Digital lessons…does anyone still build websites?

Alongside this blog I have my own website. I use it mostly for two main purposes, firstly to present my own work as an artist and also to provide a storage and presentation space for my educational work. I am at the moment in the process of overhauling the sight, clearing it up where it’s got a bit unnecessarily complex or overly full and giving it a restyle.

Although this is quite a long and drawn out activity I do quite like doing it. The structuring of the site is an interesting puzzle, you try to work out the most logical and easy to follow construction for potential users. This is then combined with designing the look of the pages, which is simply something I like doing. Hopefully, within a week or two I’ll be able to upload the site, a job well done.

webdesignWhile I’ve been doing this I’ve been pondering a little about websites in general and digitization in education. I remember ten or more years ago we offered pupils at the school where I work workshops for those interested in website building. A useful skill it was thought in this digital world we were heading into. Pupils did battle with the horrible Microsoft Front Page, a piece of software that thankfully seems to have disappeared.

As I was setting in place the umpteenth hyperlink on my own site I found myself wondering how many people actually still do this for themselves. Despite the presence of plenty of good software out there to help, has website design, become the dominion of the professional? A bit like the way modern car maintenance has got rather too technical of the home enthusiast. How many people actually go through the stresses and strains of building and designing their own site?

To be honest I have no idea what the answer is to my own question.  What I do know though, is that alongside the software to help build a website, there are so many other alternatives. Services where you just have to drop your information into an existing template or a template that you have tweaked at the edges to work it into a form more to your taste. Everyone can thus create their own digital place. In education terms I also suspect that the move towards iPads and other mobile devices this tendency is only going to grow.

I’ll be pressing on with the redesign work of my own site, like I said, I quite enjoy doing it. I do feel a little geeky doing it though, especially when the maintenance of this WordPress site for my blog is so easy. Obviously we do still need the digital technicians to help create WordPress like facilities, but are the enthusiastic amateur web designers going to slowly go the way of the floppy disk? And would the pupils I teach have the slightest idea where to start on such a project?

A few would I guess, but a great many wouldn’t. Teenagers are without doubt huge users of the digital world, but are they creatively engaged and involved in any way as they flit from one site or app to another? The success of games like Minecraft would seem to suggest that there is some sort of a creative energy to be found, others are creatively productive in the use of online mixing desks for producing digital music or are making imaginative and experimental films in quantities that have never before been possible. Most though, are simply users and consumers. Those who are genuinely creative will find their way to be so, whether within the digital world or beyond it.

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