Posted Friday, October 29, 2004 7:21:23 AM by Sheri German
I have been teaching Dreamweaver, among other Macromedia programs, at the Government Printing Office and Trinity University for the last five or so years. Kim's post about "friends don't let friends use fonts" really got me thinking about the evolution of my curriculum for web related classes. Macromedia has released a lot of versions of its various programs during that time, and this means I've needed to keep revising the exercises I give my students.
At some point I realized that it wasn't necessarily in my students' best interest to show them every single bell and whistle in Dreamweaver. In my enthusiasm, I would demonstrate everything from layout view to automatic table formatting to HTML Styles, whether I thought they should use that feature or not. I finally came to the conclusion that teaching a "best practice" workflow, as opposed to revealing every possibility, gave my students real concepts they could hang on to after they finished the course.
This brings me to the revolution that probably brought the biggest change to what I teach: Web standards. I now take my students through a very prescribed set of exercises that begins with basic (X)HTML, progresses through hand-coded CSS, and ends with two template pages: one a hybrid CSS table structure, and the other a CSS positioned page. To relieve some of the seriousness, I give Fireworks breaks. The kinds of graphics we make are determined by the needs of our Cascading Style Sheet, but we try to have a lot of fun with effects and creative commands.
Why am I babbling about all of this? In addition to the fact that it's one of my favorite subjects, it is also because I am very excited about the new CMX JumpStarts. These are exactly the kind of learning experience my students (and we all) need. By examining the extensively commented files, students can deconstruct the very usable two column layout and get a crash course in how to make a CSS positioned page work well in all standards compliant browsers.
And that is something smile about. Because teachers don't let students use font tags...