How do you force a middle-aged dog to learn new tricks? Assign them for a class…

I’m mostly spending my time this week trying to wrap up my semester, but I of course have had to start planning for next semester, too. I put off thinking too hard for my Writing for the World Wide Web class in any great detail, in part because I wasn’t sure it was going to have enough students to “make,” and in part because it was too hard for me to think about right now.

And also in part because of the dilemma I have about the class as a “web”/computer class and as a “writing” class. On the one hand, while it is clearly important that students learn about some of the software required for making web pages, it is awfully easy for the software tools to crowd out the writing. On the other hand, a class that simply dwells on the writerly elements of the web at the expense of the software defeats the purpose. You can’t put “good writing” on the web without a certain level of mastery of the tools. And on the third hand, I think the students who sign up for a class like this kind of like the idea of spending more time with the computer tools.

Well, the clock has a way of helping you make some decisions, right?

So yesterday, five minutes before I had to go to my second of three meetings for the day, I called up the book store and ordered the following:

What Is Web Design? by Nico Macdonald. I haven’t read this one yet, but it comes highly recommended by several tech-rhet colleagues, and I was looking for something to replace Robin Williams’ The Non-Designer’s Web Book, which I saw as getting a little long in the tooth.

The Web Style Guide by Patrick Lynch and Sarah Horton. I’ve been using the online version of this book for years, and I think it’s time to get a hold of the paper version. There’s something about a tangible book that promotes students actually reading the material, but that’s another topic….

Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide, by Eric Meyer. This is the book that inspired my entry title, and if there was any question as to where I decided the class was going to end up in terms of the balance between “computer stuff” and “writerly stuff,” I think this book tips it toward the computerly. Plus this will force me to learn (along with my students) the ins and outs of CSS, finally.

Ought to be an interesting class…

I’m teaching two other classes in the winter term, but more on those later. For the time being, I have about 30 deadlines to meet and one procrastination blog entry is enough for one day.

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