Lights connecting through electric boards
HTML/CSS,  Instructional Design

Building Connections using HTML and CSS

In my last blog post, I wrote about my experience learning HTML and CSS through a self-directed study. When first tasked with this project I thought about what would be most helpful for me to try to learn and I went through many options. My original thought was focusing on Articulate or Storyline which I have very little experience with. However, after some advice, it seemed that HTML and CSS would be most helpful. I did not want to learn HTML and CSS because it scared me, it seemed like an impossible topic to take on. I kept putting it on the back burner and trying to think of anything else that would get me out of learning that topic. Once I committed to the idea and wrote out my plan it was easier to visualize how I would take action on my self directed study. I portioned my original idea of creating a whole theme to just making edits on the theme I chose for my website. I then aligned one lesson/edit per week with my blog post which made it effortless to stay on track and complete what I intended. If  I had not given myself strict guidelines I know I would have fallen behind and been playing catch up at the end of the study. 

Since I had figured out the time management piece it was then necessary to look at what my weekly items would be. How was I going to add or edit one thing a week on my theme when I have never coded before? I would like to say I came up with all my ideas at the beginning but each week is when a thought would come to me. The first week we had just completed our first digital story and mine was about how I came to find the path of instructional design. It was a nice addition to my about me page and I was able to embed it with HTML and center it on the page. This, I was able to do with research and the code view on the edit page routine. Using HTML I was also able to add a Google Slides presentation to my portfolio page.

The second edit was brought up as part of our peer reviews. My blog post feature images were huge and dominated the page. You would have to scroll for a while to see the title. I was able to change this using CSS and help from my husband after much research. I also wanted to fix my navigation menu to the page but because it was in the center of the page it would have required javascript as well. I did not feel it would have been worth all the hassle and time of learning something new so I opted to affix the menu to the top of the screen instead. Now when you scroll you can always see the menu to click to other pages. 

At the end of this whole process, I was feeling successful but also disappointed. Every time I did add or edit something it felt good but looking back it was extremely simple. I felt like anyone could do it and that I did not actually complete what I set out to do. Then when I wrote about everything I knew that I had found the answer online already so I was just repeating what I found. What change did I actually make? With some research, anyone could do what I had just done. 

Then I received some comments and peers in my class were finding my information helpful, not because they were also doing an HTML/CSS self-directed study but because they also wanted to change things on their themes. That is when I realized I may not be making a difference in the big overall picture but it was helpful to someone, not just me. 

The other realization I had was during our last synchronous session on Zoom. Each of my peers has struggled, the professional development topic they chose did not go as planned because we are all just learning. Everyone struggled at some point and it was not that it made me feel better to hear that but the fact that we were all learning and changing together. I learned something from every single person in this course and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and working with them all. I tend to be shy and hold back and although I may not have the close connection I want I do have a personal learning network that has expanded greatly this semester. 

I still have a long way to go with my website and I am sure in the future I will spend more time researching and experimenting with HTML and CSS code. But for now, the one thing that scared me the most is something I now understand a bit. I am not afraid anymore and I know that I will have more resources going forward. I look forward to keeping these connections with my peers and seeing the great things that they accomplish. Because in this journey its not just about making it to the end but about learning to work together and support each other. We spend a lot of time competing against each other and criticizing what others do but in this course, we grew a bond and helped each other and continue to help each other. My last conversation in the synchronous session ended with one of my peers saying they would send me any job posting they thought might interest me. At that moment I realized that we are all in this together and we can lean on each item and help each other rise to success. Even if we are maybe both applying for the same job I would want any of my peers to get the job before me because they are all truly amazing. 

When going through the peer reviews in this course it was apparent how skillful everyone is but each person has their niche where they feel most comfortable. I do not know if I will ever get there but if I can at least make the changes I want with HTML and CSS then that is good enough for me. However, even if I can be as comfortable talking about it as my professor, Rebecca Hogue, I think that would also be great. I am a teacher at heart and I would love to be able to walk someone through using HTML/CSS to solve their website issue. This will come with time and more practice of course. 

I have no idea what is in store for me in my instructional design journey but this self-directed study has opened up a world of possibilities and I am forever grateful for this course and the connections I have made. 

Good luck to all my peers and please keep in touch. It has been a great summer!

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