Friday, June 15, 2001

George Mindling Column 6-15-2001


Internet Web Page Design Class


Karen Smith's Web page design class at Charlotte High School is unique in Florida. It is one of only two such classes in the entire state.

I had the privilege of addressing one of her classes while participating in the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce school program not long before the end of the school year. It was a learning experience for me. After the initial ice breaking first few minutes, I realized not much has changed since I went to school in Miami many years ago. With the exception of the PCs in the room the room could have been Southwest High in 1959. The students were the same, just dressed differently. They still have the same looks and attitudes as we had. Some were attentive, some dozed off. Some asked questions, some couldn't be bothered with looking up.  The interest picked up when discussing the future of the Internet and making money in Web design or related fields. Everyone listened when we talked about money. There are many resources available, both online or through traditional print media, to look at today's salaries.

Still, $10 an hour sounds like a fortune to a 17-year-old who can't see the $14,000 to $20,000 annual salary that may turn out to be. When talking about corporate IT (Information Technologies) staff salaries available in Atlanta, Tampa or Miami, even in Charlotte County, the eyes seemed to glaze ever so slightly.

Yet most of the students seemed to accept the current technologies as a basis for planning their futures. Those technologies will evolve drastically in the four or five years it now takes to get a bachelor's degree. Dial-up access to the Internet through Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will decrease as access through live “constantly on” broadband or Digital Link Subscriber (DSL) will become the defacto method of connecting to the Internet. Perhaps even wireless methods will dominate. Whatever it is, it won't he what we use today.

The current dip in Palm and other Personal Digital Assistants has the wireless people scurrying to recapture market momentum from last year. The one thing that is certain is change. Planning for the future must be based on goals, not today's hardware or programming.

If attaining those goals requires learning today's hardware and programming languages, those languages must be considered a building block to future skill sets, not the end of the educational stream. Future programming in the consumer, perhaps even the corporate arena, will be probably done "robot" software that simply writes the code you specify. Who writes the "robot" software? Somewhere there will be well-trained people who will make it all happen. They will make more than $10 an hour. Some of them just may come from Karen Smith's Web design class.

Those students bound for college already know their education is the key to their future earning power.  A few of the students seemed to expect money to fall out of the trees.

Maybe they don't teach keypunches anymore, but some things just don't change.

George Mindling © 2001

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