Digital Guyana

To round off the course and consolidate the learning of the previous weeks, we ended the course with a quiz. 38 points were up for grabs and we were pleasantly surprised by how much all the groups got into it. There were some pretty high scorers too, so they must’ve all been paying attention.

Here are the questions:

HTML

1. Which tags open and close an HTML page?

2. What are the tags for?

a) Paragraph
b) Bold
c) Italics

(3 marks)

3. What does HTML stand for?

4. Name a web browser.

5. <img src=”pictures/photo.jpg”></img>

Is the above an image, link or table?

CSS

6. what does CSS stand for?

7. Here is some sample code for linking a .CCS document to a web page:
<link href=”….css” rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/css” media=”all”></link>

Which of the following tags does it belong between?

a) <title></title>

b) <head></head>

c) <body></body>

8. Here is a style attribute:

background-colour: blue;

However, there is something wrong with it, what is this?

9. List two more style attributes. (2 marks)

10. What will the following styles do to a web page:

body {
background-color: black;
}

h1 {
font-size: 18pt;
color: yellow
font-family: verdana;

p {
font-family: arial;
font-size: 9pt;
color: white
}

(3 marks)

Social networking

11. What does ‘open source’ mean when referring to software?

12. Name three social networks.
(3 marks)

13. What is the name of the free, user-created Internet encyclopedia?

Blogging

14. What’s the difference between a ‘post’ and a ‘blog’?

15. What is a ‘blogroll’?

16. Name an online service for finding blog posts written by others.

17. What does ‘SEO’ stand for?

18. Why are links important in blogging? Give one example.

19. Why should you avoid using ‘click here’ as anchor text in links?

20. How many bloggers had signed up with WordPress.com as of Sunday evening, 9 August 09?
153,000, 207,000 or 378,000

Good content

21. Scannability refers to the tendency for peoples’ eyes to skim around web pages more than they would with a printed article. Related to this is the 10 second rule. What is the 10 second rule?

22. Which type of fonts work better online than print, Serif or Sans Serif?

23. Why is it a bad idea to use blue writing on a purple background?

24. Why is it useful for websites to use taglines with their titles?

25. Why is it a bad idea to use really long paragraphs?

26. Name one way you could you check for spelling mistakes?

27. How much slower do people read on the computer screen than print? 25%, 50% or 5%?

GIMP

28. What does the crop tool look like in Gimp?

29. Name two ways to resize an image in Gimp?
(2 marks)

30. What is the keyboard shortcut for undo?

(Maximum 38 marks)

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On the last day of the course I asked Matt a few questions about the project and his experience in Guyana.

Pontus was only able to make the first two weeks of the project but was an indispensable part of the team, developing the HTML, CSS and advanced HTML parts of the course.

I put a camera in front of Pontus and asked him a few questions at the end of his stay:

Now I’m back in England (and in an office with an incredible broadband connection) I’m able to upload some of the video that I took while out in Guyana.

I’ve got interviews with some of the other guys to come. In the meantime, here’s some footage of us (mainly Pontus here) feeding the manatees in the Georgetown National Park:

For more info read Pontus’s earlier post about the manatees.

In an earlier post I said that a crew from NCN had come to interview us for a feature about our project. Well, here’s the feature itself:

It’s a shame that Hugh’s contribution wasn’t included – most likely due to someone noisily starting up a van’s engine mid-interview.

Big thanks to NCN for airing the feature out and for giving us a copy.

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The first part of this specialism on good content focused on writing skills. I came up with four exercises which were designed to get the participants thinking about best practice in terms of writing for the web.

Exercise 1. Titles and taglines.

I split the group up into pairs and gave them three website scenarios (see below). I then asked the pairs to come up with titles and taglines for the websites. As previously explained in my workshop on content skills, a website’s title should be relevant and descriptive – and hopefully memorable too – and a tagline is important because it helps further explain what your website is all about. So the purpose of this exercise was to hammer home these points while getting the participants to think creatively about websites.

1. A friend of yours is starting a blog on nightlife and music in Georgetown. Can you help him come up with a title and tagline for his new site?

2. Adventure junkies, a new Guyanese tour company offering treks to Kaieteur Falls and more has just launched. It aims to attract a younger clientele with the promise of adventure and bargain prices. Can you come up with a catchy tagline for its new website?

3. The ministry of education wants to develop a new website which will help foster web development skills among young people in Guyana. The site will offer free tutorials on HTML, blogging, content skills, picture editing and plenty of links to free open source software. Can you help them come up with a name and tagline for the website?

The pairs then reported back to the group and me and together we critiqued their titles and taglines.

Exercise 2. Shortening paragraphs.

Because it’s physically harder to read online and people scan web pages more quickly than they would printed material (scannability), in general shorter paragraphs work better online. So to get the participants more used to the process of editing down and cutting out words I asked them to shorten these opening paragraphs from the following news stories by five to ten words:

Bald penguin given wetsuit to prevent sunburn
When Ralph the penguin lost his feathers it looked like he wouldn’t be able to swim with his friends at Marwell Wildlife – until he was fitted for a mini wetsuit to stop him getting sunburn.

Chinese women confuse immigration officers after cosmetic surgery
A group of Chinese women who travelled to South Korea for cosmetic surgery baffled immigration officers on their return home when their new looks did not match their passport photos.

Michael Jackson fans flock to see Egyptian model ‘lookalike’
Michael Jackson fans are flocking to a Chicago museum to see a 3,000 year old Egyptian model which looks remarkably like the late king of pop.

Exercise 3. Headline writing.

I then asked the participants to come up with headlines for these news stories. I stressed the importance of brevity, descriptiveness and relevance – clever and cryptic headlines don’t work so well online due to search engine optimisation and scannability.

I asked the participants to show me the headlines they came up with and we had a quick chat about them. I then revealed what the actual headlines were and explained why they were worked well as online headlines.

Exercise 4. Splitting up paragraphs.

Because readers are put off by long paragraphs – even more so online due to scannability and the fact that it’s harder to read on a computer screen – I came up with an exercise that would get the participants thinking about splitting up paragraphs.

I provided them with a travel feature on Guyana which I had removed all the paragraph breaks from and asked the participants to insert thir own paragraph breaks. We then went through the feature together discussing why the writer had put paragraph breaks in at certain points and seeing if they coaleasced with where they had put their paragraph breaks in.

Day 3 Morning – Beginning the Assignment

The project set comprised of making a short animation in which a character walks up to a car, enters, and drives off. I thought this was an apt choice of project as not only did it cover all the skills that the students had been learning (with the exception of lip-synching, which they had all mastered very well) but it also encouraged creative application of the skills they had learned. For example the car, in order to be animated more realistically, would need spinning tires – a use of the MovieClip symbol that I had not taught them, but could be figured out from what I had. The same goed for animating the character opening the door and getting in the car.

Most of the morning session comprised of me answering and questions the students had and assisting them with any problems they encountered.

Day 3 Afternoon – Further Reading Plus Inspiration and Group Assessment

In the afternoon session, whilst the students finished up their work, I introduced them to the popular website Newgrounds.com. Newgrounds is a web-based animation forum for animation mostly made in the flash environment. It is a completely user-generated content website, and so finding high quality animation can sometimes be difficult. However it is a great resource for seeing what the flash environment is capable of. Whilst the students worked I played a series of my personal favourite animations which showed various different styles and complexities of approach to animation.

I set a deadline for the projects to be completed, exported to Quick Time and on a memory stick for about 3:00pm. At this time I uploaded all the files onto the computer I had been using (which was hooked up to a data projector) and played the animations back for everybody to see. There were some impressive, creative responses to the project and I am very proud of the work the students did. Of course they are not quite professional quality yet, but for a week long project they did incredibly well. In addition they now have almost all the skills they need to, with enough passion for it, push the finesse of their animations toward professional quality.

I would like to take this opportunity to pass on my hearty congratulations to all the students who took part and to thank them for the opportunity to share my knowledge with them. It has been an absolute pleasure and I hope that got as much out of it (or even more) than I did.

I will include a list of resources and a few of the animations I showed my students in a further post at some point in the near future.

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