The franticness of working in the web business

Some interesting quotes by Richard Davey from his talk HTML5 Gaming on the Mobile Web is now live on Adobe TV:

Things you’re told not possible today might be by the end of the project

and

Be prepared to un-learn what you know every 6 months

Think of new features that appear in a canary/beta build, and 12 weeks later (at most) land in the stable build; Think of the flexbox spec that has changed quite a bit since it’s first incarnation; etc. — Oh, it sounds so familiar.

~

Linking back to my job as a lecturer in web: It’s a very tough job to teach students things about the web.

The difficulty of the matter is not the issue here — sending a rocket to the moon is hard, HTML/CSS/JS isn’t — but constantly adapting the course materials to all new developments is. The courses I teach (HTML/CSS/JS/PHP) change every year and therefore require lots of preparation, research, and testing.

I constantly push new subjects into my courses, mostly in the the third and final year and then let them propagate “in reverse” towards the first year. Our 3rd year students for example officially learnt jQuery last semester on top of their VanillaJS knowledge, whilst the 2nd year students already were taught about it, as the subject is propagating backwards into the curriculum.

Unfortunately I officially do not get any extra time allocated to extensively research/develop these new course materials: the management cannot be convinced that NodeJS for example is a whole lot more than your average lines of basic JavaScript. In their eyes NodeJS is JavaScript (which it is) and thus the same (which it is not), so I should be able to do it without any extra efforts.

Above that it’s very hard to finding the right balance between stuff students absolutely need to know, and stuff only worth mentioning without overloading the curriculum. It’s impossible for one to know everything about the web nowadays, yet it’s my job to (vaguely) know about them and point my students in the right direction.

An example: Whilst CSS preprocessors is a highly interesting subject to teach about there simply wasn’t any time left the past few years to go into detail on them — there was other, more important, stuff to teach them about. I only had time to mention it, hoping my students would remember it and take a look at it for use in a(n after-hours) project. Next year, fortunately, we’ll have a place to fit it in 🙂 Other subjects my colleagues and I omit on purpose as we take an educated guess, guessing they won’t be around anymore when our students receive their diploma (which is 3 years later). For example: we’ve removed IE6 rendering issues from the curriculum a long time ago.

About the Author

Bramus is a Freelance Web Developer from Belgium. From the moment he discovered view-source at the age of 14 (way back in 1997), he fell in love with the web and has been tinkering with it ever since (more …)

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5 Comments

  1. We’re in the same boat Bram. What you have written down, could have been a post on my own blog, without ever knowing you wrote this.

    I’m facing the exact same issues where management doesn’t realize or wants to realize what’s difficult about teaching web development. Don’t give us, keep raising the issue until we find a way to convince them to invest more so that we can be the best teachers we know we can be. If only they let us.

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