Christian Montoya

Teaching Web Design, part 9

Are you tired of these cheesy numbers? I am. But no need to worry; this looks like the last post in this series. There might be another series if I teach the next web programming course in the spring, but that will be then and this is now.

So last Friday was the last section for INFO 130. Teardrop. I had a lot of fun teaching, and I'm thinking now that my dream job would be a professorship in Information Science. Unfortunately, it looks like doing something like that would be very hard, but I'm keeping my options open. If any deans are reading this entry and are looking for a new professor to teach at their respective university (and do some research on, say, web usability), leave a comment and I'll get back to you. By "deans" I mean college deans, not your-first-name-is-dean and you are about to make a pun about what I just said.

We had our second exam last Monday and while I can't speak about the grades, I can say that quite a few students really didn't pick up on PHP at all. What I can't figure out is whether there are too many students who don't take the course seriously, or if it is just not possible for them to learn the material so quickly. I have definitely seen that some students take the course just because "making websites would be fun," and they expect the course to be easy, but how many students think that way is impossible to tell. I have also seen students that work very hard but just can't understand all the programming concepts they have to learn to write effective PHP. It seems like this course might require a better pre-requisite of computer programming, but the truth is that there really isn't a good intro to programming course at Cornell, especially for non-engineers. The current CS100 course has two options; a stronger focus on Matlab or a stronger focus on Java. Both are very in-depth and neither gives a very good conceptual introduction to computer science… in my experience with computer science courses, the concepts are there but the theory doesn't come early enough. There is a CS 099 that is a very basic introduction to Java, and that would probably be a solid prerequisite for INFO 130, but since I haven't taken it, I can't speak to how useful the course is. It's really up to the professors to decide, but I can say this: anyone who takes a course like CS 100 can learn all of the PHP we cover in INFO 130 in a couple of days, and in that sense, it's entirely possible that INFO 130 might be a better course if it focused more on front-end topics like CSS, XML, and human-computer-interaction, which are topics that one cannot learn in any other course.

Never a boring moment in teaching, right?

Thank you for reading • Published on November 21st, 2006 • Please take a moment to share this with your friends