Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Teaching WBT to Instructional Technology graduate students

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Apr 29, 1998

Posted to WWWDEV 29 April 98

Scott Gray wrote, HTML can be learned in one full day. If a Ph.d. can't learn HTML then that person doesn't deserve a PH.D.

More accurately: people can learn the mechanics of HTML in one day. This allows them to publish a ream of bad web pages. Good HTML design is a lot more than merely learning the tags.

I've taught k-12 teachers HTML in one day seminars, so a PH.D. candidate should be able to handle it. To see how I teach people HTML go to

The tutorial is very nice. I would have presented the information differently, so users need not scroll so much, but that's just me. The server scripting behind the forms are elegant. I would say this is the result of many days' practise.

And ...

On Tue, 28 Apr 1998, Gary C. Powell wrote: While yes, having a Ph.D. in Instructional Technology AND knowing how to program w/ HTML and JAVA, etc. would be very marketable, I'm not sure how many of them (us) want to. Its hard to have an advanced expertise in everything. Not to mention, many designers like designing, and not coding.

Um. Coding *is* designing.

I cannot imagine someone holding a degree in instructional *technology* without having mastered, at the very least, HTML. How is it possible to design when you are unaware of the limits and possibilities of your medium?

Think about the range of topics one studies in an IT doctoral program, such as needs assessment, ISD, evaluation, qualitative and quantitative research methods, instructional theory, human performance technology, ed psych...need I go on???. Is it reasonable to expect an IT Ph.D. to also be a HTML hacker????

Yes, just as it is reasonable to expect an artists to know how to use a paint brush, or a writer to know grammar. HTML, Javascript, even Java, are now the *media* in which design occurs. They should not be viewed as separate subjects.

Nobody thought it was odd that I ought to learn at least rudimentary Latin when I was writing comprehensive exams in philosophy. This is because Latin is the medium in which many great writers worked, and in order to fully understand what they were expressing (and what they *could* express), I needed to at least get a feel for the structure and limitations of the language.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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