Note – this is copy of the welcome email that was sent.
As the first email/posting, I know this is long, but please read this whole email and if you have any questions, please let me know.
Welcome to Class
I wanted to welcome everyone to class. Originally, I sent a series of emails, but after some people said they would miss one, so I wanted to simplify the process. So in addition to the email, I will also post this online in case you accidentally delete it/don’t check the account I send it too.
I’ve taught this class (Web Publishing I) numerous times in person, and three times on-line. This semester, we are experimenting with a hybrid format which will allow us to meet several times (approximately once every three weeks), while still doing most of the work online. Therefore, it will be important for you to work on the online, self paced sections, so we can make the best use of class time.
Each time I’ve taught the class, I’ve made a few changes to try to make it easier and more consistent for you. I know for many of you this may be your first on-line class, there are a few things to remember.
I have taught this class itself, for close to seven years at Seminole State, and a similar class in other schools for several more years before that.
** NOTE: There is a pre-test. Please take it as soon as possible. The school uses it to test to see how you progress from the beginning of the term to the end. So it is more testing me. Generally we see a 50%+ improvement, as some times you can make some logical guesses. **
Most information about assignments can be found on the class webpage. http://access2learn.com/classes-i-teach/web-publishing-1-online/, this includes the syllabus, notes, videos, and assignments. I created the site for my classes before I taught on-line. You will find it is probably faster than Sakia, so while you can find assignment details there, you may still wish to use the site for getting info. Additionally, you don’t have to login, which makes it easier to access the information in most cases.
I have included numerous videos showing how to do things, so if you learn better by watching, than reading, you will want to review the videos after reading. It will help reinforce what you have learned. Most of these videos are under 5 minutes.
In the forum, there is an “Introduction” topic. Please post your intro there. This will get you used to using the forum if you haven’t before. If you wrote an intro in another area, please copy (via copy and paste) in that Introduction topic area.
Due Dates and Late Assignments
One of the things that gives some students issues is that because we don’t meet in a class, you may not think about due dates as much. Please realize that there are due dates and assignments.
Assignments are due on Saturday of the week they are due. I have them set to turn in by 11:55PM, however, turning them in earlier would be better, in case there is an issue with Sakia which causes it to be inaccessible.
Homework and projects can be turned in up to three weeks late, or the last day of class, whichever comes first. Late work will receive a penalty. So try to get things in on time to get all of the points for all of your work.
Forum posts are one of the things that you cannot turn in late, please make sure to get those in on time. Forum posts are like classroom discussions. It is a chance to share with the class and respond back and forth. Most topics require that you respond to at least two other people. I respond to many, but not all. So don’t wait for me to respond.
Getting them done earlier in the week is good in that you will have a chance to allow people to respond back and forth.
Some forum topics cannot be viewed until you have written your own post. This cuts down on the chances of people thinking that someone copied their topic. It just means you think similar to one another.
Book and Software for Adobe CS 4/5/5.5/6/CC
One of the biggest questions I constantly get is about the Book, and version of Adobe to use. If you have purchased Adobe products recently, you know that they are on the “CC” version. However, the PC labs are running CS4, and Mac labs are running CS6.
This is due to licensing issues with Adobe. The school, and other schools in Florida’s College System are trying to get a licensing deal worked out, but it is neither cheap nor easy, like the old way of doing it.
So let me give you the good news and bad news.
The good news is that HTML is plain text. You don’t need a special program to edit HTML documents, like you do for Flash, Illustrator, or Photoshop. I’ve edited HTML documents with little more than Notepad.
This means that you can create a document in Dreamweaver CC, and open it in CS4. If you use something new, you may not be able to edit it, but you can still work on it.
With that being said, our book is officially for CS6. They do not print previous versions of the books any more. You can also find a CC version of the book. I do not have a copy of the CC book, but I imagine that the projects are similar.
If you want to see if you have the right book. The bookstore should have it in stock. The CC book is also available, but probably not from the book store. The book cover looks different, but like I said, I don’t have a copy to check between.
The Adobe Dreamweaver software can be found on Amazon as well, but I think it’s the same price as if you get it from Adobe directly.
I recommend getting the version of the book to match what version you will use most often.
Adobe made some changes to the interface in CC. So I am told it is a bit different than the CS6 and prior versions. All versions CS4 and later are similar in the user interface, so you should be able to move between the PC and Mac labs depending upon availability and personal preference. CS4 was a huge upgrade, over previous versions. CC was another large set forward, as it supports responsive web design, CSS3 and HTML5 much better than previous versions.
That being said, you will have to turn in several chapters work from your book. The book does a pretty good job at showing you how to use the software. Don’t forget to look at the class notes however to see how to edit the HTML directly, and how to perform other techniques you need to know that are not in the book. These topics generally deal with “Web Publishing”/”Web Design” while the book focuses on Dreamweaver.
Hints on Taking Online Class
Since a lot of you have not had an online class, there is a few things that you should know.
Use the forums. Discuss not only the topics I post, but also ask questions about the class, assignments, and general topics about the web. This is all fine, as long as you do not share answers to quizzes, assignments, etc.
NOTE: I may, or may not reply. A lot of this has to do with how well others are replying. Learn to use each other, not just the instructor.
Set aside a block of time for this class, just as if you were in a class. You could have friends/family/etc. interrupt you during class, don’t let them do it for you then either. A class is generally 3 hours a week, plus time for assignments, I would recommend setting aside about that much time. Maybe two independent two hour blocks, or maybe a single 4 hour block – that is up to you. Also not that sometimes a larger project may require some extra time.
Online classes give you flexibility to get things done. However, scheduling is more important, because if you procrastinate, it is easier to get further behind faster. Included in that schedule is knowing when things are due; whether it is an assignment, or forum post. Generally you will have something (sometimes more than one thing) due every week. Plan accordingly.
Homework assignments often work to build to a project, to keep your project from becoming overwhelming. Use that to your advantage. Look at projects and see how they can fit together.
Make time for taking your quiz when you will not be interrupted. This is very important! Generally your quizzes should take only 15 minutes or less. I allow more time, in case Sakia is slow, you get kicked off, etc.
If you are in need of extra time due to a documented reason. Please let DSS know, and have them forward on that information to me. It is not uncommon, and I can work to provide the quizzes to a testing center for you.
Accessing the Class/Finding Info
All of the class assignments, quizzes, and forum posts should be found in Sakia. http://dl.seminolestate.edu/
If you cannot find the class there, you will want to contact the Distance Learning group and see how to configure Sakia and make sure you have been properly added to the class.
Additionally, the class website is at http://access2learn.com/classes-i-teach/web-publishing-1-online/ You can see the current week that is highlighted. I’ve also started putting the first day of the week on under the week number, so you can more easily see and plan ahead for assignments.
Note that things can change, and may appear as they were not originally planned, or not needed for you to see earlier in the class. So keep an eye out for changes.
Assignments and Grades
I do post a detailed grade break down for assignments. This will let you know exactly what is needed to get a good grade in the class/for the assignment. In all my years of teaching this course, I can tell you that most people do not have an issue getting an A or a B, with one exception.
That exception is those who do not turn in work, or turn it in late. The person who fails to turn in assignments, in a timely manner, normally makes Cs, Ds, or worse. And we don’t want that. So make sure to read the instructions.
Common Questions – And their Answers
Can we/I use “templates”? If it is a template that you designed from scratch yes. If you found/bought a template – No. This includes those that come with Dreamweaver.
Will we be meeting at all this term? Yes. I am planning on having class approximately once every three weeks or so. It may not be every third week, but that approximate time frame. Keep an eye on the messages to get a good feel.
Do we have to buy the book? Yes. Several assignments are due from the book itself. So you will need access. If you want to share with another student that is fine.
I already know Web Design? I recommend pushing yourself then. There is always something to learn. I know I am still learning and I’ve been doing web design since 1996/7. A lot has changed since then, and still is, every day. If you do feel that you don’t need to take this class, there is a test out available to you. You must request it the first week of classes, before attendance is taken however.
What version of HTML should we use? Previously I’ve said any version xhtml, html 4 and html5, however, this term, I’m specifying HTML 5 should be used.
Does my code have to validate? No. But it must render properly in any browser that I load it in. (Validation helps ensure that it will be consistent, and I won’t load it in IE6, so don’t worry about that.)
Can I do my project website for _____, which is my favorite super hero? No. You must pick your own. My wife and I are pretty big geeks, we’ll know if you reuse one.
Can I do a villain? Yes.
For the final project, can I redo my own site? I’d rather you not. If you own an existing, established business (that is not a design business), then you can ask for a waiver.
Do I have to use Dreamweaver? For parts of the class it is. Web design doesn’t require a specific tool, but there are some things that I show that require Dreamweaver. If you don’t want to purchase it, or it is too expensive, use one of the labs during open lab time. It is well worth the drive to save the money if that is necessary.
But I heard/read _______ say that Dreamweaver is dumb/out dated/no one uses/etc? That is a personal opinion. I know several pros that use Dreamweaver, and have used it on many professional sites over the years. It will not build a website for you. It is a tool to help you. If you treat it like one of your tools (you should have many) you will do fine. There are times that it is a great tool, and it works exactly was you need it to. There are other times where it will get in your way. You need to learn when each of those times are.
Think about a carpenter, they don’t have just one hammer, one screw driver, and one type of nail/screw. They may have dozens of different screw drivers/hammers/etc depending upon the job they are doing. A sledge hammer does a great job of busting up concrete, but it would be lousy for building a cabinet.
I have CS5, the Book is CS6…? It should still work for you. There may be minor differences in the program layout, but don’t worry too much about it.
Where is your office? I am an adjunct professor, so I don’t rate an office. I work full time at another company, and teach one or two classes for Seminole State each term. All of my classes that I teach at Seminole State deal with Web Design in one form or another.
Can we meet on campus? I am looking into what rooms/times might be available to meet periodically. I currently do not have a scheduled class on campus, so it is a little more difficult.
Can we be Facebook Friends? No. Nothing personal, but I keep my personal Facebook friends for my personal friends. I have a Facebook page for the class, that you can communicate with (that way we don’t share personal info), and I will connect with students on Linked In. I also recommend you connecting with other students to start to build your network. This is important for finding jobs, making connections, etc.
If you have other questions, please ask. I try to respond to emails within 48 hours during the work week. That is the best way to reach me.