Anatomy of a Web Design Education

After going through graduate school for Interactive Media, I noticed there was a distinct difference between what was being taught in schools and what was actually needed in the workplace. This effect is often cited as a five-year difference: traditional schools take five years to catch up with what the private sector is doing.

In an effort to close that gap between traditional schools and the private sector, a fair number of motivated individuals in the industry devoted a year of their time in order to help Web design and development educators.

During SXSW Interactive 2009, this Education Task Force for The Web Standards Group (WaSP) launched Interact, an educational framework for Web design and development instructors: a guide for teachers to use in-full or in-part, for their courses.

The first release of this framework version includes 12 courses set across six Web design discplines:

  • Foundations
    • Internet Fundamentals
  • Front-End Development
    • Web Design 1
    • Web Design 2
    • Accessibility
    • DOM Scripting
    • Findability
  • Design
    • Digital Design Production
  • User Science
    • Information Architecture 1
  • Server-side Development
  • Professional Practice
    • Internship
    • Independent Study
    • Professional Development

Each individual course itself is made of several components:

Overview
A summary of all the items available in the course.
Competencies
A listing of the topics in the course and their respective set of competecies a student must master.
Assignments
A helpful listing of assignments for students to use along with a rubric for grading them as well as a handy Excel spreadsheet for tracking the progress of students.
Exam Questions
A series of questions to use to evaluate students.
Resources
List of various materials that teachers can use to aid their instruction.
Learning Modules
Extended exercises for the students.
Contributors
Listing of people who helped bring this course together.

Take It, Use It, Rip It, Remix It

Like I mentioned before the curriculum frame was designed so teachers and institutions should feel free to use any or all of the material. Each course is licensed under Creative Commons. The only price that is paid to use it is to attribute the material back to Interact.

One thought on “Anatomy of a Web Design Education

  1. Love the curriculum and wished I could’ve attended the SXSW session. I agree: while my graduate education was invaluable, I didn’t find out until later that some of the teachings were behind the eight ball by about 5 years. But that seems to be true in most places, I’ve found.

    I’ve also noticed other trends. In particular, I’m seeing that local colleges and art institutes stacked with adjunct professors still working in the biz seem to be offering more practical curricula. The Art Institute of Charlotte, for instance, has produced a lot of Bank of America web designers, and their curriculum seems to be pretty current.

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