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Over the weekend, a couple of people in my Personal Learning Network have mentioned that they would like to learn how to use HTML and CSS.
Users of today's web-applications like Wordpress, Moodle, Google Docs etc will often never see any of the code that sits underneath what they write. These applications provide editing toolbars, not unlike any word-processor.
So why should people involved in online learning need to learn about HTML and CSS?
Here's a list of reasons, and then some places you could go for help:
There can be no such thing as a technophobic learning architect, any more than there is an architect of buildings who hasn't come to terms with the basics of plumbing and electrics."
- You'll have a far better idea of what you're seeing whenever a site like Slideshare or Youtube provides you with code to embed into your site.
- You'll understand your developers better.
- When you need to make changes to your site template you'll know what to look for and what to change.
- You'll understand the things that make a web page inaccessible to blind or partially-sighted users.
Where to go for help?
Top of the list has to be W3Schools, by far the best free tutorial and reference resource on the web.
The O'Reilly Pocket Reference guides also got a very positive mention during the conversation.
There are a whole host of other books available. Check out the reviews on Amazon, but also go and look at them in your library (if you still have one!) or your bookshop. They're all covering the same stuff, but often have very different styles of presentation.
Once you've got past the basics, most of what you'll need is available on the web, for free, in discussion forums and blogs. You just need to know what to search for...
How to get started
However, probably the best way for a novice to start is to find someone who knows your particular field (eg. training/learning) well, can spend some time working through the basics, and then coach you through those initial stages of using the language. (Yes, it really is just like learning French or English, but a lot more logical!)
If anyone's interested, I'd be happy to run something like that. We'd need to get a small group (4-5) together, so there could be some element of peer-learning too. Let me know if you'd be interested, and I'm sure we can work something out. But, please be aware that this would be done as part of my day job, so there'd be a cost involved...
w3schools is handy as a quick reference, but these two sites will take you much more in-depth and are very up-to-date with modern browsers, best practices, and accessibility.
Sometimes there is something that you can't quite change or fix unless you tweak the code at its source.
I disagree. Separating the way a page looks from the content of the page is just good design practice, and means that the content can be displayed in different ways depending on context (eg. print, screen, mobile).