Monday, August 3, 2009

Web Design for Kids

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“Is learning HTML that difficult?”

These large print words spoke to me from the back of the Web Design for Kids DVD I received to review. I have to confess—I am not very technologically adept. I don’t know a bit of HTML and I designed my website using a program that didn’t require knowledge of HTML. Now this DVD is going to teach my 9 year old child to design her own web page? We’ll see…..

Web Design for Kids (reg. $40, currently on sale for $19.99) is published by Click Drag Solutions and was developed by a middle school teacher who has taught web design to his students. He wants more children (and adults) to understand that basic HTML code is easy to understand and write using nothing more than Notepad and Internet Explorer.

The Web Design for Kids DVD contains 7 separate lessons:

-Basic HTML code

-Sandwiches and Colors

-Make Subject Stand Out

-Stand Alone Tags

-Designing Backgrounds

-Fonts and Paragraphs

-Pictures

It also includes a “bonus section” entitled File Cabinet Management.

We spent a about a week using the DVD, about 1/2 hour at a time, then Emily took a few days to write her own web page (with a little bit of help). Here is a screenshot of what she designed:

Emilysparty

Pretty cool!

What I like:

The lessons were very clearly demonstrated, using very small instructional steps. We were frequently told to pause the DVD to practice.  Emily really enjoyed the practice and the opportunities to experiment.

The teacher spoke slowly and explained everything very clearly. Many things were explained in non-technical terms, to make it easier for children. For example, he likened the html tags to the bread on a sandwich to emphasize that there had to be two tags-- one before the content and one after. The slash on the end tag (</body>) was referred to as a “stop sign.”

The children on the DVD asked questions that the viewers might want to ask, and even made a few mistakes that enabled the teacher to explain the importance of writing the code perfectly. He even listed possible errors to look for in the case that the viewer’s webpage didn’t display as expected.

What I don’t like as much:

The speaker had a lisp, which I found a bit distracting.  This wasn’t a huge deal, but I think is worth mentioning.

The DVD was very explicit about how to create and use folders on the computer—for Windows XP. We were using Vista, so everything looked different. This was difficult for Emily, although it wouldn’t be an issue for a child who was already competent with using folders and saving files on the computer. After the first lesson, we switched to a computer with XP.

Note:

We prefer using Firefox, but the DVD was set up with instructions for Internet Explorer. We used IE for the tutorial. When Emily designed her own page from scratch, we did use Firefox with no problems.

Summary:

I really liked this DVD! The content was explained very well in simple terms. I don’t think Emily mastered everything the first time through, but she learned a lot. I did too. I can look at html code now and can understand a lot of it!  This product is a great investment for parents who want to encourage their children’s computer and technical skills, even those who may not have those skills themselves!  A second DVD will be coming later in 2009 for those who want to learn even more.

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