Gila Community College’s Web development program is set to graduate its first six students after next semester, and instructor Michael Rose is casting for organizations and businesses who want a Web site designed for free.
Each student will design a fully functioning Web site during the next semester for a practicum.
Rose said the class will give first priority to local nonprofits, and then to small businesses or individuals unable to afford a Web designer on their own.
Interested parties should contact Gila Community College’s Payson administration office by Jan. 14.
Although clients will receive the Web development service for free, they will need to purchase Web hosting. Rose said some companies host Web sites for as little as $5 monthly.
Design services can cost $500, but the students will work to gain experience.
“We’re expecting them to put in a three-unit semester class worth of hours,” said Rose.
Students will navigate the assignment as if it were real — complete with interviewing the client, building a prototype for initial approval and then developing the actual Web site.
The sites will feature interactive technology beyond simple text with pictures — what Rose called “dynamic content.”
“There are some Web sites that are just sort of pictures and text,” that don’t change very often, said Rose. Students must develop more complex sites.
For example, let’s say a baseball card seller wanted a site designed. The students would create a searchable menu where customers could search by player, team or card year — “to allow the user to interact with your collection,” said Rose.
“The intention is to challenge them.” After graduation, the group of six students will have gained the necessary tools to become a working Web developer.
Although 10 students started, Rose lost four through attrition. This semester, roughly nine students are taking the program’s first course. Operated in conjunction with Northern Arizona Vocational Institute of Technology, high school juniors and seniors can take the classes for free if they maintain grades and other requirements. Similar programs operate for nursing and fire science.
Students have worked hard. For two years, they have arrived at the college each weekday morning at 7:30, before switching to regular high school coursework at 10:30 a.m.
Although most of the people enrolled in the class are high school students, adult learners also take the classes. Adults, however, must pay their own way.
Rose said previously that he aims to teach kids a marketable skill so that they can stay in town and make a good living, if they choose.