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JANUARY 11, 2010   

First day, new semester

One of the most interesting, challenging and occasionally frustrating things about teaching in a community college like Tri-C is that every class is different. Way different. Because we have an open admissions policy we get students fresh out of high school, 30-somethings back in school to continue an education put on hold by kids or other responsibilities, and experienced professionals looking for a career change.

Chart drawn on whiteboardProbably nowhere is this more common than in Web Publishing I, one of the classes I taught today.

This introductory web class always has a few 20-somethings who have no idea of what they want to do but think web design sounds pretty good. Sitting next to them (especially in the last few years) will be designers with 10 or 20 years of experience who've been told they really need to get up to speed with this web stuff. And in between, people at all different points in their life journeys.

To try to get a read on the mix in today's class I drew two lines on the board, one for Design and one for HTML (the code used to create web pages). I asked students to mark where they thought their skills were in each area by putting an "x" somewhere between "Newbie" and "Expert."

You can see the range: pretty accomplished as designers (though not everyone), the group is clustered tightly near the Newbie end when it comes to HTML (there too, a couple of folks are at the midpoint or beyond).

The hard thing is balancing the instruction and work so that everyone is challenged but not overwhelmed. The great thing is how these differences can lead to wide-ranging discussions and sometimes unexpected connections. We're off on another mini-adventure exploring the web.

More: The first day of last (Fall) semester.

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