Overview & Outcomes

Creating Online Media: an Overview

Comm 310 is primarily a front-end web design class. We learn basic web standards principles, HTML, CSS and PHP. Search engine optimization (SEO) is covered to the extent that standards-based code facilitates SEO. Design and usability principles are expected (see pre-requisite courses), but not covered outright.

The Web may never totally replace other media, but definitely has the potential to reach more people, update more rapidly, and remain relatively much less expensive to use than any other mass communication medium. Because of this, it has quickly become the medium of all media. This class is specifically designed to help communication students prepare for careers that increasingly demand web-media savvy. The purpose of this course should be clear from its title. Students will become creators of online media.

Course Outcomes

Students will demonstrate understanding of standards-based web development using HTML and CSS by creating their own websites. They will demonstrate facility with web-creation software tools by creating web graphics and managing live sites. They will demonstrate how SEO and usability issues must be considered by incorporating them into course projects. They will demonstrate how to use basic PHP to make their sites/pages dynamic and modular.

Course Materials

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Textbook:HTML Dog by Patick GriffithsHTML and CSS tutorials, references, and articles

I recommend you find a used copy of this text. It is a great reference book for beginning HTML and CSS. Note that it is recommended and not required.

Although some information in this text is outdated, it is still a great resource/reference book for learning HTML and CSS. It was written at a point in web design history when XHTML ruled and web standards were in the perfect place to maximize both innovation and uniformity. We will not be learning XHTML. We will be learning HTML5, which is so new that it is not even fully adopted yet. Its beauty is that it embraces both the past standards of pre-radical-XHTML and the dynamic/innovative tomorrow of mobile/app-based who-knows-what-the-Web-will-one-day-become internet.

Digital Storage:

You may store files on the computers in the classroom as a backup, but be aware that those drives may be purged at any time during the semester. Therefore, you will need a place to keep your work besides the class computer hard drives. Storing work on laptops and thumb drives is a good option. But they can crash or get lost. I encourage you to always save your work in more than one place. You might consider signing up for a free 2 gig account at DropBox. If you use this link, you will earn 500mB of additional (free) storage space. You could also use your web host as a place to back up your work.

Domain Name & Web Host:

You will be required to purchase a domain name and web hosting service. You will use the domain name and web host for all projects. If you already have a domain name & hosting service, you may use them for this course. You may use any hosting service you wish as long as pages are free from ads and as long as the host supports PHP. I strongly encourage Linux-based hosting since we will be using PHP.

There are many hosting companies. Each has unique strengths and weakness. You should research many options and compare their services. In the past, students who signed up with iPage have asked me to warn my future students to avoid iPage hosting. I'm sure iPage isn't the only one to avoid. You'll want to research and read independent reviews to help you choose. I strongly advise you to steer clear of every very cheap or free option. In most cases, you get what you pay for. Students who get it cheap now, regret it when their stress level is high and their grade is on the line at the end of the semester.

Purchasing a domain name typically costs about $10/year on average. Frequently you can get free domain registration for a year if you purchase hosting from the same company. Basic web hosting costs between $4–$10/month. Most web hosts offer discounts for the first year.

A former student of mine, Andy Bell, recently looked into web hosts that offer discounts for University students. He created this document to discuss his findings.

Learning Model

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What Learners and Teachers Do in Comm 310

Exercise Faith:

No matter where you are in your current understanding, remember that you took this course to get to a new place. Hopefully, getting to this new place will require climbing to higher ground. Climbing is not an easy thing to do. Even though there are "shortcut" ways to create online media, you must remember that there are no shortcuts to any place worth going. You may need to step out into the darkness, into territory that is unfamiliar and difficult. You may even need to rely on a higher power after exhausting your best efforts. That's why true learning is truly an exercise in faith. If you act in faith, you will receive the help you need.

Learn from the Holy Ghost:

Live worthy of the Holy Ghost. He will comfort you and guide your learning. He will help deepen and solidify your understanding. Pray for Him to be in our classroom to help us all learn and teach above and beyond our own abilities. For deep learning to occur, the Holy Ghost must be the teacher.

Lay hold upon the word of God:

The restored gospel of Jesus Christ will enliven your understanding of course material. Even though this is not a religion course and the scriptures are not the textbook, I would encourage you to learn wisdom out of the best books.

Elder Ballard's message given at a BYU-I and BYU-Hawaii graduation are obvious examples with direct spiritual application to our course. And there are many other more recent talks that inspire and guide me in creating online media. As you search the words of ancient and living servants of the Lord, your learning will be enhanced.

Act for themselves:

Since you will grow mostly according to our own effort and discipline, you are responsible to contribute thoughtfully to class and to ask pertinent questions, to attend class consistently, to arrive punctually and to come well prepared. If you miss class, you are responsible for information covered in your absence. In order to encourage you to act as agents unto yourselves, I want you to avoid using pre-built templates, easy-bake web tools, and copying and pasting code that someone else wrote. It's alright to look at code for learning purposes, but on your projects I want you to understand, not just 'jump through the hoops.'

Love, serve, and teach one another:

I encourage you to find ways to move out of the self-serving, competitive learning style so prevalent in our culture. Being involved in class, knowing the names of your classmates, and teaching others the things that you are learning will deepen and enhance your learning.

Learning Model Architecture

I plan to follow the pattern of prepare ⇒ teach one another ⇒ ponder/prove in our class. You should consider out-of-class assignments as one preparation for in-class "teach one another" activities. Tweeting with the hashtag #com310 is another great way to teach and share with one another. Projects, class discussions, tests and quizzes will be important opportunities to "ponder and prove" what you are learning.


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Grade Definitions

A — represents outstanding understanding, application, and integration of subject material & extensive evidence of original thinking, skillful use of concepts, and ability to analyze and solve complex problems. Demonstrates diligent application of Learning Model principles including initiative in serving other students.

B — represents considerable/significant understanding, application, and incorporation of the material which would prepare a student to be successful in next level courses, graduate school, or employment. The student participates in the Learning Model as applied in the course.

C — represents sufficient understanding of subject matter. The student demonstrates minimal initiative to be prepared for class. Sequenced courses could be attempted, but mastering new materials might prove challenging. The student participates only marginally in the Learning Model.

D — represents poor performance and initiative to learn and understand and apply course materials. Retaking a course or remediation may be necessary to prepare for additional instruction in this subject matter.

F — represents failure in the course.

Performance & Participation Weighting

Earning an excellent grade should be the result of completing course requirements in an excellent way. Seventy five percent of your grade will be be based on your performance in creating online media. Your effort and participation will account for the other 25% of your grade.

Performance Preparation & Participation
projects & critiques 60% classroom etiquette, practice/diligence/preparation outside of class, dress & honor code adherence, assignment completion & punctuality, involvement in class, completion of exercises, questions, attitude, growth, tweeting #com310, teaching & serving one another 30%
tests & quizzes 10%


You are responsible for class attendance. No absences, whether approved by the University or necessitated by sickness or other personal emergencies, are “excused” in the sense that you are relieved from class work assigned during the absence. In most cases, repeated absences will result in a lower grade or failure. To obtain the maximum benefit from this class, you need to attend. Missing class means missing things that you cannot learn from a textbook alone and depriving us of learning from you. I will take roll each day and ask that you keep track of your own absences as well. I know life happens outside of class—things that are out of your control. I also understand that there are times when students must choose to sacrifice their grade for the sake of things that are more important than a grade. I will excuse two absences—for whatever reason you miss. If you get sick, go on a school-excused field trip or just want to be lazy—I will excuse a total of two absences. Every absence after the two excused absences will result in an automatic 1% final grade deduction. In the same vein, arriving late and leaving early is disruptive, and will be counted as a 1/2 absence. Every 1/2 absence after the two excused absences will result in an automatic .5% final grade deduction. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, nine or more total absences will result in a failing grade.

Consequences for missing class

  • Missed information, instruction, activities, announcements, handouts, quizzes, etc.
  • Late assignments/projects
  • Final Grade deduction: .5% deduction for every half absence (after 2 excused), and 9 or more will result in failure in the course

Brother's Keepers

You are responsible for all information covered in your absence. In the first weeks of class, I suggest you get the contact information of several people in class who agree to be "brothers' keepers," to make note of and take notes for you when absent. You do the same for them when they are absent. This is a hard class to miss, and I won't be able to re-create class for students who are absent.

Agency & Accountability

If you are absent because of circumstances beyond your control be sure to ask to make up quizzes and ask for exceptions to late assignment/project policies.

If you know you are going to be absent in advance, make arrangements to take quizzes and hand in work beforehand.

If are absent because you chose (to not set or wake up to your alarm, to go to a wedding or homecoming or farewell, to take a day off, to forget your schedule, to work, to schedule a doctor's appointment, to do homework, etc), do not ask to make up quizzes or for exceptions to late assignment/project policies.

Late / Leaving Early Policy Summary

  • late = not on time; if class starts at 9am, any time after 9am is late.
  • late = ½ absence, missed quiz, late project
  • late project = 20% deduction.
  • leaving early = ½ absence.
  • late assignments will receive no credit

Projects & Critiques (60%)

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Details will be forthcoming

Project 1: Restaurant Home, Menu & Mockup


  1. Markup content templates for index and menu pages provided, with semantic HTML.
  2. Well organized and correctly named files.
  3. Replace generic content with your own content.
  4. You must use all or part of your client's name in the restaurant name.
  5. Choose a genre of food. This must be a meal restaurant, not a dessert restaurant.
  6. Create an original 32px X 32px favicon, include the image and link.
  7. Nav with one working link from index to menu page and one working link from menu to index page. Set the href attribute value of other nav items to '#'
  8. Find or take five hunger-inducing food photos and add headings and descriptions. Well written, original descriptions that are clever and mouth-watering will be rewarded.
  9. Three asides with well-written copy and/or image. You decide what these asides contain. Don't make them lame.
  10. Make a mockup design of how you would want your site to look, and submit as goal.jpg
  11. Footer. Link to goal.jpg. Cite sources of photos, etc.
  12. No javascript allowed
  13. No CSS required or allowed.
  14. Social media links

Before you submit

  1. Be sure that all your files are in yourdomain/310/p1
  2. All image files, including favicon, food images and goal.jpg should be in an images folder.

Submitting It

  1. Upload (FTP) your project to:

Project 2: Restaurant Final


  1. Two HTML pages:
    • pages must link to each other but NOT to themselves
    • "nice" lint-free html, that is semantic & follows 'never' and 'always' guidelines
    • customized/personalized content with no spelling errors
    • index
      1. all requirements for index page from P1 still apply
      2. make improvements to html based on instructor feedback
    • menu
      1. Menu must have at least two parts (i.e., lunch and dinner, or appetizers and main entrees, etc) with a minimum of 24 menu items between the two parts.
      2. Menu items must include the name of the dish, a description of the dish, and a price. Use "How to Write Persuasive Advertising for Food" in your names and descriptions.
  2. One (and only one) external CSS page
    • to style both the index and the menu based on chosen template
    • do not use inline or embedded styles
  3. Custom Logo with text (include part or all of Client's name)
  4. CSS3 slideshow on home page with large appetizing food photos
  5. Submit
    • Before the start of class on due date. (see BrainHoney / Email for date)
    • We will be presenting projects in class that day
    • Pages must be live at yourdomain/310/p2/
    • Email and/or BrainHoney submissions will not be accepted.

Your grade will be based on:

  1. Meeting the above requirements
  2. Following & customizing your design inspiration
    • Comm130 principles (alignment, proximity, contrast, repetition, typography, color)
    • Customized graphics
    • Design reflective of professional, high-class/fine dining establishments
    • Attention to detail
  3. Making your audience hungry

Project 3: CSSZen Garden

Create a style for the csszengarden site based on the color, time period and random word you ended up with. Use my updated P3 Source Files that incorporate HTML5 & PHP. You are not allowed to change the index.php page. You may only add data to the data file and create a stylesheet. I will be grading this project on usability, design principles, coolness, creativity and how well you are able to convey the style indicated by site title. The project must be live at "http://yourdomain/310/p3/" by the due date.

Tests & Quizzes (10%)

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There will be a midterm and final test given in class. These will be hands-on application tests, intended to assess your understanding in a realistic situation. There will also be five in-class quizzes as indicated on the class schedule. Others may be given spontaneously as needed. Discussions, exercises and handouts will be the primary source of quiz material.

Preparation & Participation (30%)

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Students who wish to earn full credit in this area should:

  1. 1. Come to class prepared to share thoughtful questions & insights, having completed all reading and other assignments before class (note that late assignments will not receive any credit)
  2. 2. Invest significant time outside of class sharing what they are learning as well as practicing and applying it—the rule of thumb for a college course is two hours outside of class for every one hour inside of class—
  3. 3. Record their learning in an effective way for future reference and learning/teaching opportunities;
  4. 4. Shoulder their fair share of the class discussion, and listen respectfully to others;
  5. 5. Invite, through their thoughts, prayers, words and actions, the Holy Ghost to be their teacher.