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Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Cert in IT: website development

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by rgh18, May 20, 2018.

  1. rgh18

    rgh18 New commenter

    I may be teaching this unit next year.

    Does anyone know of example sites that show what pass/merit/distinction projects look like? I've contacted Pearson who tell me there no exemplars available.

    The aspect of this task that I want to investigate, and hear views on, is the use of minimal editors such as Notepad vs a web authoring ide such as Dreamweaver.

    Seems there are two routes one can take. From my most cursory look at Dreamweaver, I think it will generate pretty looking sites with navigation, styling and responsive design, all without the author knowing anything about the underlying core technologies of html, css & js. Indeed, last week, in a discussion with a student who came to me with a question about how to implement a feature that needed javascript, I realized that they didn't know about the basic html tags, despite having designed an entire site in Dreamweaver..

    I'd prefer the class to be developing using Notepad. No doubt the end product web sites will look simple, but all the html tags, css & js code would be understood.

    So, are dead simple looking sites acceptable and are there examples?
  2. elder_cat

    elder_cat Established commenter

    I haven't taught this unit myself, but I delivered a server-side web scripting unit for three years on the trot.

    I imagine they may be reluctant to provide 'exemplars', to avoid any possibility of them being used as the 'basic framework' for a student's work - i.e, the "copy, change ever-so-slightly, and paste" model. The unit spec should give you guidance on the features and functionality they need to address for the PMD criteria.

    IMO, if you have the option of using something like Dreamweaver, then asking your students to produce a complete site using Notepad, is a bit like asking them to reinvent the wheel just for the sake if it. Using something as simple as Notepad, I think the chances of your lower ability students achieving anything beyond a straight pass, would be limited, for the reasons I've outlined below.

    To my mind, that's the whole point of Dreamweaver and other similar packages. The feature-set they make available to the designer, allows them to produce fairly complex animation and actions, without the need to remember hundreds of code snippets and associated syntax, off the top of their head.

    Although IDEs such as Dreamweaver abstract a lot of the underlying complexity, the students still need to design the site and its' associated functionality themselves. Dreamweaver won't do that for them.

    You could use Notepad and get them to work through a workbook, containing stuff like tables, colours, images, links, forms, etc, to produce a 'bog standard' web page. The only issue with that is how long it takes them to do it, and how much of it sinks in.

    Fair enough, I can understand why you might feel that way. But its' the students who have to produce the work, so maybe the choice of IDE should be based on what they would prefer to use?

    I think rudimentary HTML tags would be fairly straightforward for them to get to grips with, using just Notepad. But perhaps producing both valid CSS and JavaScript, using nothing more than plain vanilla Notepad may be a bridge too far for your lower ability students.

    I'd be careful about assuming that things like CSS and JS 'would be understood', simply because the students produced it using Notepad. I suspect in a lot of cases it might be more a case of "Monkey See, Monkey Do".

    You could perhaps use something like Notepad++, which unlike plain old Notepad, has the benefit of auto-completion and syntax highlighting, both of which would be useful for your students. In my experience, students were prone to tantrums and demotivation, when attempting to spot syntax errors in plain vanilla Notepad.

    Given you're dealing with students at BTEC Level 3 (A level equivalent), then you'd need to be able to justify anything beyond a straight Pass, for a 'dead simple looking web site'.

    I think it's important not to confuse 'simple looking', with boring or bland. Take a look at the Bentley Motors website:


    IMO it's a masterpiece of design which is deceptively 'simple'. It's understated and elegant, without having to rely on 'fancy-singy-dancy-in-your-face' animation. But if you then use 'view source', you'll see there's actually a lot going on under the skin.
  3. theworm123

    theworm123 Lead commenter

    What @elder_cat said, personally Dreamweaver I wouldn’t touch with a barge pole. It produces hideous markup which can be barely understandable and therefore removes any educational value.

    BTEC aren’t expecting anything fancy at all, the only people who will see the site are you, the student and a moderator so it doesn’t have to be fancy. Just make use of the newer HTML5 semantic tags and make sure students can meet each criteria and you’ll be fine.
  4. elder_cat

    elder_cat Established commenter

    Yes, that's the biggest nause with Dreamweaver. If memory serves, I think I used it twice, and I never really got on with it. It can create lovely looking pages. But troubleshooting them if something isn't quite right, can be royal pain in the backside. :(

    May be worth looking at the W3C Schools website: https://www.w3schools.com/default.asp

    There is a free online editor (with colour coding) your students can use: https://www.w3schools.com/html/html_editors.asp

    There is also extensive coverage of HTML 5 Semantics: https://www.w3schools.com/html/html5_semantic_elements.asp

    They have similar sections on CSS and Javascript, too.
    theworm123 likes this.
  5. theworm123

    theworm123 Lead commenter

    I’ve used (in terms of teaching) only for the ‘live’ mode at the side, made it very useful to demonstrate hand coding HTML/CSS with JS in a lecture theatre without switching programs and refreshing the browser constantly, only other program with similar functionality is Brackets with Chrome.
    Last edited: May 21, 2018
    elder_cat likes this.
  6. rgh18

    rgh18 New commenter

    Agreed. Even if it was understandable, does creating a site with js, produced in this way, meet the criteria?

    For example, the specification Learning Aim C1 mentions the use of scripting languages to create for example a "rollover". So in DW, it's a matter of Insert>Image>Rollover. So behind the scenes, some hard to read js has been generated, but nothing has been learned other than how to use a particular commercial product.
  7. elder_cat

    elder_cat Established commenter

    Learning aim B: Design a website to meet client requirements

    B1 Website design

    • Client-side scripting design tools and techniques, e.g. pseudo code, flow charts
    (including use of British Computer Society (BCS) standard flow chart symbols) used
    to develop original code.
    • Effective use of ready-made and/or original assets, e.g. a digital animation, digital graphic,
    digital audio and video, or any other combined assets.

    I read this as saying that students are required to understand the theory and practice behind the use of client-side scripting, purely from a design perspective.

    Learning aim C: Develop a website to meet client requirements

    C1 Client-side scripting languages

    • Embedding of original client-side scripts into web pages to provide more interactivity

    Obviously, they need to know how to actually embed the artefact into a web page. But the 'not so clear part', is whether 'original client-side scripts' implies that they are expected to create them from scratch themselves, or simply use something like DW to 'assemble' them from code snippets.

    Unit 4 (Programming) is neither mandatory nor optional, for either the Cert or Extended Cert. I'm not sure we should be expecting them to produce 'original' client-side scripting, given they don't actually do 'Programming' as part of their award?

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