All posts by tborzecki

Calendars – Fall 2016

The web design and development students build an HTML-based calendar website, after about 4 weeks of lessons in the program .

As an ongoing tradition, this calendar involves writing relatively simple HTML code, however it is a great opportunity for the students to test out some CSS techniques, including some of the most cutting-edge CSS 3/4 code that is currently supported. It also allows them the freedom to take the design in whatever direction they choose.

The following are calendars from this semester, and it is always interesting to see the variety of styles and ideas that result from this sort of assignment.

Becky Calendar
Becky’s retro computer terminal themed calendar featured some impressive animations, and even sound. It faithfully re-creates the experience of using a monochromatic character display.
Denise Chan's calendar
Denise chose to showcase her own photography as a major component of her full year calendar. It looks like it would make an excellent printed calendar as well.
Carmelina's calendar
Carmelina created a calendar that had all the months of the year appear as an animated nav bar. Her photo from Nepal would flip around, revealing individual month links.
Eunji's Calendar
Eunji created a colourful season-themed calendar that featured animations and careful use of typography. It will eventually include the ability to record plans for the month.
Sacha's Calendar
Sasha’s love for Chelsea FC shows in his purpose-driven calendar that includes the entire schedule of the season for Chelsea.

Overall, this year’s group of students are already impressing me with their abilities and enthusiasm. I am really excited to see how their skills progress over the course of the semester.

Composite Two – Summer 2016

Web Composite 2 is our big group project in the WDDM program. Every semester, groups of 3-4 students spend two weeks in class designing and building web-applications. The web applications are to meet a set of requirements, but otherwise are fairly open-ended. Students are able to apply their ideas to a real-world scenario, having to consider their target demographic as well as actual time constraints.

The composite 2 groups finishing up their tough work.
The composite 2 groups finishing up their tough work as their respective web applications look more and more polished.

This big assignment combines all the knowledge that was covered in the previous courses. Completing a web application in such as short timeframe can be a daunting task, but at the same time is an important learning experience.

Ali finishing up some coding
Ali finishes up some PHP code towards the end of the assignment. As the two week in-class project comes to an end successfully.
"Adaptation" web app and group members.
Stephanie, Kathleen and Mustafa proudly display their creation the “Adaptation” web app.
The Ath-Elites web application group.
The Ath-Elites web application displayed by enthusiastic group members: Sabrina, Ali, Zach and Wayne.

This year’s web applications were titled “Ath-Elites” and “Adaptation”.

Adaptation is an application developed by group members: Stephanie, Kathleen and Mustafa. It is a web application that allows users to register and take part in discussions regarding movies that are based on books. With this particular niche in mind, the group effectively completed this system essentially from scratch, tapping into online data sources as well as accepting content from users.

Ath-Elites is a web application that caters to post-secondary-level athletes, who need to train. It is an application developed by Sabrina, Ali, Zach and Wayne that suggests exercises, complete with videos based on a user’s training needs.

In the applications, MySQL databases were used to store data, and most of the functionality was written using the PHP language. In addition, the web apps are designed to be responsive, meaning they work equally well on mobile devices as they do on desktop computers.

Another important part of the finished assignment is the documentation package that group members are tasked with putting together. The planning stage is a crucial one and students were able to capture the reasoning that led to the development of their application.

Over all, this semester’s assignments were produced to a high standard of quality and the group dynamics worked out well.  Each group had a good sense of what they needed to accomplish, and managed to stay on course through the two weeks.

The end result of this project is the group presentation, which this semester’s groups delivered effectively.  It is often an overlooked part of the project, but being able to describe your ideas verbally and in a concise manner is extremely important in this industry. Employers and clients alike rely on web designers and developers to explain the technology and results of their work, and this assignment helps prepare students to do exactly that.

Composite 2 Project documentation
Each team is required to create a detailed documentation package that describes their design process as well as technical details for their application.

Nostalgic Web Campaign

A new addition to the assignment roster for the program is the Nostalgic Web Campaign. Students are required to create a complete web marketing campaign, including a website, email newsletter, banner ads and a trailer. The twist of this project is that it has to be on a topic that predates the web, which poses an interesting design challenge.

This semester’s assignments are still being submitted, but you can see a small sample of the work above.

Vector Face Drawings

Every semester Mark tasks the web students with creating a vector drawing from a photo of themselves. Students gain quite a bit of practice with some of the tools within Illustrator. This is a small sample of the work created this semester and I think they turned out great!

HTML Calendar Assignment

One of the first assignments in the program is the creation of an HTML5 table based calendar. The point of this assignment is to practice working with HTML markup, but also to get familiar with some CSS code. These are some of the calendars that the current class has created.

Composite One Preparation

Students hard at work finalizing their Composite One websites
Students hard at work finalizing their Composite One websites

The first major assignment within our program occurs after the first month of regular lessons. Students are given a week to fully mock up and build a functional small-scale HTML and CSS based website. This assignment is geared to simulate a workplace environment with strict deadlines, and more realistic expectations.

The students are currently hard at work finalizing their websites for the presentations they will be delivering later today. I can already see some great work in development, and am excited to see the final results later on today.

Shortly after lunch we will begin our presentations, each student is to deliver a short presentation to simulate a client pitch.   Given that this is the first website that many of the students have ever built, it is an exciting time for everyone, and an excellent accelerated-learning experience.

New Computers in the Lab

WDDM Web Lab iMacs
The WDDM Lab’s new iMacs; Huge and shiny! Photo courtesy of Mark-Anthony Karam.

This semester was the first time the Web Design, Development and Maintenance program switched to a Mac-only lab.  Our old Windows PCs have been replaced with shiny new iMacs— quite an improvement in my humble opinion.

Our dedicated lab seems to have gotten bigger as those powerful, but huge PCs were taking up far too much room.   This is a great sign for the semester.  I’m hoping this upgrade will help our students produce some more amazing work quickly and more efficiently!