Located in Rock Hill, South Carolina, Northwestern High School has an enrollment of 1,800+ students and offers International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement, Dual Credit, Honors, College-Preparatory, and Applied Technology courses.
In October 2007, Barack Obama spoke at a spirited rally at the school. At the time, Obama was actively campaigning for the 2008 U.S. presidential election under the slogan "Yes We Can."
Teaching Web Development to High School Students
Nearly ten years later, a different sort of celebrity visited campus, and the spirited rally was replaced with a spirited classroom. Mario Donato (pictured), a teacher at Northwestern High School, invited Clint Patterson to visit two of Donato's classes.
Patterson, a web developer, technology evangelist and DNN celebrity evangelist, gave a presentation and hands-on workshop to Donato's "Information Technology in a Global Society" and "Digital Media" classes.
Note: read about Patterson's time at DNN Corp. and view his 2016 keynote presentation at DNNCon in Baltimore.
According to Patterson, "The first class was more conceptual. Students in the second class had coded HTML and CSS, so the session helped them see how to apply their skills in a real-world scenario."
Photo: Clint Patterson presents to a Northwestern High School class. The photos in this post were taken by Yellow Cape Communications.
Hands-On Web Development
To help teach web development, Patterson taught students how to build basic web pages via an open source CMS, DNN Platform. Prior to his visit, Patterson worked in the classroom to set up the 22 computers. Each computer was configured with:
Windows Server 7.1
SQL Server 2012 Express
.NET Framework 4.0
DNN Platform 8.0
Check out the video in this tweet for a look at the classroom set-up.
Patterson chose DNN "because it's open source, easy to download and easy to install. It's intuitive for students to understand, use and continue learning with."
While the students had experience with HTML and CSS, none had used a CMS. Patterson assigned activities to students, which demonstrated the basic capabilities of a CMS:
Creating a page
Setting permissions on a page
Editing text on a page
Embedding images on a page
Embedding video on a page
Deleting a page
Patterson walked the room and provided assistance to students who needed it. Some picked things up on their own, while others needed to familiarize themselves with the application. Following the hands-on exercise, students were given free time with the CMS, to experiment with additional features.
Making an Impact
don't mind, could you guide me through the steps of downloading DNN to
my laptop?" [a student who attended Patterson's session]
According to Donato, "The experience was very beneficial to my students. I encourage all students to experiment with open source software and find free tutorials on the web. I want them to find new material and keep practicing. The DNN CMS was great. My students were able to use it to apply what they learned in class. Many are still using it and I’ll use it next semester, as well."
For Patterson, it was rewarding to teach future generations about one of his passions: web development. Shortly after his visit, Patterson received an email from one of Donato's students. The email read:
"I was told that you already spoke to Mr. Donato about this, so if you don't mind, could you guide me through the steps of downloading DNN to my laptop?"
Looking to the Future
As these students look towards college and later to
professional careers, how do they stay current with web development? According
to Patterson, "There is so much to learn! I told students that they can't go
Angular, React, Aurelia,
Continued Patterson, "Of course, by the time they graduate college, new options will have surfaced. So above all else, stay current and never stop learning."
I asked Patterson what the CMS of the future will look like. He responded, "The CMS of the future will make it easy to tie services together. It will allow content to be shared across several channels, but be managed from one system."
Note: to connect with Clint Patterson, visit his website, find him on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.
In his closing slide, Patterson wanted to inspire students in their web development journey. The power of web and software development is that you can build things that solve problems. You can change the world. After Patterson's session, I know what Northwestern high school students would say about that.
"Yes We Can."