Earlier this week I gave a series of lectures and labs at the University of Colorado, Boulder on how to use Microsoft Expression Web. The audience was business students who were enrolled in a required Information Technology course, and one of their projects required them to create a personal web site that they might be able to use when looking for a job or an Internship. This was a valuable opportunity for me to test Expression on a larger audience. Here is what I observed:
- DreamSpark is not a reliable method of software distribution for a required class project.
- There are too many potential failure points in the process. Most I encountered were the result of students not reading the instructions carefully
- Students need to burn a DVD from an .iso file. While there is free software available from Daemon Tools that will convert the .iso file to a bootable DVD, this adds another level of complexity to the process
- The professor should have used the department's MSDNAA subscription to distribute Expression via the hosted service through ELMS
- Would have eliminated a somewhat lengthy verification process for each student
- Would NOT have eliminated the requirement for students to burn their own .iso files, unless the professor was willing to burn 400 DVDs to distribute
- The process for hosting each student's web site should have been verified and made part of the project. While most universities that I have worked with will provide a web account for students, this is one part that I as an outsider could not do (and teach) since I do not have an account at the university. I tried to contact the College of Business IT staff, but they had no idea if or how web hosting on campus was done. To grade the projects, students had to show their TAs the files on a computer rather than just e-mailing a web link
- A single one-hour class demo was insufficient instruction. To remediate this problem, I created two instructional videos using Camtasia and posted them on this blog under the Student Resources link that provided step-by-step screen captures of how to complete the project. Note: Camtasio Studio 5.0 is a FABULOUS tool for creating instructional videos for distance learning or Blackboard course supplements.