Week 1 reflection: HTML and CSS from the beginning

Lesson number one.

Don’t get sick in the first week of a P2PU course.

I’ve been trying to deal with a virus and still go to work. Bad idea. If I had have taken the necessary time off early on, then I might have warded off the problems of the last week. Achingly sore throat, no voice, developing into hacking debilitating cough. All sapped me of energy and I didn’t spend enough time working on the requirements of the HTML/CSS course.

Jamie set us the task of getting to know the people in the groups we’ve been allocated to. I did that, because I’m good at making contact and feel comfortable sharing information. I’m in a group with Alejandro, Jesus, Justine and James. They hail from Mexico, Venuzeula, Florida and Sweden and all of them seem to be a lot more adept with their skill base than I am. That’s made things seem pretty daunting. I’ve wanted to ask questions, but I’ve found myself in the uncomfortable position of feeling not up to the task. It seems to me that the questions I need answering are all pretty basic and it’s somewhat embarrassing to have to ask them. If there’s something I can take away from this last week, it’s the ability to have greater empathy for the kids who are struggling with concepts. That’s me right now, and it’s not a great space to be in.

I figured out the text editor I needed when using a Mac, and tried writing out what I assume is pretty basic code over and over. I haven’t committed it to memory, and haven’t spent enough time doing it. I can see I am going to have to devote time to catching up now that I’m starting to feel a bit better. I want to know how coders know how far to indent code for specific lines, but once again, it seems like a lame question to ask. My take is that you just have to get a handle on the indentations and where they need to lie, and then use the tab to move to a space near where it begins and use the arrow key to get it in the right position. I’ll have to spend more time on this rote learning task in the coming week and hope I can catch up.

I haven’t done the view source exercise -another thing that I need to catch up on. It’s not hard, just compromised because I’ve been getting home from work and pretty much doing what needs to be done for the kids and then trying to sleep in between coughing.

Jamie isn’t providing video lectures, but to be honest, I think something like that would help someone like me. I feel like I need to be shown before I try and do stuff by myself, probably because this is so new to me. I haven’t used the IRC chat room, and probably should have. Like I said before, my questions seem so base level, and it feels a bit embarrassing having to ask them!!

I do want to learn from this course, but that means I have to do the work. I am going to have to commit double the time this week to it so that I can feel like I’m on top of it. Wish me luck!

Why I want to study HTML & CSS from the beginning

A graphical despiction of a very simple html d...
Image via Wikipedia

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.