When I first learned to create a web page, back in 1996, I used Notepad and hand-coded the HTML. When I first started teaching back in 2004 I fervently believed that we should start out teaching web design by hand-coding (or at least editing) HTML.
In the last year or so I have accepted that, at KS3 at least, a very minimal knowledge of HTML for the most interested is actually sufficient – although CSS (another form of code, note) would really be better.
And yet I create a lot of online content (including discussion) using a WYSIWYG editor in Moodle, a blog (like this or in comments on others’), a Google Profile, using Twitter, using Facebook…
Now actually I have recently created my own static website (gasp!) and using an iFrame (urgh!) which has to be hand-coded (or at least it does in Dreamweaver). And anyone doing any web development, or even customising their blog or CMS significantly will need to do a bit of tweaking somewhere – so where does that leave us?
Should I be teaching HTML, CSS, AJAX, setting up a CMS, writing widgets, PHP, WYSIWYG, RSS…? What students need is a balance of skills that are likely to be directly useful to all plus the understanding to allow them to explore further in the future. I’m tempted to stick to WYSIWYG static sites at KS3 with a splash of HTML and eventually CSS (once I get to learning it myself!) and covering the use of wikis/blogs/CMS as alternatives. I’m not 100% I’m right to do that though.