the publication of the EduTF Survey results. We are reviewing the final draft of the publication and hope to share this information very soon.

The survey results have been very helpful in highlighting key needs, challenges and issues within the educational community and these will be addressed by the EduTF and also through our Curriculum Project.

The Curriculum Project will be a resource that could be used by those in education, as well as, anyone needing to update knowledge on Web related technologies.

Aarron Walter is leading our Curriculum Project and has this informative report to share:

The quality of Web design and development education in our schools is perhaps the most significant barrier preventing the world-wide adoption of Web standards. The EduTF has been hard at work this year developing a curriculum to address this issue. Our goal is to create a curriculum that is modular allowing courses to be selectively integrated into existing programs that need updating, or adopted entirely to serve as the foundation for new Web design and development programs in colleges, universities, and high schools around the world.

This is a big project. We’ve sought guidance from talented educators already teaching standards, and top industry professionals who have helped us identify the tools and topics each course should include. The EduTF is teaming up with Chris Mills of Opera who is leading an initiative to create a broad series of detailed articles that teach basic principles of front end development. These articles will be integrated into a number of courses to provide educators and students with practical references and a solid foundation in Web standards.

The curriculum will be released in stages, the first of which will include a core set of courses that address foundation topics such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, accessibility, information architecture, usability, and the history of the Web. In subsequent releases, courses will be added that address more advanced topics, and specific tools popular in the industry.

Each course will contain a collection of tools for educators including:

  • A course overview
  • Recommended course dependencies indicating what students will need to know before beginning each course
  • Learning competencies describing what students must master in order to receive a passing grade
  • Assignment recommendations and test questions that allow educators to measure a student’s mastery of each competency
  • Recommended readings from Chris Mills’ article series on Web standards and other reputable sources

We hope to release the curriculum in March of 2009 in an online format that will make it easy for educators to access and contribute back to the project. We view it as a living system which will be greatly enhanced by community contributions.

It’s a very big undertaking, but one that we believe could make a significant impact not only on the quality of Web design and development education offered in our schools, but also on the adoption rate of Web standards. If you’re an educator with pedagogical materials or ideas to share, please join the mailing list and our IRC channel to become part of the conversation. We welcome your support and inputs as we proceed with the development of the WaSP Web standards curriculum.

Your Replies

#1 On May 16th, 2008 11:23 am Daniel Schutzsmith replied:

This is terrific news! One of my main frustrations is the level at which I see students coming into my classes from other institutions that don’t place as much of an emphasis on standards as I do. Hopefully this curriculum sharing and the conversation that it will create, can bring us all up to the same level.

#2 On May 16th, 2008 2:16 pm Chris B replied:

This news is great indeed. I have just graduated myself with a B.S. in Computer Information Systems and I”ve noticed that most Computer Science programs or technology related programs at universities are outdated (when it comes to web design) and need some fresh advice from real world designers. Even if students aren”t going into a web development field, it is good to know the “correct” way instead of the outdated way.

Furthermore, what about higher levels of education (i.e. graduate programs)? I know this would be harder to put together but I”ve found people (including myself) who want to get more in-depth with a career in web design.

#3 On May 16th, 2008 3:18 pm Aarron Walter replied:

@Chris: Graduate level courses tend to focus less on how to do something (build a standards compliant document, use CSS to style a page, etc.), and more on theoretical stuff (nonlinear narrative, media theory). The initial release of the WaSP curriculum will be directed more towards undergraduate programs in colleges, and universities, as well as high schools. Our first priority is to help educators give their students a very solid foundation in standards and industry best practices.

We’ll continue to add courses to the the core curriculum to address advanced and niche topics, some of which will probably be more high level. If there are graduate level courses you’d like to see added in the future we’d love to hear your ideas.

@Daniel: Conversation is very important! Of course, once the curriculum is released we’ll need all the help we can get to spread the word and reach many educational institutions and accreditation bodies.

#4 On May 16th, 2008 6:54 pm WaSP Member hmkoltz replied:

@Daniel S. , I am so glad to hear you place a lot of emphasis on standards — and yes, it will be great when more do. I know of an instructor who was pushing for standards (1998), and did emphasize them in his classrooms, even though the department was not as standards minded as he was.

@Chris B. — we sure hope to get the message to CIS and CIT departments, too. I think it is important to know the standards foundations in order to build software and applications which support the same. I will go as far as feeling and thinking that Web standards are needed for any digital content or could be — so my feeling is that the very basics of standards should be in any course which shares information or requests work digitally. :)

#5 On May 17th, 2008 6:30 pm Manny replied:

The curriculum project is one a rich resource that will definitely be forwarded to our college’s Web-related academic faculty, Holly, Aaron and rest of EduTF team. Rock n’ roll and thanks!

#6 On May 19th, 2008 9:43 am Chris B replied:

“Our first priority is to help educators give their students a very solid foundation in standards and industry best practices.”

Aarron, you are right indeed. The community does need to help educators set the foundation. Maybe I’m thinking ahead of myself or in terms of myself.

But this is a good start. Hats off to the EduTF Team for taking up this cause!

#7 On May 20th, 2008 7:55 am Noclegi replied:

It’s great you deal with the education in this direction. I respect you for it very much because this subject is very important for me. I hope, that I will somehow manage to make advantage of it too. Greetings

#8 On May 27th, 2008 8:14 am Richard Morton - QM Consulting Ltd replied:

This is a great idea and it can only lead to improvements in the user experience of the web. My speciality is web accessibility and I would be keen to take part in these discussions but it appears that I wouldn’t be eligible as I have no educational experience.

As well as a large project like this, I think there is a lot that can be done at a local level just increasing awareness of standards in your local schools, and probably even simple things like encouraging IT teachers to make use of tools that produce standards based (and accessible) code by default.

#9 On May 27th, 2008 8:29 am Richard Morton - QM Consulting Ltd replied:

This is a great project. Encouraging the use of standards in schools and other academic institutions can only be good for the end user experience of the web.

I specialise in web accessibility and would be keen to take part in these discussions but it seems that I don’t qualify as I am not an educator. I think it would be good if the project did take in influence from people outside education as well.

#10 On June 9th, 2008 7:03 am Oren - Net Games replied:

Great news!

“Our first priority is to help educators give their students a very solid foundation in standards and industry best practices.”

Aarron, i agree with you. The community must help educators set the foundation.

#11 On July 2nd, 2008 4:02 am jbr replied:

great project

realy this is hard work keep it up….

#12 On July 22nd, 2008 10:50 am The Stephanie Sullivan Interview : Christopher Schmitt replied:

[...] like schools and universities, find it difficult to change rapidly enough. For this reason the WaSP EduTF, SoDA and Opera are all working on curriculums that schools can use that are actually useful for [...]

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