A New Approach to Advanced Online Media

I have been teaching Advanced Online Media for several years. In the past, we have used this course as the platform for our SXSW coverage, adding advanced content. This year, we have a new class dedicated to the SXTXState Project, and this class has taken a complete Programming and Data emphasis. On this site, I will be chronicling our progress. We've already met twice this semester and are well on our way.

The students in this class have all taken my basic Online Media Design course, a beginning web design class. So on the first night of class, I had them dive right back in with a refresher on Responsive Design and the application of some HTML5/CSS3 concepts. It was a little rocky at first, as students cleared the coding cobwebs from their brains, but by the end of the evening, I think all felt a sense of accomplishment. There were some problems, but I think the main issue is FOCUS and understanding. I will continue to emphasize that students should think about why they are coding what they are coding, rather than just typing things in from my handouts. And they will need to learn how to solve their own problems and help one another.

On week two, we had another aggressive set of lessons. We spent half the class covering Forms and Form Processing. This will be the basis for some of the programming we do later in the semester. For now, they learned how to make a form with various fields and how to use PHPFormMail to process the results to an email address. Later in the semester, we will do more advanced programming with PHP and My SQL  to process a form to a database.

During the second half of the class, we covered some basic Excel functionality. I have found that students may think of Excel as a word processing program with rows and columns and not as a powerful spreadsheet tool. So, we covered math, sorting, functions and charting. They have an assignment to find a .csv, work with the data in Excel and create one or more meaningful charts to post on our class blog. There are also readings on how to find data and choose a proper chart. I will be interested to see what they come up with at this point. The Outline on this site has all the reading and handouts displayed if you care to take a look or even follow along.

Hopefully throughout the semester, we'll be able to share some of the guest speakers we are having with the SXTXState project team.

This week, we begin our exploration into real programming by moving into Javascript and JQuery. Stay tuned!