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  1. #1
    SitePoint Wizard jag5311's Avatar
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    Colleges not teaching web standards?

    Note: Paul O'B, you already got a personal email--


    A representative for one of the classes at Ivy Tech College in Indianapolis called the company I work for, and asked if there are any employees that would be interested in reviewing some students portfolio.

    I thought it would be fun so I said 'yes'.

    Only issue is that I didn't realize I actually had to give the students a mock interview for 20 minutes each. Yikes! So I gotta come up with some good questions that I can ask everyone. I am sure they are just as nervous as I will be.

    I am sure I will see some good web design portfolio's and some bad ones. Thats the nature of the beast though and the nature of learning. I wish I would have had a mock interview possibility when I was in college. Then again, I was only about 1 1/2 years into webdesign by the time I graduated, and I graduated with a marketing degree, so that was the first area of work I was looking (Business). I have a passion for the web and web design and I am hoping I will see that same glimmer in some of the students eyes.


    [UPDATE]


    Well, I have finished the interviews. Why is it 98% of the portfolios from a college student are in Flash? I like a good use of flash, but g'damn, does everything have to be flash or print? I realize I was talking to most multimedia college students, but I don't think too many colleges put alot of main focus into solid website building/ css / web standards.

    I talked to one of the advisors and explained to him my thoughts on webdesign and web standards (which he WAS familiar with), but he explained often times there are politics involved with colleges and some sections dont get to teach certain courses even though its been brought up in the past. I told him I felt compelled to offer some help in this area because I feel its sad that colleges are teaching kids xyz. I had to learn all web stuff on my own.

    The course I took was basic HTML (tables, etc...) and I didn't know better at the time. Neither do these students. They have no clue. In 2005, we should be teaching students the basics of solid webdesign, usability, accessibility, etc... 2 times today the issue of a student knowing a disabled person came up. Both times I explained the importance of accessibile websites for those particular reasons.

    Anyways, the interviews were not like I thought they would be.

    98% of the portfolios were flash presentations. Not too many colleges teach solid web page building, let alone, Web Standards.

    If the student did have an html website they did, it wasn't graphically appealing and the code I am sure wasn't good.

    I then got to sit in a conference room with other interviewers, faculty, and staff. We all chimed in on what we thought of the students skills, how their courses are working, etc...

    I chimed in on the Web Standards thing . I basically mentioned that 98% of the portfolios I saw were flash and I would have liked to seen more HTML based websites and the use of stylesheets for more then styling fonts.

    Use them for positioning and learn to structure a webpage into 2 parts (presentation and structure).

    I happened to use the term XHTML and CSS, and one of the guys who works in the IT department there seemed kinda impressed and was like, "I think thats the first time XML has been mentioned in one of these", so that was good.

    After the meeting, I told him that I know how colleges are and that I felt compelled to try and offer some help because I have an above average knowledge of CSS and web design.He liked the idea and I will probably be emailing him to give him some of my information.

    I am not talking about teaching or anything, but whatever I can do to help and get Standards into a college, the better.


    Here is a quote from a comment on my blog posting about this


    I attend Purdue University, so maybe it's just an Indiana thing :-), and had to take an introductory HTML course last semester to fulfill a requirement when I changed majors.

    I've been into web standards and such on my own for awhile now, and was excited to see what a University well-known for their technical expertise had to offer on the topic. Plus I figured, easy A, right? Little did I know we would be exposed to...FRAMES!

    It was truely a horrible class. At the end of the semester, I was convinced that the professor didn't know much of anything beyond 1996-esque web design , and ended up writing a three-page letter to the head of the department. Never got a response on that one...
    Damn, we are talking about Purdue University here, one of the top enginneering and technical schools in the country, and this was LAST SEMESTER!


    Anyways, sorry if some stuff is repeated in this posting. Its from my blog [see sig - juiced] and I copied and pasted different sections.


    Thoughts?
    Last edited by jag5311; Apr 30, 2005 at 07:36. Reason: forgot college name

  2. #2
    Non-Member Egor's Avatar
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    Yeah, an intoductory course I took on web design (not university or college; a private institution) in late 2003 was filled with tutors that had absolutely NO CLUE! Were basically taught the basics of html (no doctype, no standards), then photoshop, then flash. Most of the students (myself included at the time) thought flash was the greatest thing since sliced bread. They saw the animations Flash could make and got addicted to it.

    I think what many institutions are missing is that crucial theory on web design. Before students even touch the text editor they should be aware of: browser compatitiblity, usability theory and accessibility, as well as a little bit of marketing IMO.

    It's just that a lot of tutors are probably using resources and techniques that worked in the earlier days and assume they are bullet-proof. Either that, or they have no knowledge whatsoever and are teaching out of a 'web design for dummies' book.

  3. #3
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    I learned about CSS in school in 2000

    Too bad it didn't work for anything other than fonts back then

  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy dc dalton's Avatar
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    I was almost fired from my school several times for refusing to follow the course structure because they wanted us to teach html 3.2 and then 3 units later say "You know all that stuff we taught you before? Forget it"!

    Needless to say being the rebel I am I pulled a "Dead Poets Society" and told them to rip those pages out of the book! .... talk about being in the hotseat... I was in the directors office more than my problem students!

    So what I did was teach them basic CSS the first unit and then we got into the heavier stuff later on .... But If I HAD followed the course structure my students would have been just as bad.

    Now we were a college acredited school that lead to a BS degree ... pretty freaking sad!

  5. #5
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    I took a "1996-esque" basic web design course in HS where the teacher didn't know jack and didn't mind imparting that to his students. Needless to say, I failed the course for using more "modern" coding techniques (css instead of font, table, etc.). I also got kicked out of class and put in detention once or twice for trying to make a case for CSS. People these days are just ignorant idiots...

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  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard jag5311's Avatar
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    I also got kicked out of class and put in detention once or twice for trying to make a case for CSS. People these days are just ignorant idiots...
    Holy Crap! Wow, thats sad. Ignorant people I tell you...

  7. #7
    SitePoint Enthusiast athena's Avatar
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    I've been creating websites for a while now and have only really been paying attention to web standards and accessibility compliance for a year or so. I'm one of those self-taught designers and I always figured that was the source of my past ignorance about such things... which I suppose is why I was so stunned when I realized there are many web design companies out there who are still not coding up to standard. You try running their own company sites through something like WebXACT (the next generation of Watchfire's Bobby) and watch the errors stack up... I mean, after wading through the quagmire to learn this stuff on my own, it's really rather depressing to find out that some of the professionals out there aren't even bothering.

  8. #8
    SitePoint Member
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    I think its safe to say you don't learn webdesign in college. You learn it on your own.

  9. #9
    Xbox why have you forsaken me? moospot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ratfaces
    I think its safe to say you don't learn webdesign in college. You learn it on your own.

    Why do you say that? I know a few designers that majored in graphic design and went on to design web sites. It really depends on your college, your professor and the curriculum being taught. I think the majority of colleges accept the fact that the web is a very dynamic place and try to keep their materials up to date.

    As for teaching web standards, I can imagine it is hard to enforce standards when most companies (i.e. MS) don't enforce web standards in their browsers.

  10. #10
    Huh? What now? tntcheats's Avatar
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    I haven't been to the 'true' college campus that I'm supposed to be taught on because of how it's set up (I'm taking the first year over two right now somewhere else, then moving off to UCFV after that), but my current professor is a complete ****ing retard at HTML and CSS--he forced us to use <li> tags and <p> tags without the end tags.

    I just bashed the table and walked out of the class and went home some days.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Addict rosem's Avatar
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    In our visual design and web media department, they are teaching kids how to layout websites using frames still

    CSS is used sometimes to style text, and thats about as far as it goes.

    I of couse ignore everything I learn there, and just read and do stuff on my own. :P

  12. #12
    SitePoint Addict KelliShaver's Avatar
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    I took two web design courses in college, one was through the art department, one thorugh the computer science department.

    The one through the art department, I didn't expect much in the way of a coding lesson. It was mianly theory, creating a visually pleasing and functional design. They didn't care hwo you made it work, just that you understood the concepts of a good visual design. Afterall, it was through the art department. We had soem real tech savvy designer sand professors over there, but theyw ren't programmers and weren't pretending to be. So, for what I was expecting going into the course, I got a lot out of it.

    As for the one thorugh the comp-sci department, well, to be honest, it was the one of my last college classes. Both classes were crammed into a 5wk summer session and my other one was an upper level statistics course, so when I signed up for it, I did so because I was lookiing for an easy A that wouldn't take away from much needed time to study statistics.

    It was like going back in time 8 years. It was very "1996." I completed all of the required projects in a week and a half andn spent the rest of the time answering questions that the professor didn't know the answer to (not his fault, he was a visiting business professor (who was a super nice guy) and really had no idea why they'd given him that course to teach) and studying for stats.

    Even knowing that I had gone into the course on a scholarship and looking for an easy A, having gotten my GPA padded a little and not having to pay for it, I still felt a bit cheated. I had hoped to learn at least something.

  13. #13
    Xbox why have you forsaken me? moospot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rosem
    In our visual design and web media department, they are teaching kids how to layout websites using frames still

    CSS is used sometimes to style text, and thats about as far as it goes.

    I of couse ignore everything I learn there, and just read and do stuff on my own. :P

    eek! I can see learning frames because its part of HTML and you might possibly, but not very likely, use it someday. But I hope that it is not more than one web site. WHAT ARE THEY TEACHING OUR KIDS THESE DAYS!?!?!? LOL

  14. #14
    Internet Toughguy Kevin Boss's Avatar
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    A buddy of mine is going to college for graphics/webdesign. The entire course is done using Macromedia Suite. Now, I use this myself but I understand that it's only a helpful resource - not a neccessary tool.

    I believe they are teaching him the exact opposite

  15. #15
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Riffic
    A buddy of mine is going to college for graphics/webdesign. The entire course is done using Macromedia Suite. Now, I use this myself but I understand that it's only a helpful resource - not a neccessary tool.

    I believe they are teaching him the exact opposite
    Everyone I know that went to school specifically for web design ended up only learning Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Flash. Those who did web design as a side thing in combination with another major like graphic design or business seemed to learn better ways of doing things.

    Needless to say, I don't recommend web design programs to anybody and tell them to get an art or business degree because they're infinitely more useful.

  16. #16
    Xbox why have you forsaken me? moospot's Avatar
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    I agree. One of my friends majored in graphic design at UCF. She learned to use Adobe products (Illustrator, Photoshop). Design is more than just photoshop and dreaweaver. I'm not a design expert by any means, but learning graphic design would seem to me to be about design principles, layouts, colors, theories, that sort of thing. From what it sounds like, these web design classes, or degrees for that matter, basically just give you basic level knowledge of HTML/CSS and how to use certain tools like Dreamweaver, Photoshop and Flash. Good designers, IMO, not only know how to use the tools but understand why and when to use certain techniques to achieve a certain look and not just throw something together that looks "cool".

  17. #17
    SitePoint Zealot lemkepf's Avatar
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    Wow... i must be the lucky one here. At UW-Whitewater in Wisconsin I took a "Web-Design" class through the art department and a "Web-Developement" through the Comp Sci department.

    I didn't expect much from the Web-Design class, especially if the first day you learn how to make a site using Adobe ImageReady... gah!! I almost screamed!!! The only good thing about that class was we got to give presentations on some cool HTML stuff we learned. I ended up giving a lecture on CSS and Web Standards. The presentation was to only last 10 minutes, but with all the questions i got asked it almost took up the entire 1.5 hours! It was nice to see non-techy folks actually get a handle on CSS and be interested in conforming to standards. Lets just say the curriculum for this semester was a bit different....

    The Comp Sci class was awesome! For each assignment we turned in it had to validate Xhtml strict! When i heard this on the first day of class i almost stood up and applauded! Sure, our pages never got really complicated but it was still nice to see everyone paying attention to standards. I gave major props to that professor.
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  18. #18
    Non-Member Musicbox's Avatar
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    you can learn graphics designing in a week and can improve your standard by visiting graphics community like http://www.shadowness.com .......etc where you can learn new techniques, however the web standard is upgrading day by day.

  19. #19
    SitePoint Wizard HarryR's Avatar
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    As several other people have already brought up: most college courses seem to be set on very out-dated standards (e.g. html 3.2 or whatever crap that frontpage, our the slightly nicer stuff that dreamweaver churns out).

    The problem with these courses is that there is no separation between design methodology (e.g. graphic design, the correct colours, bring the users attention to certain elements, accessability to disabled people and the theory behind all of these) and the actual implementation of the site (e.g. do you use tables or divs, or both, optimizing for speed and compatibility, and generally things their going to face in the real world like dealing with hardcore developers).

    The courses that the college I work for does is spread out over two areas: art/design and computing.

    The art/design students usually use Illustator/Photoshop/GoLive/Dreamweaver/Flash and tend to center around an 'experience', using huge fullscreen images and other bandwidth intense stuff.

    The computing courses usually serve as an introduction to html, or a basic web development class using PHP/ASP. CSS, accessability and usability are covered.. but not in enough detail.

    (I'm not even going to bother going into the government sponsored courses like the ECDL or courses trying to promote bussinesses to create their own websites.. UTTER PANTS!).

    The bottom line is that these courses are like this because their all based off a government syllabus or a standardized testing method, and although this may be fine for some subjects where things rarely change from year to year (think.. farming, ancient history etc.). For web design and development (or any other deeply technical IT related course) it is a constant moving target which cannot be standardized upon unless you have some very smart people behind the course who give the educators enough leeway to teach what they need to.

    * rant mode is now off *

    Please note, these are my personal views and do not in any way represent the views of directors, staff or pupils of Coleg Sir Gar.

  20. #20
    SitePoint Evangelist CapitalWebHost's Avatar
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    Well, think about it. You can teach threory till you're blue in the face, but if you don't also teach how to use the tools to impliment that theory, why bother?

  21. #21
    SitePoint Wizard samsm's Avatar
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    Good designers understand how their designs resonate with their audience. That has pretty much been their role for years. For years, as long as the printer got a proof or a pdf with acceptable resolution, there was no problem.

    Now we have this sudden bleed where the composition of a piece has importance. I think it is understandable that the industry and educators are slow to react.

    Adding to the confusion is the first 5-7 years of commercial webdesign where complying with standards forced real compromises to design possibilities.

    Hey, I think colleges should be a little more sharp, but I can see why there is some lag. And I have zero excuses for computer science courses that aren't with the times, that's just wrong.
    Using your unpaid time to add free content to SitePoint Pty Ltd's portfolio?

  22. #22
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CapitalWebHost
    Well, think about it. You can teach threory till you're blue in the face, but if you don't also teach how to use the tools to impliment that theory, why bother?
    The problem is that a lot of these schools teach only the tools and not the theory, especially the two-year schools. It's the equivalent of paying out tons of money to read good-tutorials.com (not bashing on lo0ol here at all, that's just how many schools treat their design curricula). Without a good foundation in theory there will always be something "not quite right" about your work anyway.

  23. #23
    Huh? What now? tntcheats's Avatar
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    Hmmm Vinnie, you gave me an idea. I'll finish up my years of college going through the programming curcuit, then maybe go off to take either/both graphics design or/and business.

  24. #24
    SitePoint Zealot wineo's Avatar
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    I think that the lecturers and tutors don't want the students' sites beating their sites to the top of search engines!
    Last edited by wineo; May 2, 2005 at 08:33. Reason: spelling...

  25. #25
    Afraid I can't do that Dave Hal9k's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tntcheats
    he forced us to use <li> tags and <p> tags without the end tags.
    Oh, man, that's horrible.

    I'm coming up to my A-levels and am opting for the "computing" course. I aim to focus more on application design and further my knowledge in programming rather than to opt for a web design or similar.

    Quote Originally Posted by samsm
    Now we have this sudden bleed where the composition of a piece has importance. I think it is understandable that the industry and educators are slow to react.
    That's very true, I don't think that web design has matured in education sufficiently as to justify me taking it. Moreover, if I did, it would be like taking an A-level in German, while already being fluent in it.

    Then again, I here the first language they're teaching us is Pascal. Ergh, Python would be nice instead. I suppose courses are there for a lot of people just as a necessary evil to get that qualification to hang on the wall.


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