Tuesday, January 11, 2005

My HTML class

Last night I had the first session of my Free U HTML class. I had 30 people signed up for the course, so I actually had to move it to the computer lab in Jesup, and it was good I did -- 19 people showed up! Over half of these were graduate economics students from the graduate department. (Yes, Williams has a graduate department -- to be a student there, you have to be a practicing economist in a developing country, so needless to say, I had some pretty cool students.) So far as I know, one of my students was actually from Afghanistan, and I think another is Bangladeshi. I wanted to take attendance just so that I could ask them where they were from, but I chickened out...

In the two hours, we actually got a lot done. In other words, I told them absolutely everything I know about HTML, and it only took me two hours. They ended up with kind of funny pages, which were generally bright green, had pictures of stretched-out purple cows, and said things like "This is a cow" and "Williams is a really good place." This was because my example page, which I used to explain each thing that I taught, was bright green, had pictures of stretched-out cows, and said things like that. You can see it here because I actually showed them an example of uploading by uploading my own page. I think I obliterated an early version of my Web page by doing that (it was originally hosted at that address) but oh well, these are the side effects of effective teaching.

Next week I plan to have them work independently writing a real Web page, and for our final meeting they will all hopefully have WSO accounts, so I can teach them how to upload to the Internet and update their pages later. Since most of them are in the graduate econ program, they have real motivations for wanting to learn to make a Web page, so I am confident that they will think of good pages to create. My plan is to walk around and answer questions, and look at their code and find the errors when things come out looking wrong. I was so happy about this last night, because I was actually able to find errors! Things like < img scr =... It kind of makes up for my feelings of extreme ineptitude when I was taking CSCI 134 last spring. Kind of.

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