Educating the educators on best practices for the web

27 Mar 2006

There is a lot of chatter going around about bringing current best practices of web development and design to the masses. I've voiced my opinions on the majority of web firms and I'm not the only one that thinks that way.

Unfortunately for those of us promoting standards and best practices we are running up against a lot of friction. Not only from stalwart designers and developers still using their own prehistoric methods but also from our quote-unqote governing bodies and the education sector. In particular I find it the most disturbing that, of all people, our educators and educational institutions are so resistant to updating their knowledge and practices.

There are rumblings recently regarding schools — which include colleges, private institutions, and universities — giving poorer grades to students using standards and current best practices. I haven't heard these stories firsthand but given that most educators are promoting the use of outdated techniques and methods I can believe it has some validity.

How do we achieve this change?

The first thing we need to do is re-educate the educators. These institutions must understand that the web is constantly evolving. While they may have once been students it would seem that they have abandoned the student mentality of learning.

If our educators are promoting outdated methods we can't expect much from the next generation. Of course, the next generation seems to be more in touch with current trends but, as I've said before, our reach is not as far as we sometimes think it is.

Even if they can't keep up with the bleeding edge these educators need to at least be understanding of what is currently going on. Experts in the current best practices and standards can, and should, offer help to these professionals. Some are suggesting monthly or quarterly mini-conferences within their universities/colleges. These mini-conferences or meetings would allow the educators slightly familiar with current trends to ask questions and get some practical knowledge using them. For instructors with no experience dealing with standards and current best practices this would give them the exposure they so desperately need. Either way it's a start to increasing the knowledge of current best practices on the web.

What can you do?

If you are interested in “increasing the knowledge” there are a few ways to get involved. The first decision is to figure out whether you want to help from an organizational standpoint or be more directly involved in the actual education. Below is a list of links to people and organizations looking to make these changes. If you are interested in helping them feel free to contact them via these websites.

Out of curiosity, I'd be interested to know how many local developers are interested in helping to promote current best practices. If you are interested, leave a comment below.

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