The Future of Web Design Education
The Future of Web Design Education featuring a Case Study of Clemson University’s Graphic Communications Program
By Chloe Liggett
Chloe is a BECK Digital enthusiast with a weak spot for business planning, full cycle digital marketing and killer content.
Now that Web Design is a developed industry with emerging power players, the education space that teaches future creators and developers is evolving. From primary school to higher education programing is becoming more integrated into curriculum and computer technologies are becoming common place in the classroom. Growing in parallel to tech education is interest amongst potential web developers in an industry they did not realize could harness so much creativity, design, and problem solving.
One may ask why schools are introducing and pushing computer science programs in K-12 curriculum. Computer science lays the foundation for web design skills that may be covered in later education and computational thinking is a highly regarded skill. Benjamin Herold attempts to bring some light to the question in his 2017 article “Emerging Research on K-12 Computer Science Education: 6 Trends to Watch” on edweek.org. While his research suggests that there is no one specific reason, most computer science educators believe “[the] most prominent is related to economic and workforce development.” The workplace is undoubtedly becoming more digitized and reliant on an online presence, digital advertisements, storefronts, and transaction portals to facilitate purchases, so it would make sense that preparing future members of society to have more advanced computer skills. Plus, early exposure could spark interest in students who eventually might want to pursue a career in a tech related position, like web design. While there is now way to predict how the workplace will look in 20 years, the current trend predicts an emphasis on and movement to online.
As the number of students exposed to computer science at an early age increases, so does the interest in preparing and educating these students for careers in web development. “Within GC programs around the country, interest in offering web design and development has grown. Some schools have built out concentrations in these areas others, like Clemson, offer courses that anyone can take based on interest,” says Erica Walker, assistant professor at Clemson University in the department of Graphic Communications. Before 2018, Dr. Walker was the only faculty to teach web design in the department. Earlier this year, Daryl Stevens was added to the team and took over as lead lecturer of the graphic communications web development course. In 2017, the department began offering a front end development and UX course, taught by Santiago Gomez of Atlanta. Gomez has professional experience in development solutions for design and interface. This change to make web design and development courses into their own concentrations and courses is a contrast to past education practices involving “[learning] these skills in a really intense, boot-camp style program that lasted a couple of months… run by independent companies, not associated with a college or university degree,” says Walker. Using Clemson University’s Graphic Communication as a sort of case study, it’s apparent that web design is starting to take center stage in some courses and in student interest.
How do we bring interest to students with no background in development? Many of Clemson Graphic Communications students have their first experience with coding and web design in a digital media course, opening a world they didn’t realize could be so creative. Most students in graphic communications love to design which goes hand in hand with web development. Once the interest is sparked, Walker finds that many of these students are likely to pursue a career in web design and get a lot of enjoyment out of it. Going back to early exposure of computer programing will naturally spark interest amongst a greater number of students. Finally, general aspects of society are becoming web heavy meaning the next few generations will be raised in a computer based lifestyle which will ultimately affect their career and education paths.
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