Have digital tools made your dreams come true?

I found this wonderful video among PBS’s Digital Nation videos. Charlotte Ashurst McDaniel explains how digital tools have changed her life for the better.

I suspect that many of us have stories about how digital tools have changed our lives.

This blog changed my life. In the late 1990s and early in the current century, I was teaching basic HTML and web page creation with Dreamweaver in a community college. I couldn’t find a book I liked. In those years, now familiar concepts such as web standards, symantic HTML, using CSS to create the appearance of a web page, and accessibility were all under heated discussion. I became a believer early on—partly because of my frequent attendance at SXSW Interactive where I sat at the feet of people like Eric Meyer, Molly Holzschlag, and Jeffrey Zeldman while they talked about what they were doing.

Being a believer and trying to teach that way were almost incompatible in those days. The books at the time were still teaching table-based layouts, font-tag appearance controls and other not so wonderful techniques. I decided that I needed to go public with my complaints about the books that were available, and I started this blog. That was in about 2001.

The book reviews I post now are generally fairly positive. The wheel has turned. But for several years after  2001, they were very negative. I began to hear from publishers and writers. I was asked to look at tables of contents, to review chapters, to comment on proposed work. I was asked to write teacher’s editions. I did all those things and soon realized I’d made contacts within the world of computing book publishers.

I used those contacts to find out where to submit a proposal for a book of my own. I had this crazy idea that books should teach HTML and CSS at the same time. When a student learned a tag, they also learned  how to present it with CSS.  I truly did not want to make students learn a whole lot of useless HTML (like font tags) for the first half of a semester and then be told to forget all about it at the end of the semester when CSS was introduced. Learn both at once. I found a publisher–Sybex–who accepted the proposal. Sybex came up with the idea of calling it “Integrated” HTML and CSS.

I wrote the book from a teacher’s perspective. I’m not a computer science person—I’m not a programmer. I pulled together the best ideas for teaching I could and applied it to learning HTML and CSS.

So I had my own book, thanks to my blog. Publishers asked me to do more jobs: tech edit other people’s books. Write a second edition of my own book. Help other writers with their Dreamweaver books. Be the writer for a Dreamweaver book. In my own small way, I put the best web standards based material I can out into the world.

Then, a couple of years ago at SXSW, I met Aarron Walter. He talked about the notion that the Web Standards Project Education Task Force should get some volunteers together to work on a web standards based curriculum. I got involved in that. It seems to me now that this is where I was headed all the time. Because that involvement, that project, that group of people, may make a big difference in web education. The WaSP Edu Task force created a curriculum and called it InterAct. At this time, the first round of courses for the InterAct Curriculum are online. More courses are in development. The core group from InterAct have expanded to include business, education and schools in a  just-forming group at the W3C called The Open Web Education Alliance (OWEA). OWEA will bring industry and education together in pilot projects, education projects, outreach projects and in many other ways that will impact the education of web professionals in the future. One of those projects is the Web Education Rocks tours, which bring web standards professional educators to a location near you for training.

My blog changed my life. Dreams I didn’t even know I had are part of my life, part of many lives, part of the future of web education.

How has digital technology changed your life? I know you have a story. Please share it.

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Web Education Rocks

web education rocks

Something significant for web education is happening in Chattanooga from August 5-8. The event is dubbed the Web Education Rocks Summit. The event is a meeting of the newly formed Open Web Education Alliance. Members are meeting to create a structure for OWEA that will aid companies, schools, and organizations involved in shaping the education of Web professionals.

On Thursday, August 6, there will be an open meeting for any interested web professional. This meeting is called The Tour, and is the first of many Tour dates for OWEA.  At this meeting, the speakers will be:

  • John Allsopp, Web Directions
  • Scott Fegette, Adobe
  • Nick Fogler, Yahoo!
  • Leslie Jensen-Inman, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
  • Chris Mills, Opera
  • Doug Schepers, W3C
  • Aarron Walter, MailChimp

You can request a tour stop in your town. You may not get all of the speakers listed above at every Tour stop, but you will get some of the OWEA members. OWEA is an organization spun off from the drive to create the InterAct Curriculum.

The Web Education Rocks Summit was put together by Leslie Jensen-Inman from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, who obtained all sorts of sponsorships and funds to support the efforts of OWEA. Leslie rocks!

Useful links: WaSP OWEA announcement, HTML 5,

Introducing the Open Web Education Alliance at WaSP’s Buzz page. See also The Big Reveal for a link to the public mailing list for this group. Follow news on the group on Twitter @waspinteract.

html5doctor is a new group blog working to bring information about the proposed specs for HTML 5 to the masses. They encourage questions from readers about what it all means.

W3C Open Web Education Alliance Incubator Group: The Big Reveal

Open Web Education Alliance Incubator Group (OWEA) was announced this week by the W3C.

The mission of the Open Web Education Alliance Incubator Group, part of the Incubator Activity, is to help enhance and standardize the architecture of the World Wide Web by facilitating the highest quality standards and best practice based education for future generations of Web professionals through such activities as

  • fostering open communication channels for knowledge transfer
  • curriculum sharing between corporate entities, educational institutions, Web professionals, and students.

W3C Advisory Committee Representatives may join this XG on behalf of their organizations. Participants are automatically subscribed to the Member list when they join the group. Participants should also subscribe to the public list. Non-Participants may also subscribe.

The goal of this Incubator Group is to bring together interested individuals, companies, and organizations with a strong interest in the field of educating Web professionals, to explore the needs and issues around the topic of Web development education. This Incubator Group will detail the options for establishing a group dedicated to bringing Web standards and best practices to the process of educating future professionals in Web professions, no matter where this training and education might be provided, and will define the goals, activities, and a clear mission for such an organization, and will seek to establish this organization’s viability and role.

This Incubator Group has been initiated by various independent projects and organizations such as the Opera Developer Community, Yahoo! Developer Network/Juku, Web Directions, Web Standards Project (WaSP) InterAct Curriculum, World Organization of Webmasters (WOW), and other groups, as a united forum within which to pursue their shared goals of improved Web development education.

John Allsopp is the initial chair of the group.

W3C initiating members are