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Students Gain Real-World Experience Creating Websites Through WebSLAMs

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A tech center based in Baltimore, Md., is providing students with an opportunity to create websites for small businesses and nonprofits.

The students primarily work after school through what the Digital Harbor Foundation calls a WebSLAM, or Student Learning Apprenticeship Model.

For five days, they receive intensive training on WordPress software and learn basic HTML. This culminates in a weekend hackathon where the students meet with a client and develop a website.


"The kids know that they're solving real-world problems for real-world clients," said Shawn Grimes, Digital Harbor's director of technology and interim executive director. "They're actually learning what the professionals who have been doing this for five, 10 years are doing."

 He says the clients also get a lot out of it.

"They're so impressed by what the kids can do in that little bit of time," said Grimes. "To go from nothing to having a Web presence on the Internet that they've never had before, that actually looks decent. It looks like a professional company's website. It might be missing some of the features that they would get from a real Web development firm, but for the most part it's 80 percent of the way there."

Although the foundation is based in Baltimore, it has held WebSLAM events in Philadelphia and Columbus, Ohio. So far, 125 young people have participated creating more than 60 websites for organizations such as the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum in Baltimore.

 (Photo: Students participate in a WebSLAM in Baltimore.) (Courtesy Shawn Grimes via Flickr)

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