Class Offers Students Web Development Skills

Michael Armstrong (left) and Colton Morris learn about Web development at Gila Community College.


Michael Armstrong (left) and Colton Morris learn about Web development at Gila Community College.


The chatroom dating service holds the title of most lucrative click-through advertising site. Google had to write its operator a check for $901,000 — two months worth of payment — after Google’s electronic funds transfer bounced, according to a blog run by’s founder, Marcus Frind.

Frind’s tale has inspired legions of hopeful Web site operators, including the students taking Michael Rose’s Web development class at Gila Community College.

“We all want to get money from our Web sites, right?” Rose asked his acolytes one recent morning, before sharing the tale.


Suzanne Jacobson/Roundup

Anita Barker falls back on pen and paper when her computer breaks during Web development class at Gila Community College.

The program, called Adsense, allows Web site designers to place Google-hosted click – through advertisements on their pages. Revenue accumulates per click.

Perhaps the thought of making mega bucks will propel these students, many of them Payson High School students, through the intricate world of Web development.

Rose says those successful in the field are typically patient and persistent.

“There probably is a personality type,” he said.

“It’s those people who are able to sit with their discomfort of not knowing and trust in their ability to find out eventually.”


Suzanne Jacobson/Roundup

Alex Korth gazes intently at his computer screen during a dual enrollment computer class at Gila Community College.

Sit through the discomfort, and one can develop a hugely marketable skill that provides a nice living.

GCC’s new Web development certificate allows any member of the community to earn a certificate of proficiency in two years. High school students can take the program and receive college credit. In concert with Northern Arizona Vocational Institute of Technology, the students receive free tuition as long as they complete the program.

“It’s a free lunch, essentially,” said Rose.

Other students can take the program, although traditional tuition fees apply. This is the program’s first year.

“We’re targeting somebody who wants to make a living as a Web developer,” said Rose. This skill differs from Web design, in which people learn how to create appealing Web sites. Web developers, on the other hand, learn how to create the technology that drives sites.

Rose said the idea for this program stems from his desire to help the community, and to teach kids who want to stay in Payson a marketable skill.

“I think we need some sort of economic base rather than retail and service,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of bright kids with no outlet for their brightness.”

Rose, who already taught at the college, spoke with Dean Pamela Butterfield, who Rose said had already contemplated a similar program.

Rose spent the next 18 months writing the curriculum and gaining necessary state and educational approvals.

“The program was designed specifically for NAVIT, but everyone can take it,” said Rose.

At first students learn the science of programming. “Beyond that, it’s the elegance of creating solutions that are understandable,” he said. “The only rule in programming is — if it works, it’s right.”

Students graduate the program with the skills necessary to work in the business.

Rose also hopes that he can help attract business to Payson by training a skilled work force.

“A lot of people talk about how to attract industry to Payson,” he said. “You have to have the workforce in place before businesses move here.”

Rose is also working with local businesses to develop their Web presence. Some local businesses don’t even have Web sites.

“Many of them say, ‘Why do I need a Web site?’ It’s the most cost effective form of advertising in the modern era.”

He added, “If you’re not competing in that advertising medium, then you’re losing business and you don’t even know it.”

“I think I can make technology accessible and I think I can make it fun,” Rose said. “It’s not just a bunch of nerds with pocket protectors.”


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