Blended Learning Environment for Teaching Web Design to New Students

Teaching a non-programmer web design is not an easy task. It’s not just designing an interface using Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator that will automatically become a working webpage. It needs more than that — HTML and CSS and probably Javascript or jQuery. The fundamentals of user experience are essential, too.

Web technology has been rapidly changing in the last ten years. Now we view the web through our desktops, but in the near future, we will be able to browse the internet through our smartwatches. Thus, the challenges to design a website or apps are even greater for web designers and developers. And that brings additional challenges to the lecturers currently teaching web design to students in higher education.

The skills required to learn web design may be quite overwhelming. New students not only need to know how users browse the internet but also what needs to be included on a web page or how to structure a website. Students need to learn the language of the web: HTML, CSS and also a bit of Javascript to make the web workable and responsive to all devices — desktop, tablet or smartphone. Fourteen weeks of teaching and learning is not enough for students to master all the coding systems that require different syntaxes.

The best ways of teaching these modules require a teacher to use blended learning. It would be quite difficult to rely only on the traditional methods of teaching in a classroom. I’ve been using Google Apps for the past three years. I am happy with what it can do to help me sort things out. For instance, when students require me to repeat a lesson when they miss a class, I can upload my screen capture video during my class onto YouTube.

Google Classroom is a fascinating app that I use for all the modules that I teach. I use it to upload my module outline, share notes, make announcements and for students to submit their assignments online. There are numerous blogs about blended learning available so I don’t have to explain in detail each function. One reason to use the apps is for students who do not have a Google account. The most important aspect though is that the interface is user-friendly and easy to use!

Posting announcements or creating an assignment is so much easier using Google Classroom and everyone will be notified through their Gmail accounts

I can interact with students remotely if they are unable to attend class, and convert the classroom, or some might say flip the classroom online. This platform is recommended for developing a flipped classroom. Although there are many online tutorials available, it is important to create a personalized tutorial using screen capture software to record your teaching and to upload to YouTube to assist students who may have missed a class or would like to recap in their own time.

Posting announcements or creating an assignment is so much easier using Google Classroom and everyone will be notified through their Gmail accounts. The instructors can receive notifications on a smartphone as a student submits work to allow them to immediately check and respond.

The most important aspect is that students are able to learn at their own pace. They can concentrate on each module and when back in class can discuss with their lecturer and classmates the journey and processes that challenged them.

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