A Review of Web Design Education in the UK
‘A review of web design education in the UK’ is a collaboration between the Institute of Communications Studies at the University of Leeds and the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium)’s Web Education Community Group. The research aims to review the state of undergraduate web design education in the UK and to explore the extent to which web standards and web accessibility, two core aspects of professional web design and front-end development, are embedded in web design curricula. The project is led by Dr Helen Kennedy of ICS and Chris Mills of W3C (and also of Opera).
What is the research about?
The research will focus on undergraduate programmes in the UK which are related to web design. Because this is a pilot study with only limited resources, it is not possible to investigate other types of courses, at other levels, in other geographical locations. Research will be carried out using UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service in the UK) and university websites, as well as building on the existing knowledge of the research team. Searches will be carried out on the websites of the UK’s 122 universities, but due to limited resources, the additional 146 university colleges, colleges of higher education, and further education colleges offering undergraduate degree courses will only be considered if their courses appear in the results of UCAS searches.
What will we research?
We will ask these questions of the courses we find:
- Does the programme cover web standards and web accessibility?
- On which modules are web standards & web accessibility covered?
- What resources (books, websites etc which students are expected to consult) are used?
- Is the Interact Curriculum used? Is it recommended to students?
- To what extent are issues of standards and accessibility central to the curriculum?
- To what extent and how do practising web designers/developers get involved in the delivery of the programme?
- Are examples of student web design work available to review online. If so, does it demonstrate student understanding of web standards and web accessibility?
- If standards and accessibility are not currently central to the programme, would programme leaders be interested in support in integrating these elements?
In our analysis of examples of student work, which will examine the extent to which standards and accessibility knowledge have been applied, we will use criteria which can be accessed by downloading our site analysis criteria document.
What will we do with the data we gather?
Data about all relevant courses that we find will be input into a database. This information will not be made public, as the intention of this research is not to publicise those programmes which do not integrate web standards and web accessibility into their teaching, but rather to improve web design education. The database produced through this research is intended to help the W3C to meet its aim of improving the quality of available web education resources and courses. The database will enable the W3C to prioritise the institutions they need to target through their outreach work, to encourage and facilitate their adoption of standards-compliant curricula.
Who will carry out the research?
The research will be undertaken in June and July 2012. Courses identified and included in the database will be followed up at yearly intervals for five years (resources permitting), to identify and assess changes in curricula. The research will be led by Dr Helen Kennedy of ICS and Chris Mills of the W3C Web Education Community Group, and carried out by two ICS BA Hons New Media students, Angelie Stephens and Oliver Ash.
If you have any suggestions of programmes we should look at, comments about programmes you have studied (including when you studied) or any other suggestions or observations about this research, please make them in the comments section below.