A little background first. At work, they've asked me to teach a short course - two months- on basic webdesing and development. The students will be a mix of designers and artists, so while some of them might have some previous experience with XHTML, HTML and CSS - and, I hope, some basic scripting - I have to assume some of them will be complete beginners.
The idea is that at the end of the course, the students should be able to set up their own website. I don't expect them to be experts in webdesing, but I would like to give them a certain degree of independence, so if they don't know how to do something, they know where to look for direction -google, of course :P- and are comfortable following a tutorial.
My idea is to begin with some basic concepts: HTML, CSS, FTP, etc, and then introduce WordPress as a plataform that will let them create a powerful website. WordPress itself it's rather easy to use, but I'd like to teach them some basic php, so they would feel comfortable editing a theme, setting up some Custom Fields and the like. My idea is to teach them some basic concepts: variables, loops, arrays, etc., so they will be able to see a theme file and undestand what it does, and how to modify it to their needs. At the same time, though, I don't want to focus too much in aspects of the language they won't need, and I'm having difficulty "drawing the line" between what they'll need to know to start, and what they won't need.
With that in mind: what do you think are the basic php knowledge needed to be able to, not only install and run a WordPress blog, but also customize some aspects of it? What are the things you wish you knew when you started with WordPress?
Also, if you have some ideas -or useful links- on teaching the basics of programming, it would be great!
looking forward to hearing from you! :)