How many of us would trust the design of your business’s website to a 15 year old? This past month, I met some JH students who could do exactly that.
Mr. Post invited me to his class for a most interesting challenge. Rather than be an observer to see the wonderful things that his students were doing, I was to be a participant in the class. For the past three months his students have been learning to build web pages from the code level on up. This project was to be judged by myself, Ms. Lambe and Brian Yan Muk (a former JH grad now working in the web design field).
Web Design is a new course at JH this year, and Mr. Post and his students have taken on the challenge of the new with relish. No simple “drag and drop” editing for them – they headed straight to using HTML code and the powerful Adobe Dreamweaver editing software. By the time they presented to us it was clear that they had a strong understanding of what is “under the hood” of a quality website.
A key part of The Learning Project this year is sharing our learning, both as adults and students. Mr. Post has been exemplary in this regard, discussing what he is learning with others, and demonstrating to his students that they don’t need to know everything, but that if they are curious and take risks, it will pay off with deep learning.
In order to take sharing the learning of himself and his students to a new level, Mr. Post organized a competition set up in the same way that a company might take proposals for a web design contract (or any contract). It ran a bit like an episode of Dragon’s Den, in that the student’s were given a brief for a fictional animal support company and given time to put the product together. They were to plan a presentation to the executives (in this case myself, Ms. Lambe and Brian Yan Muk). For the students this is a solid piece of “real world” experience. If you are a business seeking to sell your services to client, you are often in competition with other agencies. In the classroom, students get the best of the both the education and business worlds. They experience the process of a business competition, but they also get feedback on how to improve their next proposal, which you rarely get in a traditional tender process or RFP.
We reviewed the proposals based on how closely they adhered to the brief, the quality of the Web Elements (images, mailto, rollover, and several other key feature) and design elements (well organized main menu, clear purpose, ease of navigation, and so forth).
In the end there were three that stood out in a field of high quality proposals.
The winners of our competition were the Siberian Tiger Awareness Foundation, or STAF, and the group was composed of Alvin, Teresa, Devaansh, Zeshan. Jacob and Donny. Their site was clearly laid out with an organised color scheme, single page navigation and great use of current web tools, including embedded video.
The second place group was the BC Animal Adoption Program, presented by Jules, Angelo, Bridget, Jed and Taranjit. Their bright header, clear navigation and engaging information catches the attention of the view and draws them into the website.
In third place came the Paws for a Cause team, with an innovative header and background.
For me it was thoroughly enjoyable experience, and a chance to be part of the essential feedback process that students need to experience in order to improve in their work. Well done to all the teams, and to Mr. Post’s innovative approach to learning.