Course Content Policies

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OWEA Members Involved in this Focus Area

  • Aarron Walter (lead)
  • Lars Gunther
  • Leslie Jensen-Inman
  • Mark DuBois
  • Scott Fegette
  • Jeff Brown
  • Terry Morris
  • Virginia DeBolt
  • Dave McFarland
  • add your name here

Session outcomes

  • a summary of course content type (standards vs proprietary)
  • a proposal of 2-3 options from which the team can all vote


Key Questions to Resolve

See the Discussion page for member comments.

  • Should OWEA produce, compile, and/or maintain curricula?
  • If so who contributes content, and what is the process followed for submission?
  • What types of content would be allowed in OWEA curricula?
    • Front-end engineering only (concepts and technologies within the W3C)?
    • Do we include user science, design, etc?
    • How do we handle proprietary content such as Flash, Silver Light, etc?


Course Content Policies - OWEA WERock Retreat Notes

Should OWEA provide a “Seal of Approval” to existing curricula, courses, teachers or schools that are doing thing right?

  • Would be very difficult for us to police
  • We’d have to check in on regular intervals to ensure the correct content is still being taught
  • It would require a great deal of people traveling all over the world to check in on curricula
  • Conclusion: this would be too resource intensive to be practical

Should OWEA create a graded support system akin to Yahoo’s browser support system that would identify topics worth of teaching, those that are problematic, and topics that should not be taught?

  • OWEA members in the industry will likely feel alienated if their technologies are explicitly given a label of “Not Endorsed”.
  • A “do not teach” list may still be a helpful tool for educators who might still be teaching table-based layouts, and other out-dated techniques.

Should OWEA adopt an existing curriculum or start its own?

  • Starting from scratch would be unwise as it would waste a great deal of time, and would miss a great opportunity to take advantage of existing content such as WaSP InterAct, Opera Web Standards Curriculum, and select content from Yahoo Juku.
  • Because WaSP InterAct has a framework for content development and contributions, and already connects to Opera WSC, it seems quite logical to roll it into OWEA.

If OWEA adopts InterAct, should InterAct move out of WaSP and into the W3C?

  • Taking InterAct out of WaSP may not be appreciated by other WaSP members. Conversely, because WaSP’s mandate is to affect change in the industry and W3C, it may also be perceived as a triumph to see it make a great change in the W3C.
  • InterAct could be co-branded with WaSP and OWEA, but this poses problems with the URL, where the site resides (W3C may require that it be on their servers), and potentially may complicate the memorablility of the name.
  • If InterAct moves to OWEA, content development may become easier as AIGA could contribute to the Design learning track, and both IxDA and The Information Architecture Institute – both of which are working on their own education initiatives and would be logical collaborators – could contribute to the User Science learning track.
  • This is yet unanswered, and the WaSP InterAct team needs to weigh in on the issue.

How will OWEA address content outside of the domain of W3C or even proprietary?

  • Because the goal of OWEA is to prepare students to be web professionals, the curriculum content should not only promote web standards, but it should also teach best practices. It should be practical so students have relevant skills, and that means addressing proprietary tools and technologies in places. This might seem at odds with the mission of the W3C, but an intelligent curriculum framework can keep OWEA true to organizational policies while adequately preparing students for their careers.
  • Each course would have a vendor neutral core consisting of competencies, readings, assignments, and exam questions. Learning modules would be created as guides to classroom instruction on topics defined in course competencies. Third parties could contribute learning modules that teach proprietary technologies while adhering to the core principles and best practices of the course. See figure 1.
  • In the case of courses that address important technologies that have divided support and relevance to the industry such as Server-side Scripting, a core course that includes common competencies would be created. It can then be forked to address language specific issues with additional competencies and learning modules, though assignments and even many exam questions can be shared. Patterns and frameworks research would be encouraged research in such courses so students would be afforded the opportunity to critically review competing concepts.

Course-Structure.png Figure 1. Course structure

How will course content production be managed?

  • All courses and supporting material would adherer to a strict structure and style guide.
  • Courses would be authored in teams of invited experts following a traditional publishing model. A domain expert form the industry would work in tandem with an educator to author a course. A technical editor would review course material as it is being developed. A production editor would guide course authors through issues of structure and form, and would manage the production schedule. An acquisitions editor would assemble the team and coordinate all efforts. See figure 2.

OWEA-course-development.png Figure 2. Course development structure

How will OWEA keep its curriculum current?

  • Production editors will be responsible for future review and revisions of courses to keep them up to date and relevant to industry needs.
  • Courses will undergo a review annually and be updated accordingly by the course production editor, and an invited expert.

How will OWEA address the issue of content openness, localization, and external contributions?

  • Though the core of all courses would be developed inside of OWEA, educators and experts from around the world would be encouraged to develop assignments, exam questions, and learning modules for courses.
  • Externally developed content would be reviewed by OWEA for content accuracy, fidelity to form, and appropriateness for the course before publication. Should contribution volume increase to a difficult to manage level, OWEA may consider a more general moderation system with user rating systems that allow quality content to float to the top.
  • Educators would also be encouraged to contribute teaching notes offering fellow educators guidance on pedagogy, classroom strategies, and how to address learning challenges.
  • Open contributions to the OWEA curriculum affords the opportunity for educators around the world to solve localization issues that course authors may not have considered.
  • Open contributions to the OWEA curriculum also creates community and good will around the project.