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Mark Trammell Interview : Comments

By D. Keith Robinson

October 24, 2005


Chris Griffin

October 24, 2005 10:41 PM

Great Interview, You hit the nail on the head when you said that most schools are teaching using circa-1998 practices. I was a former University of Central Florida student and they don’t even know what web standards are, hell I don’t even think they know what HTML is.

A trend I notice is the state universities that have a web development program (usually called Digital Media) can not keep up with technology. For example, The Digital Media lab at UCF had make-shift PCs that had to been upgraded like 4 times with 1 mac…1 MAC, a G3 at that. But funding is the least of their problems. At UCF, for some reason they thought it was an intelligent decision to hire 70 year old over the hill instructors that were formerly execs at computer/technology companies. Sorry, I don’t know one web developer over the age of like 35 (no offense to any 35+ web developers). Actually, I wrote a long blog entry a while ago on this.

Schools that specialize in the Digital Arts such as most of the Art Institutes are, in my opinion, a much better place to learn. They teach less theory and more practice. They actually have instructors that are actually working in the industry. Though, I attending the Art Institute of Portland for a brief moment and they are even behind times. They are still teaching table layouts and more flash developers come out of there than web developers, not necessarily a bad thing, nontheless I felt I was better off quitting and teaching myself.

Some schools that teach “digital media” love to also throw in classes from a whole bunch of fields. For example, a trend I saw at UCF and Full Sail is they have the Digital Media students take 3D Modeling classes. That’s more of a Game Art and Development class. I can probably the rest of my life without knowing 3D Studio Max.

Anyways, design schools have their work cut out for them. Web Development is still very young and its very fast pace. The private, independent schools are still way ahead of state universities

Richard Quaite

October 25, 2005 1:10 PM

It’s all good stuff, and I couldn’t agree more, but I can’t help but feel that the web design industry must shoulder lots of the blame. I for one have spent years complaining about the lack of suitable graduates, and suffered when trying to recruit – I’m sure I’m not alone.

Whilst it’s true that the web (users and clients) suffers with the situation as it stands, it is our industry, and every web design professional, that suffers most. A lack of suitable graduates means that progress is impeded, and some of these people will be completely turned off working in the industry by the lack of support and opportunities available from those of us within it.

What we need to do – as any maturing industry should – is begin to ensure that we shape our industry into one that ensures it’s future health and success. Books and training materials are a hugely valuable step in the process, but to my mind, there is plenty of excellent reading material available today… there’s much more we can do. We need to support education by offering experience and opportunities that are unavailable in the classroom through schemes such as industrial placements, and when we’re having conferences, we need to be inviting undergraduates. If the industry’s ahead of education, we need to bring the students into the industry at the earliest opportunity.

We’re building an industry where one never existed, and we’re building a good one. We need to all take responsibility for being inclusive, and ensuring education serves our needs so that we all get the benefit for years to come.

Kevin S.

October 27, 2005 5:28 AM

Great interview. I had a few questions about the book as well, but you seemed to cover them all. I was particularly interested in the UFL website as well. Living here in Florida it was a good feeling to see a prominent website get a nice redesign. Did you create the CMS too, or was that supplied by an outside programmer?

I also have a question for you Chris. As a former UCF student, do you find their courses to be suitable for a student about to enter college in the design field. I’ve been coding pages since I was 10 (five years ago), but as of right now I haven’t found any type of design program that can even compete with the courses offered by Full Sail. Sure it’s pricy, and I’m willing to pay the fees, but after hearing about Mark’s teaching at UCF I’m starting to wonder if I should go there instead. Any thoughts?

Kevin S.

October 27, 2005 5:34 AM

Chris: Nevermind, I just read your post and comments over at your website. I had seen your site a while back when registering on a lot of the Florida designer listing websites, but never really read anything. AIFL seems like a great school. Are you currently enrolled there? Anyway, It seems I’ve got a few decisions about which school I should be enrolling in.

Devon M

October 27, 2005 10:58 AM

I was enrolled at a college in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada taking what they called “Digital Multimedia Technology“ which translates into New Media Design. The curriculum for web development centered on Accessibility, Web Standards, XHTML structure and CSS design as well as unobtrusive scripts. I’m surprised to hear that i’m (seemingly) part of a minority of (former) students who have been taught to code according to the w3c. Our technology was top of the line as well.. Adobe CS producs, Macromedia MX products, Mac Powerbook g4’s (2002-3), PowerMac g5 stations (2003).

However, being taught in that fashion and jumping into the working world, i find that the majority of the local industry is stuck in WYSIWYG’s with bad coding techniques. I’ve surprised a few with how quickly i can code, how well it looks (CSS and divs, as opposed to tables) and how clean it is to read (xhtml, divs). It also seems that they don’t have the patience, or time, to get with the times.

I was, however trained to work in a studio setting, as i have little to no training in business, which i feel was the only thing i can complain about with my course. I constantly read on applications: Must have 2 years experience. I’m forced to stumble through the freelance deal blind until a studio gives me a shot.

As per chris’s comment on jam packed media courses, my course was also packed with many other things. A short term on copy writing for the web (really just showing us how to shorten paragraphs), typography, graphic design, analytical studies, drawing, video production, plus classic and 3d animation, on top of the web development/project management/dynamic content classes.

Jim S.

October 28, 2005 5:39 PM

I love what you did with the UF site… by the way it’s Florida Georgia weekend… GO GATORS! I had to do that… I live in Jacksonville.

As a side job, I taught extended learning web courses at a community college (in the evenings) for 3 years and it was usually… “ok the book says this… I am going to teach you this…”. The books were throwbacks to the late 90’s and had I taught by the book there would have been a slew of table minded web designers coming out of those classes. I hope academia catches up and in turn the corporate world begins listening to forward thinking developers and designers. It has to a degree, but just browse the web and you see that we have a long way to go.
Jim S.

mark rush

October 29, 2005 2:19 AM

Ive been all through higher education in the UK – from a BTEC National Diploma, through a BTEC Higher National Diploma and finally through to a BA in Multimedia – having worked in the industry and REtrained a fair few interns (from universities) im astounded that they dont cover basic client facing skills, communication of concepts and ideas, proper presentation skills, and how to basic office stuff such as handling calls, faxing etc – and WHY do tutors give months on projects that in the real world would be completed within a day or so?

girl with gas

October 29, 2005 3:26 PM

I graduated in 2001 and had to take 3 semesters of fricking COBOL. Yeah, COBOL.


October 31, 2005 5:04 AM

“academia is not keeping up with the Web


November 20, 2005 12:48 AM

Great interview !! Just picked up a copy and buzzed right thru it. Have to say that I was very impressed and learned alot. One quick question any solo books on the way?


November 22, 2005 6:03 AM

Great interview. I had a few questions about the book as well, but you seemed to cover them all.

Ashley Bowers

November 23, 2005 12:12 AM

Really excellent interview.Thought you and the team did a great job with the book and hopefully look forward to another one in the future.

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