A letter from WASP-EduTF to Skolverket

On May 19 2006 a letter was sent on behalf of The Web Standards Project’s Education Task Force to a number of people at Skolverket, the Swedish National Agency for Education. A press release (Gymnasieskolans undervisning i webbteknik ska lära för framtiden - inte gårdagen) was also sent to approximately twenty Internet and education-related Swedish magazines.

This letter is an attempt to influence Skolverket to update the development methods being taught in Web related subjects in the Swedish Gymnasieskola (equivalent to the U.S. Senior High and the British A-level).

A few quotes from the letter’s abstract:

The education in the subjects “Interactive Media”, “Internet Programming” and “Information technology” must give the students the ability to develop for the web of today and tomorrow. There is a risk that the education will continue to teach, as it is do a large extent doing today, outdated and technically inferior methods.

But it is of utmost importance that the education provides a foundation, from which the students do not need to un-train and re-educate themselves, because they have been taught the wrong methods. The school should be an onramp to highway of the future, not a dead-end street into the past.

We do not say that standards and accessibility is the only thing one needs to know, when building a modern site, but we do say that there are no other valid options for building websites, when we talk about these aspects.

The letter was written by Lars Gunther and describes the opinion of The Web Standards Project’s Education Task Force. It has been reviewed and co-signed by a group of Swedish web professionals who want to make the web better and more accessible: myself, Tommy Olsson, Robert Nyman, Peter Krantz, Martin Janner, and Björn Hagström.

A full description and downloads in various formats are available in Swedish and English at Webbutveckling 2006.

Posted on May 22, 2006 in Web Standards

Comments

  1. Great initiative.

    A similar letter should be written to the correct departments here in The Netherlands. It’s awefull and in my study, the only time I heard the word W3C drop was during an accessibility class presented by a blind speaker… sigh

  2. You should send letters like this to most relevant education departments across the globe.

  3. And Belgian schools could also use a little push in the right direction! I tried to convince my teacher to start teaching xHtml and CSS but he really just didn’t get the point. Oh so frustrating. And right now, i’m the only dude (out of 21) to finish in the web design/multimedia market. Some people just don’t get it, and are afraid to learn new stuff.

  4. May 22, 2006 by Ryan

    I finished education about a year ago, I spent my entire time learning web standards (all everything else attached to that) on my own. My tutors just couldn’t understand what I was doing and they were TEACHING web design! grrr

  5. There are several spelling and grammar errors in the English version though it seems as like a sensible suggestion.

  6. oh my god! I have waited for this day to come, you wouldn’t believe how outdated stuff they are teaching us… The only thing we used CSS for in Webdesign A was to style text.. I don’t even think that our teacher knew what W3C is, seriously.

  7. Nice one Roger! One of the hurdles of the web development industry is that of formal training of which there is not much of use by my understanding.

    I have looked about at various stages in my career but things tend to move too damn fast for education courses to keep up. The end result of this is I’ve remained self taught.

    Keep up the good work! Maybe my daughters will have the opportunity to follow in my footsteps (with proper training) thanks to good sirs like yourself ;-)

  8. May 22, 2006 by Paul

    At my college (UK) we were taught webdesign as part of the IT course, in the first year. It was only towards the end of the year that we even got on to floats and positioning.

    Hell, at the start we were being taught how to use spacer gifs!

    The odd thing was, the tutor was a Linux buff, so obviously had some sense; however, the material he had to teach is outdated.

  9. Fab idea. I wasn’t aware of that particular task force before.

    I wonder. Would it be a good idea/possible to have a letter like this that could be used by all and sundry on a local level with some minor modifications?

  10. I just need to add that Lars Gunter’s work and driving force is commendable, and I’m happy to meet people that work so hard for a better web.

    @Gareth,

    I think that sounds like a splendid idea! Given the content of the letter, I think a lot of it can be re-used and only slightly modified to work in other countries.

  11. Great initiative and while they are still at it - why not change the computerknowledge lessons to teach an Officepackage that doesn’t cost a few thousands kronor and instead teach a free like Open Office? The lessons on gymnasiet in all sorts of computerknowledge are ridicolous here in Sweden…

  12. We could indeed use such a letter for our government as well. I am currently studying as a “mediegrafiker”, where everyone can sign up and after 4 years be a “professional” - the problem is that the teachers is under-educated and by that, the general level of education is very low. People learns to make websites by drawing in Photoshop, slicing it up in ImageReady.

    Kind regards,

    Thomas aka. “The undersigned” - Denmark

  13. Well, it would be nice to need such a letter for the government where I went to school. At the time there was no education on web publishing in the curriculum, and as far as I can tell from the Ministry of Education Website there is still nothing of the sort.

    Each school is still free to make up some of their own courses, but in that situation there is no standardized level of knowledge that has to be taught and I doubt that many schools are creating them. Even if they are imagine how many letters might have to be sent!

  14. Things are no better in Belgium I’m afraid. I considered a php-course recently, but got put off when I saw that they also offered html-courses and were still advocating “building a site with frames” and “building a site with tables” in the course, no mention of CSS. So I coudn’t help but wonder about the quality of the php-course on offer and gracefully declined.

  15. May 23, 2006 by gusc

    Great!

    In Latvia we also need such kind of initiative, because in every school where are some web development studies going on, they are still teching table based layouts - all about cuting the design, nesting tables and also “frame-work”. That is awful!

  16. May 23, 2006 by Johan

    The only thing that has been rightfully taught is graphic design - where often people from the industry teach design and animation.

    I guess people from the webstandards development industry including JS, CSS, DOM, etc. should be teaching at these schools instead of only giving expensive workshops to the corporate world which a poor student simply cannot afford. It would take too much time to re-educate the existant educators:

    why? They are already too much familiar with doing it the wrong way!

    I made recently a commentary on how webdesigners learned their skills: lots of them are self-taught while others wasted maybe a whole year learning outdated stuff.

  17. @Robert Wellock:

    The English translation was made in great haste and yes, it’s not an example of good grammar…

    @Gareth:

    I have proposed to WASP-EduTF that this document could be rewritten for specific countries and specific schools/universities. On our mailing list we will work out some issues and probably release the document under a usable Creative Commons license.

  18. No worries as my Swedish doesn’t go much further than “Ya hahr ett stoort shag”, and several words I can pickout.

  19. ErikHK//

    Haha, you don´t know if your techer knows what the W3C is? I´m all positive my teacher don´t. I´ll graduate next wednesday and last friday i finished my Multimedia B course. I had to stay in school to work on my last assignment which was a website to our class.

    Finally, the site was finished, and i sort of hoped for a higher grade due to the code of this site because it was kind of a big project. And what´s his comment? “I don´t know if I can give you the higher grade. Your HMTL is kind of strange, and where is all the code”, he said. I explained that I wanted to seperate structure from presentation and thereby the other “code” is in the CSS-document. “Hmm, unnecessary that you have to keep two windows (the HTML and CSS) open all the time”, he said. And before this he was the last teacher I still had some respect for…

  20. Same thing would be needed in Slovenia. All the schools teaching topics directly or indirectly linked to web design or development use deprecated methods of the past. That goes right through the computer interest groups in primary schools up to serious classes in the universities of all kinds. Cheers to WASP!

  21. May 26, 2006 by Arto

    I participated in a webdesign-contest this year. It was part of a bigger contest, a sort of young-business-project for high schools. They gave us some guidelines about how we should make a website: “The key to a clean layout are tables”. sigh

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