A br/ through?

Now that my blog is apparently famous (still not sure I buy that one), I’ve spent some time figuring out what it will take to make it more famous (it’s true what they say – fame is addicting).

I’ve discovered a couple of things in trying to make my blog more attractive, user-friendly, and search-engine-friendly.  The first one has some serious relevance to education – particularly to topics like collaboration and social interaction. One thing I noticed in actually paying attention to blog stats is that the more I am reading and commenting on other blogs, the more hits this blog seems to get. Hmmm…an interesting theory: the more I go out and interact with others, the more they come and interact with me. I wonder if students could learn something from this.

The other interesting thing I’ve learned is that, in order to have an engaging and efficient presence on the web, it’s become almost a necessity to understand a little bit of html code. One example is the AddThis buttons I just added to replace my “Meta” links. In order to put those onto the sidebar of my blog, I had to insert html code into a text widget. The same goes for images in the sidebar. Another example is trying to put a Voki on my class webpage: in order to do this, I had to look into the source code instead of the visual editor and paste the Voki code in the right place. For me, this wasn’t too difficult – I have a very basic understanding of what html looks like.

For others with less computing experience, however, this is a daunting and, often, terrifying ordeal. I helped a couple of teachers with the Voki thing and they had no clue what I was doing. I imagine the same is true of most students I teach. As the internet continues to evolve past Web 2.0, I am beginning to think that users are going to need to know some basic html code if they want to be contributors on the internet. In other words, it seems that html coding is going to be yet another 21st century skill.

I guess the question I have to ask is simple: are we preparing students to use this 21st century skill? Obviously if it really is something students will need to be able to do, and we say students need to learn those skills, we need to teach them somehow. Apart from a class on computer programming, anyone have any ideas on how to do this? Maybe have them format an essay in html?

EDIT:
I tried to make the title clever and have the “br/” in angle/pointed brackets (some nerd humor). Sadly, it gets blanked out of the title… 😦 So I have to leave those up to your imaginations…like I said – very basic understanding of html.

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2 responses to “A br/ through?

  • lhuff

    Interesting–HTML a part of 21st Century Literacy. I hadn’t really thought about this until your post. I suppose you’re right; those of us who have gotten serious about blogging have had to pick up a little HTML. Perhaps, the better skill–the one that will apply no matter what the Internet looks like–is problem solving. Afterall, that’s what you’re doing when you have to use HTML to make the blog or web page do what you want it. Just having this dialogue with students, modeling our own struggles and problem solving is valuable.
    Speaking of HTML, on my blog we’ve been discussing online social libraries. Have you been able to include a Library Thing widget on a WordPress blog? Anything with JavaScript doesn’t work on mine. I was able to include a Shelfari widget on my Edublogs class blog (I didn’t try a LibraryThing). I’d love to solve this problem.

  • thehurt

    Definitely true – in order to use the html stuff, I had to figure out what some of the html means (that’s the only way I learned it). Perhaps using html could be a nice avenue into teaching problem-solving – a means rather than an end.
    As far as LibraryThing goes, I haven’t really used it at all. I did some research and WordPress won’t do any javascript (something about potential for hacking and viruses). If we could get the Shelfari widget in html, it would work. I’m trying to get through to someone there, but I haven’t heard back on that one yet.
    I haven’t used it much, but I know another possibility is Goodreads. Not sure if it runs into the same problems, but it may be worth checking out.

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