Issues and Challenges in Selecting Content for Web Design Courses

Article excerpt

Introduction

The rapid development of web based technologies has created excitement among educators of web design curriculum. This excitement may sometimes result in a rush to introduce the latest technologies into the classroom without fully studying the need and impact of the technology. While the inclusion of new technologies can be beneficial in many ways, the rush to update the curriculum may produce unforeseen and unplanned dilemmas. Educators may need to address the potential pitfalls associated with updating courses too rapidly to avoid costly mistakes. Goldweber, Impagliazzo and Bogoiavalenski (1997) noted about this rush of updating technology curriculum:

 
   Rapid changes in computing often motivate educators to introduce 
   innovations in the curriculum and the classroom. The haste to do 
   something new or adopt some current fad can cause teachers to 
   overlook possible adverse effects of these innovations on students 
   and the profession. The deployment of curricular or pedagogic 
   innovations such as new languages and technologies may seem 
   appropriate, but mistakes are costly. (p. 94) 

The process of selecting topics and coverage areas for web design courses differs with other technology courses in a number of ways. A study conducted by Vebyla and Roberts (1998) contrasted the topic coverage areas between web design in Computer Science (CS) and web design in Information Systems areas (IS). This study defined the topics covered in IS and CS courses "single paradigm" and the topics in web design courses as "multi-faceted". The same study explained the predicaments that web design instructors go through in selecting topics for their courses:

 
   A topic area that necessarily embraces a more complex, 
   multi-faceted execution model is that of web technology. For such a 
   topic, the course designer must find a way of incorporating 
   sufficient depth in all of the areas without generating too much 
   content. The teacher of topic must ensure students gain sufficient 
   grasp of the paradigms so that they can understand the workings of 
   web design and how different components interact to produce the 
   desired results ... In the traditional topics, it is generally 
   possible to fairly rapidly focus in on a particular subject and 
   treat it generally in isolation from other topics.... Web 
   technology topics cover such a complex multi-faceted subject area 
   that such a single-focus, depth oriented approach does not work. 
   This not only has ramifications for the design and teaching of such 
   topics but also for the associated practical work (p. 27). 

As Vebyla & Roberts explained, the process of selecting content for web design courses is quite different from other IT courses. This process requires web design educators to take special consideration when selecting the technology and content that will be included in their courses. The process becomes more complicated when the same faculty or department teaches more than web design courses. The core dilemma that this paper is attempting to address is that if a technology department teaches two web design courses, what are the suggested content of these courses? This paper illustrates how the contents of web design courses were planned, and the pedagogical consideration taken into account within the TST department in updating their two web design courses.

The remainder of this paper is divided into the following five sections: The first section describes the challenges that make web design a difficult task to practice. The second section contrasts the paradigms that pervade web design in general and web design technology education in particular. The third section explains about specific considerations that may be taken by colleges and universities in institutionalizing curriculum updates. The fourth section discusses additional factors that may be addressed when updating web design course content. …

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