Next semester I’m going to be teaching a web dev class. I wanted it to be Advanced Web Devel, but none of the students knows HTML, so I suspect it’ll be Intro To Web Devel.
In the past, I didn’t use a textbook, but last year several students said they would have preferred using tha same sources as everyone else, so this year I started looking for good “intro to html” books. I wasn’t impressed with the results. I originally decided that the O’Reilly HTML book would be best, even though it’s not a tutorial, but more documentation.
Then one day I saw the HTML4 For Dummies book from Wiley Publishing. I’m a fan of the Dummy books, and have been ever since I got Unix for Dummies back in the mid-90’s. I learned a good bit from that book, but most importantly, I laughed and laughed. My favorite line from that book was from a sidebar that referred to their use of the term “mouses” regarding multiple input devices. “Why are they called mouses instead of mice? We don’t know, but a large un-named corporation (whose initials are I B M) decided that it should be that way”.
The HTML book isn’t cheap, so I asked the department chair if there was a budget for teachers books. He told me that teachers generally contact the publishers themselves. This kind of surprised me, but I went hunting. What I found pleased me muchly. The Wiley site has an entire section devoted to teachers. I was a bit concerned that none of the dummy books were listed on the teacher site, but there was a link to find “my representative”. I ran through their little address finder and sent an email off to Frank.
The next business day, I got an email back from Frank asking for some info about the class, and my address. In that message he also said that the book would come to me 5-7 days afetr I supplied that information. I supplied the information on 17 Nov, and today I have the book.
This is impressive to me for several reasons. One is that it was efficient. I just don’t see that in large corporations much anymore. The other is that I don’t think he actually checked with the school. He took my word for it, and sent me a $25.00 book. Maybe they get scammed little enough that it’s not worth fighting it.
My final question is whether it’s rude to require a Dummies book for a class. Would you feel like your teacher thought you were a dummy if he required one for you? Or are they culturally prevalent enough that people won’t give it a second thought?