Welcome to kathy_o'quigley, one of Wisehawk's guest bloggers. If you have something you want the world to know about, send me an email at heather [at] wisehawk [dot] com and I will (most likely) set you up as a guest blogger. Remember, you are always welcome to comment on any postings that pique your interest.
I took a class in the summer of 2002 (at an unnamed university) as part of my master's program. It was a required class. The description said, "Web Design. Covers writing web pages in HTML, beginning Photoshop,style sheets, bitmapped animations, issues of usable layout, navigability, structure, typography, and coloron [sic] the web. Projects require students to develop static web sites."
So I take this class (reluctantly, because I already know HTML, but I must take this class in order to take the "advanced" class) and figure it will give me an excuse to update my website: (www.heahaw.com).
Long story short, the class description is correct only in that HTML is used to create websites, but we didn't actually learn HTML—we learned how to use an application. The class was taught by a woman who didn't seem to have much HTML-coding skill herself. She had us use Dreamweaver. Now, I'm not opposed to using a program like Dreamweaver to create/update websites, but I am opposed to teaching ONLY Dreamweaver (or the use of any application, for that matter) for website creation.
The problem here is that the students did not understand anything about the underlying HTML code. If the only purpose in taking the class was to check off a requirement in a student's program of study, then the class met its objective; however if the purpose of the class was to understand how to 'write web pages in HTML' and learn some practical skills to take with you in your job/life, then the class failed miserably.
I spoke to a number of students who learned too late that the instruction in this class was not sufficient to allow them to take more advanced classes (advanced web design and dynamic web design) because THEY DID NOT KNOW HTML. (The most disturbing point here is that the department can't even agree on what content to teach so as to fulfill their own prerequisites...but I'll save that rant for another day.)
I don't believe that everyone taking an HTML class needs to be an expert, but I do believe that some basic HTML understanding is essential. On the job, you will be exposed to a lot of new software. You are not required to know every software tool out there. What happens when you learn to create a website with Dreamweaver, then get a job where they use GoLive? In addition, those web design programs can't do everything you want to do—you will inevitably have to get into the code and do some tweaking. Such was the case with this blog...to change some things in the style sheet and make other little tweaks, some understanding of the underlying code was essential. For the students who took the Web Design class at this (still unnamed) University, this would be a huge frustration, if not an impossible task.
When I shared my views with the head of the program, his response was, "She is one of our most popular instructors." At that point, I gave up (look for that rant also...)