Teaching applications, as many colleges seem to do, is terribly short-sighted. Even teaching standards-based technologies such as XHTML, CSS and DOM scripting in isolation can be fraught with issues, particularly where the curriculum is taught by people without an every day grasp of best practices. So there are several areas where I believe students ought to be focused, on classical design theory, typography and other core design areas. Most importantly, as you know that everyone you know has learned for themselves rather than be taught, is for students to learn how to learn, continually and for themselves.
I believe that although design and development skills rarely combine in one individual, that complimentary areas should be taught together. For example, XHTML markup and CSS are not the role of a developer, but should be the domain of the visual designer whose task it is to convey meaning through visual design, colour, typography and code.
If you could create your dream curriculum for web design and development, what courses and information would you include? Why? What courses and information now in such programs would you eliminate? Why?
That’s a huge question and not easily answered. An ideal curriculum for web design would include classical design theory, typography, and other core design areas, plus best practice for markup and CSS, sprinkled with emerging technologies/ideas such as Microformats. In my ideal curriculum, the focus would almost definitely focus on visual design for the Web as a means of creative expression and use supporting technologies in their place, rather than as the main focus.
I need to see imagination, a desire to think outside of the box that brings inspiration from all aspects of visual design into their work. Most important I need to see examples of clear, justifiable thinking and an attention to every detail.
By calling on thought leaders and practitioners in the web design and development areas to teach and pass on current thinking. Colleges and college staff, professional educators, should rarely teach themselves but should instead act as conduits to enable students to interact directly with those in the outside world who are living these areas.