I really, really enjoyed seeing Web design education take the spotlight in Issue No. 276 of A List Apart. It’s a topic that I feel strongly about and one that doesn’t get nearly enough attention from those of us working in the industry. While I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the authors of both articles, I was particularly moved by Leslie Inman’s grass roots call to action in “Elevate Web Design at the University Level“.
When you drive, bike, or scooter to work each morning, do you pass a university? If so, contact the web educator at the university and see what you can do to help connect the school to you, your company, and your professional organizations. Does the educator need/want a guest lecturer to come to class and speak on your area of expertise? Yes, you are an expert on something and you should share your expertise with educators and their students.
Exactly 7 days before that article was published, I was faced with just such an opportunity. I received a message via the Refresh Columbia contact form from a Computer Science instructor at the University of South Carolina. He wanted to know if we could recommend an online video on the basics of web design or if anyone from Refresh would like to come give a presentation. I quickly responded that I’d love to come talk to his class and I’ll be presenting over there at 9am on Wednesday. I’ve only had the opportunity to speak to college-level students once before, but I’m already making plans to speak to another class in the Media Arts department later this semester.
I’m not announcing this because I want any kind of recognition; I simply hope that more web professionals will volunteer some time to do the same. If you’re working in the industry, you are an expert on something. You don’t have to be a book author to get out there and share something useful. I’m also not putting this out here as a guilt trip. For me, speaking to other people who are passionate about the web (especially students) is fun and exciting. If you’re the type of person who can’t handle public speaking, then maybe it’s not for you. As an introverted person, I would have put myself in that category a couple years ago, but the more public speaking I do, the more I enjoy it. So give it a whirl sometime. Maybe start by presenting to people you know at a local Barcamp or Refresh group. I’m betting that you’ll want to do it again.