Teaching Joomla at Portland Community College

Open Source in Education

On this blog we interview people who are helping open source make inroads at universities.

We’ve spoken with teachers of open source at Harvard, Emory, Penn State and other colleges.

This week we’re delighted to talk with Amy Clubb, who teaches Joomla at Portland Community College in Oregon..

Hi Amy, can you introduce yourself?

amy clubbI am a full-time instructor at Portland Community College (PCC) in the beautiful northwest corner of the country. I have been teaching Website Development & Design, along with desktop application courses for the past 17 years. I love teaching, both in the classroom and online, and love working with Community College students.

Prior to my journey here at PCC, I worked as a corporate trainer for a small company in Beaverton, OR. I was responsible for training all in-house employees on our proprietary software and Microsoft Office programs. I also traveled to client sites to train others on our software. I began teaching private piano lessons as a hobby and found that it was a perfect job to do while starting a family. So I resigned from my corporate job and began working from home. I started with 5 young students and soon found myself with 30 students and a mile-long waiting list (piano teachers are in high demand!). This was a great job, but after 10 years, I found that the schedule was too disruptive for our family life, so I decided that teaching for PCC was enough.

Do you only teach, or you do you also build websites?

Yes, I’m also a freelance web designer. What does this mean? Well, when someone finds out that I know how to do “web-stuff”, I always get the question: “Will you do our website?” I often have to say no – it’s quite a lot of work to design an entire site. But I have said yes a few times over the years and currently am the “webmaster” for 3 sites for local organizations. So, when I’m not working on teaching, I am spending time on the web trying to maintain and update websites – a task that never seems to be complete!

I love all things “Apple” – I have a 27″ iMac at home, plus a Macbook. And of course several iPods, an iPhone, and an iPad (and I’m looking forward to getting an Apple Watch. What was life like before Apple came along – I’m not sure. More and more of my students are coming to class with MAC computers, however, our classrooms are stil. a PC environment. My dream would be to say good bye to all PCs and Windows-based systems and just live in a land of MAC computers.

I love to teach and am always finding myself in a position of helping others learn new skills. I have a Masters degree in Adult Learning and enjoy walking through the learning process with adults. My teaching philosophy is learner-centered. I view education as a journey that the student, as the learner, and I, as the teacher, can take together.

When I’m not teaching, you’ll find me on the golf course (unless it’s raining!). I love to travel south and find beautiful, desert golf courses. I also enjoy skiing (we do live in the Pacific Northwest!) and spending time with my husband and 2 children.

What classes do you teach?

All of the classes I teach are within our 2-year degree program for Website Development and Design.

Students can earn a 2-year AAS degree or a 1-year Certificate. Specifically, I teach courses on Joomla, WordPress, Dreamweaver, Adobe Creative Cloud, Web Graphics, HTML, and CSS.

Can you explain how you bring Joomla into your class?

In our program at PCC, students are required to take at least one CMS course. They can choose from 3 different courses – one teaches Joomla, one teaches WordPress, and one teaches Drupal. Many of our students take one of them, as required, and then continue on to take the other two as electives. Once a student has a taste of what can be done with a CMS, they are anxious to learn more. These courses are designed to cover the CMS program at a beginner level. Most of the students have some website-creation knowledge, but many have limited knowledge so we have to keep these classes pretty basic.

I structure my Joomla class and my WordPress class similarly. Students work through step-by-step exercises to create websites, and then they put together a final website project on their own. Many students use these final projects to build a website for a friend, relative, or client – so they are quite good!

What kind of students do you have in the class? What goals do they have?

The majority of the students in my classes are students who are in our Website Development & Design program – either working towards their 2-year degree or a 1-year certificate. Their goal is to get a job! Many of our students graduate and go on to find jobs as entry-level web assistants. And many of our students graduate and begin consultant work as web designers and developers. My classes are extremely diverse (as is typical for a community college). I have students from age 16 all the way to 70 years old.

Students who are in my Joomla class specifically, really want to build a good-looking, solid website. They want their sites to rank high with search engines and attract customers. They want to be able to hand off the site to non-technical folks for site updates. And they all seem to want to post pictures on their sites.


  • Steve Burge

    Steve is the founder of OSTraining. Originally from the UK, he now lives in Sarasota in the USA. He was a teacher for many years before starting OSTraining. Steve wrote the best-selling Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress books.

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