January 10, 2010

Web Site Design Lesson Plans

Free lesson plans for high school web site design courses are available at highschoolwebdesign.com. The site contains a complete, 12 week course, including:
  • Projects with step-by-step instructions
  • Rubrics
  • Screenshots
  • Powerpoint presentations

If you teach web site design, check this one out!

October 3, 2009

Business Or Marketing?

There remains a great divide between business teachers and marketing teachers. People not in our field rightfully wonder, what the heck is the difference? Our state's Department of Education recently realized that there was so much overlap between business education and marketing education that they combined these two fields into one license. But it wasn't always that way.

Business Education

The business education license was for what we traditionally think of as vocational education. These teachers taught things like keyboarding, office procedures, accounting, computer applications, and finance.

Marketing Education

Teachers licensed in this area taught marketing & sales, and ran our school stores.

Business and Marketing Education / Career and Technical Education

Within the last five years, Federal legislation changed Vocational Education to Career and Technical Education, and our state combined the business and marketing licenses into Business and Marketing Education. Teachers in this new era teach all of the classes taught above, along with disparate subjects such as: A+ certification, computer programming, sports marketing, and work based learning.

The Divide Remains

Despite the new combined license, the divide between business and marketing educators remains, and I can see this very clearly through the organizations I belong to:

DECA is an organization for marketing students that teaches skills such as: sales demonstrations, marketing plans, business plans, public speaking, and employment interviews.

BPA is an organization for business students that teaches skills such as: financial analysis, web site design, economic analysis, and computer networking.

I've been an advisor for chapters of both organizations. It's like the two groups are from different planets. The BPA people are the geeks and the DECA people are the suits. Geeks complain that the suits don't have any technical knowledge, and suits complain that the geeks don't have any business knowledge.

I see myself more as a business guy than a marketing guy. I find the DECA / Marketing crowd rather annoying, to be honest. I'm interested in making things that work, not in pushing products. However, I see the value in both. The business / marketing divide is a religious war of sorts, both groups talking completely past each other, neither bothering to listen to what the other has to say.

It's like this. If everyone was a Linus Trovalds, we'd have great technology but no one would know about it. If everyone was Steve Ballmer, we'd have a bunch of commercials with nothing to actually sell. What we need are more Joel Spolskys. People who can do both.

September 27, 2009

Starting A Business

Good teachers have experience in their respective fields. Good English teachers have been published; good technology teachers have worked in industry; and good business teachers have run their own businesses.

I ran a business a few years ago when I was in college, selling a product I wrote called Attendance Management System. The software tracked attendance for nonprofits such as churches, scout troops, and other community organizations. The profits weren't gigantic, netting about $130 per month, but it was a fun little endeavor.

I'm in the process of re-introducing the product with plans to roll out an online version later this school year.

Starting a business is not as hard as a lot of people think, and for me, it's more of a hobby than anything else. Coming up with an idea is difficult sometimes, but in my case, I wrote the software in my free time specifically for an organization that I belonged to and only later decided to offer it to other people.

There must be something that you can make or a service that you already provide that others would find useful. When you start a business, you can share it with others and make a little money besides.

September 22, 2009

Swine Flu, Anyone?

Do you think you'll catch the swine flu this year? It's a bit hard to imagine how the virus WON'T spread when you cram over two thousand students with poor sanitary habits into a single building, and they spend six hours with each other in close proximity.

At least one of our staff members has already contracted and recovered from the virus. In the first two weeks of school, a larger than expected number of students are showing flu-like symptoms. The school nurse has a mandate from the state department of health to send home anyone showing these symptoms. Sick students and staff are required to stay home for 24 hours after their fevers break, which usually takes five days.

Some say that these measures are overreactions to an overhyped problem. It's true that the H1N1 virus in its current form is relatively harmless, but it's still smart to take precautions. We might not be able to stop the spread of the virus, but we should do anything we can to at least slow it down
One of the high schools in our state already has 20% of the student population home with flu symptoms, and there are other districts with very high absence rates as well.

My theory is that it's a foregone conclusion that a large population of students and staff will probably contract the virus sometime throughout the year and that we should just accept it. Vaccines should be available in my state around mid-October. Swine flu is a not a reason for panic, but we shouldn't get complacent, either.