Students Learn Web Development and Content Management Using Virtual Environments

June 3, 2015 -- New virtual environment Web Technology and Linux classes provide CNM students real-world learning experiences that will make them ready for the workplace faster.
July 16, 2015

The first classes were offered in the Spring Term, drawing some 100 students in six sections.

Paul Clark, Web Technology instructor, said the virtual environment was the result of the purchase of two virtual host servers, each with 32 gigabytes of ram using federal Perkins Fund grant money. Desktop computers are connected to the servers, giving students the opportunity to produce web pages using real-world content management systems like Plone and WordPress. Since the web pages are a learning tool, they can’t be seen by the general public, only to the students using the servers in the classroom.

Knowing how to develop web pages with Plone is particularly important because many of the major employers in Albuquerque – Albuquerque Public Schools, Sandia National Laboratories, the City of Albuquerque and CNM – use it.

“The students’ web pages have their individual domain names,” Clark said. “Seeing their names gives them pride and ownership of the pages.”

Clark encourages the students to develop web pages that include topics in which they are interested. One student’s website featured a search for the best macaroon, a type of French cookie, in the city. It turned out that she couldn’t find one, so she developed her own recipe that she included on the website. Another student went into detail on her website about scrapbooking.

Chu Jong, a computer instructor, was co-developer of the classes using the virtual environments with Clark. He said that other schools around the country are implementing similar curriculum.

Jong and Clark will be presenting their model for providing students with real-world, hands-on experience operating Linux computers and managing web servers at the seventh annual Enterprise Computing Community Conference June 14-16 at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Jong, a former professor at Illinois State University, co-founded the ECC conference in 2008.

Clark said the virtual aspect of the computing classes was integrated into curriculum used in previous Web Technology and Linux classes. Currently the virtual computing can only be done in computer labs on campus.

“We hope to change that soon so that students can access the virtual computing anywhere it’s convenient for them – from their home after work, for example,” Clark said.