DCC computer class gets hands-on experience (with video)

Brendan Heidner
Thursday, December 19, 2019
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DCC Web Development Instructor, Lillian Dixon and student, Adam Hilbert listen to James Stocker explain a bug he is trying to fix in class on Monday.


“We put lightning into a rock and made it think,” Dawson Community College web development student James Stocker said.

With millions of tutorials available on the Internet, anyone can do almost anything they want, but no free tutorial can fully prepare someone for a professional career like the Full-Stack Web Development course at DCC.

In the 2019 fall semester, instructor of the course, Lillian Dixon, led her three current students, Adam Hilbert, James Stocker and Kade Deines through the intensive “boot camp for web development” offered at DCC.

The course runs similar to a full-time job. Eight hours a day, five days a week for 16 weeks. By the end, students walk away with two certificates and the skills needed to hit the ground running in a professional career in web development.

Before graduating from the course herself earlier this year and becoming a coding instructor, Dixon started from the bottom with a clean slate.

“I started out not knowing anything about how to code and now I’m teaching other people how to do it,” she said.

On top of the intensity of the course, an opportunity arose for the three students to gain “real world” experience before graduating.

“The (Glendive Chamber) contacted us and wanted us to make (their website) a little more user friendly and spruce it up a little bit,” Dixon said.

Having just spent a semester learning how to do nearly anything they wanted to through writing code, the Chamber’s website project presented Hilbert, Stocker and Deines not only with experience, but also a challenge.

“It’s definitely been a struggle at times because (Word Press) is new software that we haven’t worked with all year,” Stocker said.

Despite the fact none of them were particularly familiar with Word Press, they took on the hardship and set out to give the Chamber website a fresh new look.

Although titled as a web development course, there are other jobs to which students may pursue with coding knowledge and experience. Stocker intends to eventually move on in his career to video game design, but noted the value of the course at DCC as a “great place to start, great way to learn code, great way to get your foot in the door.”

“I’ve really learned a lot in the short time that I’ve been a part of the course,” he said.

As for future direction of the course, Dixon hopes her students can always find those opportunities in the community before graduating. She mentioned the “customer - developer” relationship as a great experience for the students as they learn how to give the client what they want in terms of building a website. Not only that, but community organizations such as the Chamber can benefit from the service Dixon’s students can offer.

“It’s already, I think, benefiting the community,” Dixon said.

With the demand for developers becoming higher and higher, the course itself and the practical application projects Dixon’s students get to work on are helping them stay ahead of the game in the world of coding.

Reach Brendan Heidner at news@rangerreview.com.