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Giving back to the WordPress community is something we take very seriously. Without the WordPress community, we wouldn’t have a content management system that forms the base of most sites we build for our amazing clients.

We therefore try to give back whenever we can. We do this in various different ways, including contributing to the WordPress code base, sharing our knowledge at events, helping to organise our local WordUp and WordCamp, as well as sponsoring other events/WordCamps around the globe. Recently, we started a new initiative to give back our time in a slightly different way.

Introducing The Digital Bootcamp

We were approached by Trinity Education, an organisation who “designs high-quality, cutting-edge tertiary education programs that impact the lives of young adults in the Majority World”. They were looking for fresh volunteers to help assess the work of students in Haiti who were enrolling in an online course, The Digital Bootcamp.

The Digital Bootcamp is designed for students who want to expedite their pathway to employment. They’ll each be completing an online web design, development and digital marketing course that provides practical employment training, and finishes with each student having designed two WordPress websites and earning themselves a Google Certificate too.

A group of us at Pragmatic found this idea particularly engaging, and wanted to volunteer a few hours a week each to help this good cause. After liaising with our contact at Trinity Education, myself, Tom Chute, Tommy Ferry, Josh Casbolt and Adam Hollister were signed up and had been assigned our very own student each – it was time to begin marking!

The course is split into 8 weeks, with 6 weeks of volunteer time needed. The breakdown of the course is as follows:

  • Weeks 1 & 2: Basic design, HTML & CSS Training
  • Students are required to complete the first two weeks alone without any assessment, tackling basic HTML and CSS courses on online training platform, Code School.

  • Week 3: Design Theory
  • Students need to complete 4 days of tasks involving design principles, colour schemes, and image and video editing. By the end of this week they would have chosen fonts, a colour scheme and website layout type for their own portfolio site.

  • Week 4: Portfolio Setup & WordPress
  • Next, the students are given a sample template that they are required to edit, customising it to make it unique with fonts, colours, icons and content, plus planning menus, hosting, and domain name for their own sites. As assessors we are expected to give them feedback and guidance on their work.

  • Weeks 5 & 6: Design 2 x WordPress Websites
  • Over the next two weeks, students will be developing their own websites, creating a personal blog and professional business website that they can add into their portfolio once finished. Assessors were asked to offer their own advice for making their sites unique, professional, well-presented and well-produced.

  • Weeks 7 & 8: Digital Marketing & Finalising Portfolio
  • Students then complete the “Google Digital Skills for Africa” course, which consists of 24 short lessons covering basics of keyword search, SEO, web analytics, local listing, social media, mobile/display advertising, content marketing and more. They are then asked to apply these techniques to their websites where possible.

  • Week 8, Days 4-5: Final Portfolio Submission
  • Now with their websites created, students are required to deploy their sites on to GitHub. Assessors are asked to give a final grade and wrap up with any further comments and feedback. If a student receives a final score of 70% or more, they will be awarded a Certificate of Completion.

We’re currently halfway through the course with students working on Week 5, designing their own WordPress websites. So far, I’ve found the process to be really fun and rewarding. It’s been great to see my student doing their own research, coming up with ideas based on their own opinions, and then taking any comments on board – although they do a pretty good job without it!

I’m particularly looking forward to seeing the finished websites that they will produce, as it will be great to see the transition from the training in Week 1 to Week 8.

Feedback is a crucial step in creating a website, and something every developer is used to receiving, either from their peers or the client (usually both!). So it’s nice to be involved in a project where we can pass our own experiences on, in the hope that one day they too will find a career working in the ever-evolving web development industry.