Solving these issues is not straightforward or simple. Universities must maintain the quality of their courses, but at the same time need to rapidly shift to new technologies. There are, however, steps that universities can take to ensure their curricula are more up-to-date than they currently are:
- Collaborate with the business community and alumni. Talk with recent graduates and employers about the latest skills being employed in the field. These conversations will help institutions and faculty identify new techniques and technologies that need to be covered in their courses. Ask recent grads where and how they are learning new skills, including relevant blogs, conferences, and publications. Find out where employers are having trouble finding skilled or qualified employees and be sure to offer courses in those areas.
- Evaluate syllabi annually. Where generic course names are used (such as Web Design 1, 2, and 3), it’s possible to adapt the curriculum for these courses on an annual basis. Revisit curricula frequently, and make sure all instructors are up-to-date with the latest methods.
- Develop centralized teaching resources. Rather than relying on books to provide a course structure, look for resources online instead. Teach students how to evaluate the credibility of any given resource. Create a wiki for sharing these resources that anyone can modify with the latest links and resources so everyone may benefit.
- Bring in more guest speakers. Rather than having the course instructors lecture students every class, bring in more guest speakers with industry experience. This practice will help students understand the real world of web design, where clients affect projects and timelines and where compromises concerning quality, money, and time are made every day.
- Consider bridges to graduate level work. Undergraduates learning web design should know that additional education can take their skills to a new level. Make students aware of post-graduate opportunities. Many schools offer an MBA with an e-commerce or internet marketing concentration. Front-end design students might enjoy obtaining a Master’s or PhD in Human-Computer Interaction. Students might also take a different but related path, working on a Master’s or PhD in Instructional Design. Be sure that courses offered at the undergraduate level prepare students for success at the graduate level.