Building to CSS

The concept of cascading style sheets (CSS) is a powerful one and easy to visualize, but much more difficult to put into practice. Harnessing the power of CSS to design websites is not about creating code at each juncture of the site’s development, like HTML; instead it purports to invest a little planning at the front end of a project. Then, when elements in the design need to change, and inevitably they will, new attributes can easily be applied to the content—globally—instead of one occurrence at a time. To demonstrate this concept, I propose prefacing the CSS project requirement in GGC’s Writing and Digital Media (WDM) course with an exercise using Microsoft Word style sheets.

Serving as content for this task is one of the assigned readings from WDM: Gustav Foray’s “Considering the Rhetoric of Facebook.” In a previous WDM exercise, students were required to edit Foray’s article, keeping in mind the reading habits of an Internet audience, and post the result on his or her blog. Like the previous assignment, students will have an opportunity to edit Foray’s piece so they may learn to “revise their writing for concision, emphasis, and stylistic elegance,” as stated in the course outcomes.

Students will not only be able to strengthen their skills as editors, but also learn document design using the style sheet feature in Microsoft Word. Creating and editing stylistic attributes found in most documents, like headings, subtitles, body paragraphs and hyperlinks, will instruct students in the use of one of the more advanced tools available in Microsoft Word—style sheets and the differences between paragraph and font formatting. In addition to lessons demonstrated from the course instructor, students may access the most up-to-date tutorial directly from Microsoft Office Support.

The ability to master these skills will benefit their careers as students and afford them an additional marketable skill to aid them beyond graduation. No additional software licensing will be necessary because Microsoft Word is widely available for students on any campus computer. Additionally, the College offers multiple way to install Microsoft Office on students’ personal computers.

Two course objectives will be accomplished during this assignment: 1) writing, or rather, editing for a digital environment’s readership; and 2) developing technical skills that will lend to a better understanding of core web technologies, more specifically, the strategies and strengths to successfully utilize CSS.

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~ by lookATLANTA on December 8, 2011.

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