Five Things About Me

Kathy Sierra at Creating Passionate Users hooked me with her post Five(ish) Things I Don’t Know About You. I decided to post answers to her questions here.

1) What’s the most fun work you’ve ever done, and why? (two sentences max): Teaching a continuing ed class called Writing from the Heart at UT Austin because it was such a thrill to hear the fabulous things the students wrote.

2) A. Name one thing you did in the past that you no longer do but wish you did? (one sentence max): Camp out in the woods.

B. Name one thing you’ve always wanted to do but keep putting it off? (one sentence max): Spend a year hiking the length of New Zealand.

3) A. What two things would you most like to learn or be better at, and why? (two sentences max): I’d like to be better at PHP and JavaScript and I’d like to get over my disfunctional relationship with passive verbs.

B. If you could take a class/workshop/apprentice from anyone in the world living or dead, who would it be and what would you hope to learn? (two more sentences, max): I’d follow Alice Walker around like a puppy if we could talk about writing and spirituality at tea time for a week.

4) A. What three words might your best friends or family use to describe you? Helpful, serious, accepting.

B. Now list two more words you wish described you… assertive, outgoing.

5) What are your top three passions? (can be current or past, work, hobbies, or causes– three sentences max): My family is my main passion. Hobbies include photography and reading too much. I’m a bleeding heart liberal so I support just about every cause and plan to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity one of these days.

6) (sue me) Write–and answer–one more question that YOU would ask someone (with answer in three sentences max): What can I do with this blog that will help you teach web design? I can’t answer that one, only YOU can answer that one.

Stanford University Online Accessibility Program

Check the helpful resources in the Stanford Online Accessibility Program – Stanford University. Standford says, “you will find a number of resource materials outlining best practices, policies, development guidelines and more. It also provides tips, tricks and tutorials geared towards the web developer/designer – from the novice to the experienced.” Stanford’s work will benefit everyone.

Tips for faculty who use the Web, but aren’t about the Web

Plenty of instructors use the Web. Many require students to do the same for assignments and papers. But for the instructors who think about other things like History or English or motor development more than they think about web development, I have a few tips.

First, there’s that reference to in the student’s list of resources. A tinyurl is not actually a destination, it’s a way of writing the destination URL in a very tiny way. For example, leads, not to a place called tinyurl, but to an analysis of Shakespeare’s 55th sonnet. If the student quoted the actual URL, it would be Think of tinyurl not as a source, but as an abbreviation or shortcut.

Next, there’s Wikipedia. Students may think that if something can be found in this online encyclopedia, it must be accurate information. While that is often true, sometimes it is not accurate information. The reason lies in the very nature of a Wiki. A Wiki can be edited by anyone. Uh huh, anyone. Most contributors to Wikipedia do their best to be accurate, but sometimes someone with a bias or a particular spin on a topic can do some editing that makes the information less reliable than you might want in a source.

Finally, there are the blogs. It’s the nature of most blogs that the blogger is interpreting the news, not reporting it. The difference between hard news and opinions about hard news may need exploring, depending on what the students are trying to accomplish.