by Karoline Nanfeldt

Month: January 2019

Learning HTML and CSS quickly

Thanks Pixabay for being my favourite source of CC-0 pictures

I feel like the title sounds more like an advert pitch, but in all honesty as we are still before my morning tea, I went with the first title I could think of.

As part of my new role at Heriot-Watt University, I have been asked to provide support on Blackboard courses which have HTML and CSS embedded in them. Having never used either before, I have had to figure out the basics in a few weeks (It has to be said I volunteered very quickly to take on learning this).

Maybe there are other people out there who could benefit from hearing about the resources I have used to at least get comfortable enough to do a bit. I know lots of people are interested in coding, but it can be a bit daunting to figure out how to start.

I started out with these really helpful videos from Jake Wright on both HTML and CSS;

These two videos provided the perfect understanding of the structure for each language. It also gave enough basics that I could write small, simple snippets of code. I would recommend signposting people to these videos before attempting anything else. They are a real gem.

Next up, I needed to build on my understanding by adding more complex pieces of code. As I am (at first) planning to use these skills in our virtual learning environment, I did not want to use resources intended for people to develop whole websites, as that is not relevant for what I will be doing.

Having sat next to the person who championed the use of, I was really happy to discover HWU also subscribes to LinkedIn Learning. They are essentially the same service, as the content originates from Lynda. I think there are many members of staff who do not realise how many courses you can access. As much as the internet can teach you everything for free, I like the structured nature of following courses.

My two initial courses were HTML for Educators and CSS Essential Training 1. (LinkedIn learning does not allow you to easily share content outside, so my apologies for the weird embeds)

Welcome from HTML for Educators by Chris Mattia

Welcome from CSS Essential Training 1 by Christina Truong

I hope you find at least some of these videos useful. Next step is to actually put what I have learned into proper practice. I have enjoyed dappling in programming languages again, so I am currently thinking of further personal projects where I can really put it to good use and learn more advanced techniques. Please let me know if you have any tips or tricks, other valuable resources, or any ideas on how I can learn more. Next big step would be to understand the basics of JavaScript.

Blog about being the most read blogpost

A picture of balloons saying "PPLS 2018" in a big room with windows.
Picture from when the graduation party hosted by my school after I graduated

It feels a bit meta to blog about blogging, yet here it is.

In 2017, I wrote a blogpost for the University of Edinburgh’s blog on teaching (fittingly called Teaching Matters) on what research says about attendance when lectures are recorded.

The post was the most read blogpost on the blog in 2018. This blogpost was written as it was a very commonly asked question by academics whenever lecture recording came up, and clearly it is still relevant.

Having now graduated university and no longer being a student intern (or really a poster child anymore, no one at Heriot-Watt has ever seen the infamous poster all over UoE campus) I stand by what I say more than ever. I actually attended most of my lectures, but I did have a lot of stuff going on besides my studies.

If I had not spent a lot of my time on extracurriculars, I would have never ended up working in learning technology and found an area so well-suited to me. My CV may still only have consisted of a degree and not much else, and I am so grateful I took advantage of just a few of the opportunities studying at UoE offered me. Shockingly, it has turned out that a degree teaches you a lot more than just subject-specific content – it teaches you lots of things from how to learn things quickly, to balance your time to meet as many deadlines as possible, working under pressure, working on things that does not interest you, meeting new people, and the list goes on.

If I missed a lecture here or there, it clearly was not detrimental to me or many of my friends who sometimes did the same. Be there for students to come to you with your concerns, but also accept we need to learn from our own mistakes.

We will usually turn out okay, I promise.

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