152 million is the latest estimate for how many blogs are on the internet, while 77% of all Internet users read blogs. That’s a big audience, a lot of content, and a lot of bloggers creating it.
So do you think that every one of those 152 million bloggers know how their blog works?
Do you think they know how to create a form on their blog, edit CSS and optimise their website for search engines to better find it?
…No, we don’t think they know either.
Blogging: As easy as 1, 2, 3
In the last few years, setting up your own website or blog has become as easy as a left click. Thanks to WordPress and Blogger, millions of creators are getting their content online blithely unaware of the engines of HTML and CSS churning behind the scenes.
Content Development Manager at ECDL Hellas Anastasia Gavana warns that this lack of knowledge has consequences. Bloggers don’t know how vulnerable their site is to hackers, for example.
Anastasia was involved in the development of the ECDL Foundation’s Web Editing module, and confirms this knowledge gap was “pretty much an outcome of today’s ease of using the Internet”:
“The ease of some applications for creating your own website online, combined with a lack of knowledge, makes it quite hard to grasp the dangers and security risks that may be lurking in the Internet.”
The Web Editing module aims to address this problem.
A module is born
It was around 2005 when ECDL Foundation’s expert group for module development witnessed a rising demand from candidates to learn a certain set of skills. Anastasia explains:
“There was a growing need for even novice/common computer users to have basic web editing knowledge to understand the basics of web editing, as well as be able to create a personal web page.”
The web was also becoming a more accessible place for setting up and maintaining a website for those without programming knowledge. This was down to new tools popping up, Anastasia says:
“Given the amount of online and desktop tools available, with user friendly and word-processing like tools, a common computer user could create a web site for recreational purposes. Users around the world started to want to be able to design their own personal and/or recreational web page.”
The first version of the module was released in 2006 under the name 'WebStarter'. When released, it met the demand for these computer users, and grew in popularity until it was revised and released as the 'Web Editing' module in 2009.
The demand has been influenced by trends in the job market too, because even if you’re not setting up and running your own website, web editing skills are increasingly important for jobs. This is proving especially true for entry-level positions.
Web Editing in the workplace
As 2013’s university students were about to graduate last May, Mashable posted this much-shared article listing 10 Digital Skills that graduates must not leave college without. On the list were: HTML, basic coding, setting up a website, and registering a domain.
It’s not really a surprise that such skills are expected of graduates these days, but perhaps it is a surprise that they needed to be spelled out in a list.
2013’s graduates are digital natives after all – they grew up with technology as part of the landscape – surely they don’t need to be told how the online world works?
Well… no, actually. “Knowledge does not necessarily come with being online”warnsAnastasia:
“On the contrary, given that many people have easier access to online services and utilities, users may be quite unaware of how the internet really works and what it is. The need for training and gaining skills and knowledge in order to be able to utilise the internet to its fullest potential to meet their needs and improve their productivity is larger than before.”
The Web Editing module
The module itself teaches key web concepts, the basic principles of HTML, the use of the/a web authoring application and how to create forms in a web page.
Arguably one of the most useful topics in the module is cascading style sheets (CSS). Marketing expert Susan Gunelius who set up the award-winning blog, Women on Business, says there are many good reasons bloggers should learn CSS:
“Bloggers who take the time to learn HTML and CSS can easily take their blog to the next level with little to no monetary investment.”
If you have any doubt of the power of CSS for websites, have a browse through CSS Zen Garden, an incredible display of the potential of CSS to transform content.
One of the most interesting additions to the module content is copyright. The truth is that ownership of content is not really something a regular blogger pays much attention to, says Anastasia:
“There are national and international laws on copyright, and even if you are unaware of the law this does not mean that you should break it.”
It’s a lesson that The Content Factory learned the hard way, as you can read in their blog post; The $8,000 Mistake That All Bloggers Should Beware. Their conclusion was: “If you use copyrighted images, you will get caught sooner or later.”
Turns out, blogging isn’t quite as easy as a left-click after all.
For bloggers, graduates, or anyone who wants to know more about the HTML and CSS churning beneath their online experience, clicking into ECDL’s Web Editing module, could be just the ticket.