Web Curriculum

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Description

What is the proposal?

Encourage and produce curriculum materials for use in educational institution. W3C should provide a permanent forum for the work of the Open Web Education Alliance Incubator Group. Here are a list of points related to operationalizing this proposal:

Goal and Aims of WebCraft Curriculum

The curriculum effort would be aimed primarily at meeting the needs of educational institutions, which are most in need, have the most rigorous requirements, and have the most impact by reaching large numbers of people. However, because the materials are freely available, they can also be repurposed for self-teaching tutorials and training, or even potentially for certification of trainers or students.

In order of priority, this proposal will emphasize these different aspects of the effort:

  • structure
  • pedagogical methodology
  • fundraising

Long-Term Maintainability

For long-term maintainability, with updating of materials, we would not rely only on a core of writers, but create a wiki/CMS with invited vetted professionals, and public reviewers. This directly engages the community, another goal of W3C going forward.

Impact on Other W3C Work

This would likely result in more comments from educators on the teachability of specifications. The review of materials should be conducted primary as a function of the public peer-review process, just as specification review is. It would be beneficial, but not strictly necessary, for the the participants and Team Contacts of in the relevant Working Groups to aid in this review. This may decrease some of the pressure on Working Groups to produce supplementary materials such as tutorials and primers.

Criteria for Success and Projected Timeline

  • Year 1:
    • create a framework within which multiple curricula from different institutions can be adopted, reviewed, and distributed
    • finalize an initial curriculum
    • establish Web Craft pilot programs in at least one university, one community college, and one high school
    • develop grant proposals for self-sustaining funding and resourcing.
  • Year 2:
    • develop outreach activities to promote curriculum in more educational institutions
    • reach self-sustaining funding and resourcing
    • have at least 100 contributing participants
    • have at least one representative in the top 10 non-English speaking web communities worldwide
    • run 5 successful conferences/outreach events
    • give at least 20 guest lectures at universities in the UK and US
    • have links and support from government in at least three countries.
  • Year 3:
    • have at least 3 published books on the curriculum
    • aid in the creation of a dedicated degree program for Webcraft, either 4-year or Masters
    • have material in use at the top ten US and UK universities; have positive feedback from industry that students taught with the curriculum are more job-ready than before.

Demonstration of Interest

In order for this effort to be successful, it needs to meet the needs of the community it intends to serve. Through the OWEA / WaSP InterACT Curriculum and the book published from these materials, there has already been considerable interest by governments, educational institutions, and industry in this effort. (See also Web Curriculum Endorsements.)

Governments

  • Australian department of government policy for economic development
  • UK government's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), specifically as part of their eAccessibility forum
  • Swedish National Agency for Education ("Skolverket"): Sweden's "gymnasium" secondary schooling system (A-levels, senior high), optional 4th year, with a special engineer degree (gymnasium engineer)
  • Should also consider National Science Foundation research grants, which may have educational component

Educational Institutions

The following organizations have adopted parts of the (OWEA) WaSP InterACT Curriculum

  • University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
  • University of Georgia
  • Texas State Technical College
  • Harper College of Illinois
  • Art Institute of Atlanta
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU), which has even adopted the term Webcraft from OWEA
  • Damascus High School in Maryland

Industry

A few of the W3C members which have been actively participating in this effort are:

  • Opera
  • Yahoo!
  • Adobe
  • Mozilla

Personnel

The qualifications, skills, role, and responsibilities of the Team member to oversee this effort are described in detail in the proposed Web Curriculum Position draft job posting.

The specific W3C hiring manager for this is to be determined, subject to W3C internal discussion.

Relationship to Similar Efforts

The relationship to other efforts such as MIT Open Course Ware, Web Science, etc. is complementary, not competitive, and could have synergistic feedback, as with P2PU

Rationale

What is the benefit for the organization in implementing this recommendation?

In order to foster the deployment of the universal open platform for the Web, it is important to educate the community, especially students.

There is a skills crisis in the web industry, with many employers finding it very difficult to find graduates to hire that actually possess the skillset they need to do the jobs they have on offer. For example, Yahoo! have their own training regime called Juku - an intensive 8 week course designed to teach new "front end engineers" the specifics they need to know to do the job they have been hired for, supplementary to any formal or informal education the developer may have.

The root of this problem is education:

  • web design and development may be a difficult skillset to teach, because the technologies and best practices change so rapidly
  • the skills needed for web development are not as easy to compartmentalize inside a traditional course structure, as it is part programming, part design, part media, part social interaction, and so forth
  • many educational institutions do not offer any kind of web course
  • those educational institutions that do usually treat only one aspect, inside the computer science, media or graphic design department, where the Web is often underserved
    • computer science courses tend to focus more on high-level material than on specific languages or technologies
    • media or graphic design courses usually train in the use of tools, rather than the underlying technologies
  • teaching material is often out of date
    • many existing web courses and units were written many years
    • most books, web sites, and tutorials are very dated, and are normally not peer reviewed
    • teachers often develop an idiosyncratic curriculum that they then reuse, without sufficient updates, for several years, not out of lack of interest, but out of lack of time and resources to identify the newest developments and needs of industry
    • teaching material rarely explains the benefits and techniques of accessibility

Thus, the most common way for web professionals to learn their craft remains the self-taught route (view source, peer to peer learning, etc.)

Cost

What (if any) is the incremental cost to W3C to implement the recommendation? Is there a natural way to diminish the cost by refocusing existing people (i.e. reprioritization)?

The cost is likely to be minimal, given the proposal from OWEA. This is assuming that no revision of the W3C Membership agreement is necessary. Some startup cost includes one FTE for one year only, to get it going until it gets pay for by government institution, and travel expenses.

Note that the certification program depends on this proposal.

The Task Force strongly advises in favor of hiring or partnering with recognized experts in the domain in order to implement this proposal.

Financial benefit

What (if any) income arises to W3C as a consequence of the proposal?

The proposal is intended to be auto-financed. Potential revenue from member organizations should be allocated for maintaining curriculum, outreach, and other educational aspects.

Decision body

What is the most natural place for the proposal to be approved/decided? Director? CEO? W3M? AB? AC? other?

W3C Headquarters

Status and schedule

What is the level of maturity of the proposal. Can it be thought of as reasonably complete? If it is immature, what is the schedule to complete the proposal?

This proposal is mature.

Intellectual Property Concerns

Are there any special Intellectual Property Concerns if W3C were to implement this proposal?

Specification excepts, license associated with course materials.

Finance Discussion

A key element of our efforts is to look at financial implications for W3C over a 4-5 year period. When providing cost data above, it is useful to provide a 5 year view as well (assuming that it is a recurring activity). During the task force, as we come together on which recommendations are the best ones, we also need to keep an eye on the aggregate implications for finance.