Why I want to study HTML & CSS from the beginning

A graphical despiction of a very simple html d...
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OK. Part two of my quest to be a person who understands code.

For those of you unfamiliar with what code is, it’s the parade of letters and brackets and delimiters that makes the pages on the Web look the way they do. Without code, we’d be looking at computer screens full of boring reams of text and numbers. There would be no fancy buttons to click, no aesthetically appealing anything much to hold our interest. That’s what it was like in my College days, when I’d walk into the bowels of a primitive computer lab in what must have been 1986, and look at guys (because everyone in there was male!) staring at green screens typing in letters and symbols. Ahhh…the folly of my ways. If only I’d been paying a little more attention? If I had, I’m pretty sure my bank balance would be looking a lot healthier than it is right now!

Over the last couple of years, I’ve become a whole lot more interested in what is the backbone of the web: code. Because I’ve been using tools in my classrooms that sometimes require me to embed code to make things appear, I’ve begun to realise there are gaps in my knowledge base that need filling. I’m pretty sure I could continue on and function perfectly well without knowing the ins and outs of code, but there’s something in me telling me it’s important that I make some effort to have an understanding of how things work.

I’ve also begun to look closely at what we do in the school I teach at. We don’t offer formal ICT classes. We are a 1:1 school, and we expect that our teachers use technology in a meaningful way in their classrooms. But that leaves a pretty big gap when it comes to student understanding about the workings of the web. I don’t want the kids I teach to miss out on opportunities. I figure if I gain understanding, I can find a way to transfer my knowledge to them, and I think that’s important.

I’m hoping to learn how to have a working understanding of how HTML and CSS work. I’d like to be confident enough to construct a webpage myself; to be able to tweak pre-existing code to do something that can change the look and feel of a page. I’d like to be able to participate in discussions where I felt like a participant rather than an observer.

My previous post contained questions that I had to give myself a score on. I tried to be brutally honest, but I do have to admit that I’ve never really been able to bend a spoon using the powers of my mind, despite the hours of practice I gave to the task after seeing Uri Geller do it on The Done Lane Show when I was eleven. I think I was pretty straight up on the other answers though, and my series of ‘0’ responses attests to this. I know what it is, but I have limited knowledge of how to do it!

What I do know is that you can change the look of a page by tweaking code. Occasionally I play with the sizing of objects by changing the numbers in the code, but that’s about as far as I go. I’d love to feel confident enough  to just inherently know what it is I need to do to significantly change something.

Jamie has asked participants to tell him what makes them happy. Plenty of things.

My son still holding my hand when we are walking in public places.

A student who appreciates what you’ve done for them and tells you with a smile.

My dog who greets me effusively every time I walk in the door.

My daughter sharing stories with me as we drive to and from school.

My husband telling me he loves me.

My parents being proud of me still, and supporting me in everything I do.

My close friends sharing laughs, and sometimes tears, over a glass of the good stuff.

Writing this blog.

Sharing my thinking with others and feeling like I’m making a dent in the universe.

Jamie also asked us to tell him what we’re passionate about.

Easy answer. All of the above.

HTML & CSS from the beginning – week 0

I’ve expressed interest in a Peer 2 Peer University course, and Jamie Curle, the guy running the course, has asked potential participants to write two blog posts as a pre-requisite task that will help him to identify suitable candidates. This is necessary, because there are 20 places in this course, but around 60 people have expressed interest.

So, these next two posts are make or break moments for me. Will I have what it takes? What exactly will it take? I have no clue really – I’ll just do my best to be honest and try and inject a bit of me into my writing. The course is, as the title of this post suggests, about HTML and CSS coding -something I’ve become increasingly interested in over the past couple of years. My first task is to do as follows:

I want you to rate yourself on a scale of 0-10 where 0 is ‘none at all’ and 10 is ‘lots and lots’ on the following questions.

  • I understand html – 5
  • I understand the concepts behind HTML – 5
  • I understand how to view the source of web pages – 3
  • I understand how to structure a HTML document correctly -2
  • I understand the anatomy of a html tag – 2
  • I understand how to use the right tag for the right purpose – 2
  • I understand the difference between classes and id’s – 0
  • I understand what makes a good class name and a good id – 0
  • I can ‘think in html’ – 0
  • I understand css – 0
  • I understand the concepts behind CSS – 0
  • I understand how to view the source of CSS documents – 0
  • I understand the best method to attach CSS to a HTML document in any given context – 0
  • I understand how to apply style rules to a HTML document – 0
  • I understand the general syntax of CSS – 0
  • I understand the basic CSS selectors – 0
  • I understand the advanced CSS selectors – 0
  • I understand how different browsers interpret CSS – 0
  • I can ‘think’ in CSS – 0
  • I am able to bend spoons with my mind – Can’t everyone?
  • I understand the quirkiness of browsers – 4
  • I am motivated to learn – 10
  • I am enjoying myself – 10

Now, in our current education system, I’m pretty sure my responses would equate to a ‘you are not a suitable candidate’. But in the Peer 2 Peer University system, I’m hedging my bets that my final two responses hold a fair bit of weight. I’m hoping so anyway.

So, Jamie, part one completed. While I’m on a roll, I just may leap into part two.

Stay tuned…