Some Technical Notes
When did you create this site? How do you maintain it?
I initially uploaded the first few pages in 1999. I only use Notepad (yes, a Windows-based text editor) to write the HTML code. After scanning the pictures, I use either Photoshop or Microsoft Photo Editor to edit the JPG or GIF files. Lastly, I use WS_FTP LE to transfer files from the local host to the remote server.
Geocities hosted my website from 1999 to early December 2003. The domain name dannyarao.com was activated on 9 December 2003 at the same time that I availed of a professional web hosting service. Since the Geocities site is still listed in major search engines and indices like Google and Open Directory Project, the HTML pages there are currently used to redirect to my domain name.
I only used Notepad for this!
Why do you insist on using Notepad? Don't you know that there are WYSIWYG programs to make your web authoring tasks easier?
I'm a firm believer of HTML hand coding, which is unfortunately fast becoming a lost art due to the existence of various what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) programs like PageMill, DreamWeaver and FrontPage.
Aside from being a good stress reliever, there is a sense of fulfillment in writing HTML codes by hand (hence the term "hand coding"). If you're not in a hurry to create, develop and maintain a website and prefer to apply the HTML codes that you learned, I strongly recommend that you use only a text editor like Notepad.
Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against those who use WYSIWYG programs. In fact, I use FrontPage for Bulatlat.com (a website that I maintain) to hasten the uploading of our weekly online news magazine.
Is it true that you teach online publishing? If so, how do you handle it?
Yes, I do teach all stages of online publishing --- web creation, development and maintenance.
I usually handle Journalism 109 (Writing for Popular Audiences) and Journalism 122 (Publication Design and Layout). One of their many requirements is the creation of a website using only Notepad. This website should include a web advertisement and two articles written for my class (in the case of J109), aside from regular sections like About the Site, Site Links, Site Map and Contact Me.
Students are not allowed to use a WYSIWYG program. They are also required to go through other aspects of online publishing like meta tag creation and site promotion through submission to search engines. If it's any consolation, they have the freedom to choose the theme for their site which can range from the serious to the humorous. You may check out their websites now.
My Journalism 107 (Business Reporting) students created a website titled Arao Interactive where they uploaded the answers to three final exam questions. (By the way, I'm not responsible for the website's title. Believe me!)
Some students were enrolled in my J122 class during the previous semester, so there was no need for me to teach them the basics of online publishing. They put a lot of work in this website, and I am impressed by their output which includes, of course, their answers to my final exam questions. They even went out of their way to make me a desktop wallpaper which is available at the website's Gallery section. I am so touched by this gesture.
When I handled Journalism 196 (Seminar on Online Journalism), I also required the entire class to create, develop and maintain a website where they uploaded all the assigned papers. In this case, I allowed them to use FrontPage to expedite the process of creating the template. Despite the use of a WYSIWYG program, I still taught them HTML hand coding at the start.
I made the mistake of letting them think of a title for the class website. That's why it's called Bungang Arao. The Filipino term bungang araw refers to skin eruption caused by prickly heat. However, my student's pun could mean the fruit (English term for bunga) of Arao's work.
To make things worse (depending on where you stand), they even made "pun" of my name in the major sections of the website. They labeled, for example, the photo gallery as lARAOan (instead of larawan or picture) and the profiles page as Anak ARAO (Children of Arao).
Up to now, I have mixed feelings for what my students did. I hate them for "murdering" my name, but I admire them for their creativity. Okay, I admit. I'm PROUD of them.
My graduate (Master of Arts) students in Journalism 216 (Specialized Reporting) created a class website which served as their final exam. Just like my J109 students, they uploaded selected articles submitted in my class. That it is titled Mga Isyu sa Ilalim ng Arao is evident of the freedom they had in conceptualizing the entire website. The title's English translation is "issues under the sun," assuming that Arao is pun for the Filipino term araw.
Despite this subtle way of getting back at me for the many requirements in my class (okay, maybe it's just me...), I am satisfied with what they have done. Feel free to visit this website now.
Isn't online publishing too much for Mass Comm majors?
While most of them are from Mass Comm, there are also students from other colleges/units who take my classes. From my experience, they quickly learn basic HTML in just two sessions. Keep in mind that I teach at UP, where students are presumed to be intelligent and independent.
Of course, take note that Online Publishing is taught in the context of Writing for Popular Audiences and Publication Design and Layout. I think it helps that I encourage the students to consider online users as a target audience for mass communication.
Talking about UP, isn't availability of equipment a problem?
With the national government's low budget allocation for state universities and colleges (SUCs), OF COURSE IT IS! We are normally forced to go to the UP Diliman Learning Resource Center (DLRC) for hands-on HTML handcoding. Just like other users, the DLRC requires my students to pay 15 pesos per hour which is cheaper than commercial rates of 30 to 40 pesos per hour.
An advocate of higher government subsidy to basic services, I personally don't like public school students paying for their education, even if 15 pesos is relatively cheap. This is the reason why I give the whole class the option to either go to DLRC and pay for computer rental or just allow me to teach HTML coding using a whiteboard.
How do your students react to this teaching innovation?
They actually enjoy it, based on unsolicited feedback. The only part they don't like is the strict implementation of an automatic 5.0 (Failure) in the final exam if I find any deadlinks in their website.
Some admit to being initially technophobic, but after my class they become very interested in not just HTML writing but also in learning web programming. I know of a few students who created websites for their respective organizations after "surviving" my class.