What do HTML and Latin have in common?

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.

Any thoughts?


5 thoughts on “What do HTML and Latin have in common?

  1. HTML and CSS are all we teach at college up to National Certificate level, but Ajax, more advanced CSS and other skills are taught in following years from HNC, HND to Degree. These are all big, big subjects, and not something that students can grasp easily or quickly. Starting with HTML and moving on to CSS (not that hard really, esp. if you have Dreamweaver) is good. Then followed by a little scripting such as Javascript. At that point, students will have decided whether they want to, or can do programming and can move on to AJAX, PHP, etc.

    However, we should also be looking at using blogs, wikis and alternative methods of creating websites, as the majority of current students will use one of these at some point in their life. The techy stuff is still for techies.

    HTML certainly isn’t dead – all websites rely on it to some extent (and HTML 5 will be widespread soon). So it ain’t dead, unlike Latin.

  2. I get mine to do HTML from scratch, one or two pages in notepad, to really understand. Include colour, various text samples, an image, a hyperlink and embed some youtube.

    Then take the page to dreamweaver, copy the page and change the content and start to explore navigation possibilities. However, here I cop out. Rather than getting the DW sites online with some fancy system we don’t have (no internal hosting), I get them to create a Google site embedding Office docs converted to Google docs of their school work (2 or 3 subjects) and then email the relevant links to their teachers for praise; work is also photographed or scanned where appropriate.

    The idea here is not to teach everything (although CSS is the biggie in my mind) but to teach integration and dynamic solution. However, having said that they are Year 8 and have 1 * 40 minute lesson per week. Lessons are therefore too fast so all work must be doable at home to make learning have any significant process and progress. It is a challenge.

    Would love to know your current model for coping with same issues.


  3. As a primary teacher I probably do not understand the issues but my 2 pence worth. Teach to create a very basic html structure, body, main,header, content, menu. Then use css to experiment with this and have fun. A page with a javascript to switch stylesheets might be interesting?

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