HTML and CSS from the beginning – Week 3 & 4 reflection (and public failure!)

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Have you ever declared something in a public place and then lived to regret you ever said it?

I’m sure plenty of you have, so you’ll be able to empathise with me as I declare here and now that I have failed spectacularly at the P2PU course I enrolled in.

So, what went wrong?

I think I overestimated my ability to commit time to learning something that is totally new to me and requires so much concentration. I find it hard enough committing time to writing here when I’m working full time and trying to do my best by my workplace and my family. Taking on a whole new set of tasks just kept falling by the wayside.

I was also completely overwhelmed by the discussions taking place in the Google site that was set up to support the project. It seems like most of the regular contributors were already Web developers whose skill set far surpassed mine. Many were already talking about CSS in the early stages when we were learning basic HTML. I felt intimidated and just kept out of discussions because, quite frankly, I had nothing of value to add.

When I did express my failure within the group, Jamie Curle, the course organiser, was very supportive and encouraged me to take things at my own speed. I felt supported, and want to thank Jamie for that.

I did learn quite a lot throughout the process, but more about me and how I prefer to learn and less about code! There were no webinars supporting this course, and I felt like a committed time where I had to sit down and devote myself to taking information in would have been helpful for me. Really early on I was struggling with some basic questions I needed answered, but they seemed so lame I didn’t want to ask them in the google site because I was watching threads that were way above my level of understanding. I needed a reference point where terms were explained, but really, I could have sourced this myself.

This is probably one of the first times I have been intimidated by course content, and I took the tack of ‘push it to the back of the list of things to do’ rather than meeting it head on. I’ve watched students take this course of action over my many years of teaching, but now I feel like I truly understand why they do so. It’s not a good feeling being out of your depth. This experience will certainly help me to have greater empathy with students encountering difficulties, and hopefully I’ll be more open to varying the ways I deliver instruction.

Today Jamie announced that the course is ending before the CSS part begins, because he is having difficulty managing the preparation and follow up needed for the course, along with the demands his own design business.  For me, a relief, for others, disappointing. I totally understand where Jamie is coming from. There comes a time when you need to look after yourself and your own mental health. I have over-committed myself in recent years, and this year made a determined effort to pull back a bit. I think it’s made a difference to my interactions with those closest to me and that’s important. Hopefully Jamie will feel that his decision has been a positive one for him personally.

So there you have it, public failure I am.

But that’s OK. I’ll live on to see another day, and maybe one day the opportunity will arise where I can immerse myself totally in understanding the basics of coding. In the meantime, I’ll keep my eyes peeled for an intensive workshop in some exotic location somewhere warm!

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…