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Syllabus

CTN 160 Course Syllabus

Yes, it's long. Read it anyway.

Your friendly instructor

Al Boss
alboss@southseattle.edu
More contact information is below.


This South Seattle Community College course, CTN 160: Introduction to Web Publishing (Web Production I), introduces students to Web production using xHTML. Students learn xHTML and the fundamentals of creating a Web site: identifying site goals and a business plan for the site, how to incorporate design, layout, graphics and other elements into a site, how to create tables, input forms, frames, and how to implement their Web sites using FTP and remote file management. The overall goal is to create and publish a viable and usable Web site consisting of valid hand-coded, platform and browser independent xHTML that meets practical and legal accessibility requirements.

Contact information

Office Hours:

My "office" hours are by appointment. ("Office" is in quotes since I have no office on this campus.) I can be reached by phone or email.

Al Boss
(206) 263-7832 (my work phone at King County; please don't abuse it)
alboss@southseattle.edu (I don't always check my SSCC email daily, so if it's urgent, you'd better call.)

Sometimes I leave an instant-message client running at work. It's there for WORK purposes, so please don't IM me to tell me what-all the dog did today.

IM (instant message) options:
Note--these are for instant message, not email; I don't check these email accounts)
AIM: albertwboss MSN: awboss@hotmail.com
ICQ: 13400646 Yahoo: albertwboss

Google: albertwboss@gmail.com

If you don't know what IM is, then you probably don't have it, so don't lose any sleep over this; just email me instead: alboss@southseattle.edu.

More information about me is on my profile page.

My employer, King County, is reasonably understanding of the fact that I'm teaching this class, but sometimes you might contact me when I'm in the middle of a project or deadline. I'll try to help right away if it's only going to take a minute or two, but I can't really use County equipment to do work for the college, so please don't take it personally if I tell you I need to get back in touch with you later.

Premise

For this course, you will be treated as a contract employee. You will be paid in a currency called "points", which is paid at the end of the quarter.

  • There's no paid time off, so if you don't show up, you don't get paid.
  • Full payment depends on:
    • the quality of your work
    • whether you deliver what was requested
    • whether you meet your checkpoints and deadlines
    • how well you work with, and get along with, others
  • You've been hired as a contributor. You will be paid for quality active participation in conversations related to the work we're doing. These happen on the discussion board.
  • Ongoing progress is expected and must be reported via a (minimum) weekly blog entry.
  • Ultimately, if you want to get paid a premium amount, you need to demonstrate that you have command of a body of knowledge, that you are able to learn, and that you can apply this knowledge to whatever problems come up.

Course Structure and Requirements:



Required and Recommended Material:

  • Required: Ongoing use of our course Website. (usage instructions are here)
  • Required: Edit via the provided account on http://www.freeshell.org/ (usage instructions are here)
  • Recommended text:
      • Yes, that does say "recommended text". I am a firm believer in the use of a book or two as a reference guide, and these are both excellent books. Sooner or later you will need reference books for work, so if you're able to afford one or both books, I suggest you do so. However, there's not an HTML reference in existence that can't be found online, so if you have good Internet access and you need to spend the money on something frivolous like food or shelter, the bookstore will offer full refunds through Friday, Jan. 9.
    • HTML, XHTML, and CSS, Sixth Edition: Visual QuickStart Guide by Elizabeth Castro
    • Additional readings will be provided on the class Web site or placed on reserve in the Library.
  • Required: CTN 100 (Intro to computers) or enough computer experience that the tool doesn't get in your way (see survival tips below)
  • Required: Web access
  • Required: Email access
  • Required: Participation in online discussions held via the Website.
  • Required: Status report blog entries, at least weekly
  • Required: Other readings, exercises and assignments as noted in their respective sections of this Website.
  • Recommended: do whatever you can to avoid thumb drives as a means to move files between campus and home, due to virus concerns.
  • Recommended: account set up at http://students.southseattle.edu, email and portal page at a minimum

Expectations:

  • Course Website:
    • Please try to read the relevant materials on the course Website. If somebody takes up the whole group's time asking questions that everyone else knows are clearly addessed in the written materials, it can sour the class dynamic really fast.
    • If anything isn't clear, bring your questions to the Q & A forum.
    • If you find anything on the course Website that needs fixing, please let me know right away. The best copy editors are always someone who didn't write the material.
  • Checkpoints:
    • Checkpoints differ from traditional assignments with due dates. They're to be done in combination with the reference/reading materials, as you go. The checkpoints are listed throughout the reference materials for the class (broken up by "parts" on the course Website).
    • Read your way through the materials, and do the checkpoints as you come across them. My intention is that you read a little, try it out, read about the next thing, try it out, etc.
    • The purpose is to give you lots of opportunities to make sure you're getting the concept, instead of having to read a bunch of stuff and then take a test about it. If you get stuck at a checkpoint, send up a call for help in the course Website's question-and-answer forum.
    • We do keep building on what you do in the checkpoints, so you need to achieve them in order to work forward.
    • Checkpoint review: When a checkpoint gets mentioned in the notes, I should be able to visit your site and see evidence of your work on it. Since the idea is to work on the checkpoints in conjunction with reading the course material, I expect to see signs of life out of you in this regard within a week at the latest.
  • Due dates:
    • Due by: Certain objectives (most notably site plans) will include an expected due date. Material turned in by this date is eligible for full compensation.
    • Drop-dead dates: Material my be turned in for one week beyond the due date. Your pay will be docked for every day past due. If the drop-dead date passes and your work has not been delivered, you're in violation of your contract and won't be paid at all.
  • Blog: You'll be using a Weblog to provide ongoing status reports for your CTN160 experience, updated at least weekly. I should be able to read your blog and track how you're doing with the class--success, confusion, ahead, behind, bored, what you've accomplished, and anything else that will help me know what's up with your work here. Blog expectations and instructions are reviewed in more detail on their own page.
  • Online discussion: Part of this class is meaningful participation in online discussions held via the Website. In the workplace, collaboration is increasingly taking place online, so that's the expectation here--contribute to the conversations.
  • Final project plan: The plan for the final project is worth almost as much as the project itself. I urge you to take it seriously. Halfhearted efforts will not reflect well on your professionalism or commitment. I cannot grade a final project that has no plan, so even if you don't get the plan turned in by the drop-dead date, it still needs to be done if you want to be eligible for credit for the final project.
  • This is a 5-credit-hour college course. It will take an investment of time, energy, creativity, and effort if you're going to get your money's worth out of it.
  • The Syllabus is a plan for the quarter and as such, is subject to change. It is your responsibility to be aware of any changes, by paying attention to the class Website.
  • SSCC has published Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) for each course of study, including learning objectives for the Web Publishing program, under which this course falls. (Adobe PDF file.)

Compensation (Grades)

Checkpoints online, on time (30 pts.)
Participation (20 pts.)
Site plan (30 pts.)
Valid code (10 pts.)
CSS understanding (10 pts.)
CSS-P understanding (10 pts.)
Consistent navigation, design (10 pts.)
Working form (5 pts.)
Challenged yourself (15 pts.)
On server and working (10 pts.)
Followed instructions (10 pts.)
Professional quality (no typos, etc.) (10 pts.)
Presentation (10 pts.)

I track accesses to the site--when, how often, how long, how much activity. I use that as a measure of attendance. For online students, participation for this class translates mostly to activity in the discussion areas; for the classroom it's a split between online participation and in-class participation.

Duplicate work

Some students are fortunate enough to be able to work on their assignments with others who are also taking this class. I have no problem with that. Most workplaces encourage people to work together.

This is still college, though, not the workplace. You have to be able to give me, as your instructor, something that will allow me to do my job, which is to individually assess your work and your skills for the college.

I cannot accept assignments that are identical duplicates of one another right down to the same typos, the same mistakes, and so on. The college requires each student receive an individual grade for their work, and I have no way to assign an individual grade if I don't know how much of the work you did. The best I can do in these circumstances is to split the grade between the people (for example, give each of you 50%). Nobody wants that to happen.

It's okay to work together to solve problems, but implement the solution yourself. Type your own code, without copying it letter-for-letter from a classmate. Put your own thought into it. Don't worry about making mistakes in the code; we can correct those before the work is due. I can't help you if I can't see where you need the help, though. The goal of this class is to teach you basic skills. I can't do that if you don't show me YOUR skills.

There's more information on plagiarism, fair use, and copyright covered in the first part of this course, but the reference librarians at the main desk at the South Seattle Community College Library have assembled a lot of information and are an excellent resource that you really should consult before you copy things from the Internet.

For our official policies and definitions of cheating and plagiarism, you can refer to the "Academic Dishonesty" section of the current student handbook. The filename changes too often for me to link directly to it here, but from the campus home page at http://www.southseattle.edu/, click "Student Resources", and you'll find a link to the most current version.

Don't be an idiot

Do not grab some Website off the Internet and try to pass it all off as yours. If you can find it on the Internet, so can I, and I cannot give you credit for someone else's work. I expect and support your looking at other people's source code to figure out how to do something, and some degree of code reuse is normal, but I can't assess your understanding of the material if the bulk of the code is not yours. Again, you have to show me your basic Web production skills, not just your copy-and-paste skills.

The campus, like pretty much any workplace, is a networked environment. You log into the computers in order to use them. This means somebody somewhere knows who you are, where you are, and what you are doing. Do not sit in my class, or anywhere else where you shouldn't be doing it on someone else's network, IM'ing your friends or reading your email. It is discoverable. You have no privacy, and you will have even less in the modern workplace. Don't do things that might convince people that you're not serious about your work. (Apologies for being insultingly preachy about this subject, but I really don't want someone to lose a job because we didn't stress this enough in college.)

Protect yourself

Developing work for the Internet, both in this classroom and in a job, means it's going to be put where anybody can steal it and claim it as their own. Plan now for what you'll do if this happens to you and you have to prove that you're the one who did the work. Many options are available, including:

  • Keep a backup copy of a pre-release draft, burned onto a write-only CD so the file date is evident. (Yes, you can fool this system, but anyone who's going to go to all that trouble would save time just doing their own work; we assume they're stealing your content because of time constraints.)
  • Put something in the code that only you know about or can explain. (Peculiar spacing or indents, perhaps, or other irregularities that won't be obvious.)
  • Make the code so obtuse no one can read it. (Do NOT expect a good grade if you do this for class, though!)

Resources

Class Web site:

Class materials such as selected notes, assignments and the syllabus for the class are posted on the class Web site.

Any online students are welcome to attend sessions of the in-person class, it meets at South Seattle Community College in room TEC 118 (Tech-Ed building, NE corner of campus) on Monday and Wednesday mornings, from 8:00 - 9:50 am. The corresponding Friday timeslot is set aside for lab work, same location.

Computer Use:

Your lab fee entitles you to use the College's computing facilities. You may use the computers in the Library and Learning Center Information Commons during scheduled open hours. Lab aides are available to assist you with use of the computers, but they will not help you with completion of your assignments.

There's also an open computer lab/lounge in the Tech Ed building (Room 127A, aka the GeekHaus), that's usually got some advanced students hanging around in it who might be of help.

One of the best resources for this course is the "Question and Answer" section in the course discussion area. In most of these courses, your fellow students can answer a question you post here before I even see it.

Once again, be forewarned that our shared campus Windows computers have a significant history of seeing viruses transmitted via thumb drives. I cannot guarantee their sanctity and I do not suggest transferring anything between any computer here and your own personal computer by means of removable storage media (thumb drives, disks, etc.)

Survival hints

(Note: hours and resources listed here are as of the last time I checked. Please verify them with the source before taking them as gospel truth.)

  1. If you find working with either computers or with the Windows operating system is so confounding that you're spending as much of your time fighting with the computer as you spend doing the work, please let me know right away. A couple hours training on basic Windows user skills will save both you and me a world of grief. I will either find someone to help you or I'll take part of a day off and do it myself. If the tool (computer) is keeping you from being able to do the task easily, this is a huge problem and one we want to address quickly.
  2. I can pretty much promise that you will, at some point this quarter, mess up one of your files and want to roll back to a previous version. Do yourself a favor and, before you make major changes to something, save a backup copy. When we start using the server accounts for editing files, see the instructions for using a shell account for details on how to do this.
  3. Feeling left behind? Overwhelmed by assignments and reading? Don't wait until the last minute to do something; it will only get worse. In addition to help available at the open labs, the Tutoring Center offers one-on-one help. (Instructor signature required.)
  4. If you're supposed to be in a classroom, attend class regularly. Set aside time every week to do your homework and readings.
  5. Use the Library and Learning Center. It is open weekdays from 7:30am until 9:00pm (Friday until 4:00pm), 9:30am-2:00pm Saturdays. (Check the times via their Website; they are subject to change.)
  6. If you need help, ASK! The tutoring center can help locate assistance in your subject area.
  7. Check the course's Question and Answer forum often, not only when you have a question about something but also to see if someone else has a question you can help with. Remember, we're all in this together.
  8. Do the work! Readings and exercises are not just a random act of torture. It may not need to be passed in and graded to be useful.

Quality control (and SSCC Writing Center)

This might not be an English class, but it is a Web Production class. If there's one thing worse than doing inadequate work, it's doing inadequate work and putting it where millions of people can see it.

I expect professional-quality work out of everyone. Your Websites' content needs to be up to business standards--the kind of thing someone would pay you to do. An employer wouldn't accept sloppy sentences or misspelled words, and neither will I. You should, in the course of this class, produce work that you can show to potential employers and make them want to hire you, not want to avoid hiring you. Therefore, I encourage you to take advantage of the SSCC Writing Center.

The Writing Center staff boasts a great combination of faculty, student peers, and community writers to work with students. They give reader feedback, help students follow the assignments, help students learn to edit, but do not do the editing for students.

There are also plenty of good Websites, such as Purdue University's OWL, http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts, that can help sort out obscure grammar rules.

However, someone with good English grammar and spelling skills (maybe a favorite former instructor?), who doesn't look at your material all the time, can also be a good resource. Fresh eyes can sometimes be the best proofreading and editing one can find. (That's a verbatim quote from one of our students, Denise Lavoie. Please feel free to offer your own suggestions for improvements to any of the class materials.)

SSCC's Writing Center is in the SSCC Library (LIB), room 205. The schedule is:

Mon-Fri: 9:00-2:00
Mon, Wed, Thurs: 4:00-6:00
Sat: 10:00-1:00

(Check the times via their Website; they are subject to change.)

Between yourself, your teachers, your fellow students, everyone else you know, and the Writing Center, there is absolutely no excuse for turning in work for this class that contains errors in spelling, grammar, and so forth. No excuse. None. You might never have these kind of resources again, to help make sure that what you produce is worth showing potential employers. Don't squander the chance.

Special needs and fair treatment

If you have any special needs, requirements, or accommodations that will help you learn the material, please let me know. South Seattle Community College takes the accessibility requirements very seriously, and we will do anything we can to ensure a positive learning experience for our students.

If you ever feel you've been discriminated against or treated unfairly, for any reason, I hope you will let someone in authority know. The campus has very good offices for Diversity & Retention (for cultural, racial, gender, or sexual preference issues), and for Disabilities. If it's me (or another instructor, or anyone else for that matter) I would hope you'd talk to the person first, but I realize that isn't always a very comfortable thing to do. Our Dean is a very approachable person should you need to talk with someone at that level.