Select Page Announces Director of Education and Training Announces Director of Education and Training

Steve Waddell to lead the Web Professional Association’s education and training efforts into a bold new future, increasing access to education and training around the globe, a nonprofit professional organization dedicated to encouraging and supporting the development of innovative, affordable and high quality web jobs and career training, has named Steve Waddell as Director of Education and Training.

Steve Waddell the office dog

In this new role, Waddell will use his 30 years of curriculum development, entrepreneurial and market experience to strategically expand the organization’s education initiatives and global influence. Building on the success of the “” training program Waddell will seek out and cultivate strategic alliances and partnerships that acknowledge the tremendous contribution has on advancing access to quality education and training on behalf of the millions of aspiring and practicing web workers everywhere.

“We are delighted to welcome Steve,” said Mark DuBois, Executive Director of the Web Professionals Association. “His experience and skills match up perfectly with our goals for the next phase of work. Beyond a track record of building global coalitions and championing innovative solutions that improve lives, Steve brings an authentic and inspiring leadership style. His infectious energy, sense of humor and passion for making a positive social impact will propel us while creating a global movement that recognizes, supports, and promotes the vital and complementary role of individually-owned social enterprises.”

Waddell’s entire career has been dedicated to creating innovative solutions and building authentic relationships that result in positive outcomes for all. 

“Over the past decade, I have come to know the team and their total commitment to their mission of supporting Web professionals and those that teach. It is hard not to be attracted to working with such a fantastic group of professionals. It is an honor to be joining the team and championing the work of engaging and upskilling the next generation,” said Waddell. “I would not have accepted this opportunity if I had not already seen how has always done the right thing to help existing professionals and professionals on a global scale. They are the international organization with an inclusive vision for all.


Established in 1997, is a non-profit professional association dedicated to the support of individuals and organizations who create, manage and market websites, apps and web technologies. The organization provides education and training resources as well as certifications for those who work and teach in web technologies as well as those aspiring to enter this growing career field. Certifies U.S. Rural High School Students Certifies U.S. Rural High School Students

First in Nation to Earn STEM/STEAM Stackable International Industry-Recognized Certifications developed by

Haven, Kansas May 6, 2019 – Three Haven High School Students are the first in the U.S. to earn Associate Level Web Developer stacking certifications from two separate courses at Haven High School. Additionally, nine more students earned Web and Mobile Application Industry Certifications also offered by and three others earned Web Designer certification.

Graduating with Certifications

All of these students will be graduating high school with industry-recognized certifications, which is quite an accomplishment.

Haven High School is in its fifth year teaching these courses and providing students the opportunity to earn credentials. This continued success is led by the Haven Business Education Department, and the business educator responsible for this program is Jessica Wilson.

Steve Waddell—founder of CTeLearning and curriculum development partner—was asked to visit Haven HS and present a banner on behalf of the to recognize it as the most credentialed school in KS. Haven students have earned more industry-recognized certifications than any other school in Kansas.

Haven High School currently runs both the Web and Mobile Application Development and Web Development for Business courses by These courses are stackable and enable students to earn a International Industry-Recognized Certification (IIRC). These exams are proctored at the school site to maintain exam integrity and ensure each participant has met all of the minimal requirements to sit for the credential.

Power of Rural STEM and Business Education

Steve Waddell said, “Never underestimate education in the rural parts of the U.S. or the dedicated educators, administrators and students who thrive there. These students here today are gaining world-class credentials from an international professionals association like the This is not just another test delivered by a testing company. These students have received an international industry-recognized certification. This shows that high tech, high-demand career education can happen and should happen everywhere. We love being a part of rural STEAM/STEM and business education.”

Industry Recognized Certification Kansas High School Award

“Wherever a student calls home should not restrict their opportunity to discover their passions and talents for these high-demand STEM careers. Only a few short years ago the wisdom of the day was that to work in these types of technology careers you had to leave the rural community and move to suburban or urban spaces. Times have changed, those days are gone, and Jessica’s students are proving that.”

The Path to Certifications

In addition to the Web Development for Business and the Web and Mobile Application Development courses, Ms. Wilson teaches other career and technical education courses, including Business Entrepreneurship and Coding and 3D Video Game Design. This recent success is demonstrating that Haven High is a regional STEM/STEAM/CTE powerhouse.

In these courses, students learned web and app coding, created sites and apps, and built a future-ready portfolio with real-world projects. As of today, they get to add industry credentials they can show college recruiters or future employers.

“As educators we thrive in reaching for what seems to be impossible, especially when it comes to doing what is best for our students and helping them be successful. It is always appreciated to have an administration that helps to support you in these kinds of endeavors. I am very lucky here at Haven and I just want to extend a thank you to Principal Travis Moore, Curriculum Director Marty Niensteadt and our Superintendent Clark Wedel for their ongoing support of this fantastic opportunity. It is with their help and the determination and hard work of my students that we are able to continue the tradition of excellence here at Haven High. As much as I appreciate the recognition, as their teacher none of this would be possible without the work my students put into their learning and their support of one another,” said Jessica Wilson.

Business Education Industry Recognized Certification

The certification earned by the Haven HS students is delivered by, Executive Director Mark DuBois and educational team were key in creating and maintaining the international industry-recognized certifications.

“Many students take the course only for high school credit. Those who want to gain the coveted industry-recognized credential must receive a minimum course grade, meet all project performance requirements, exhibit professionalism in all class activities and receive a recommendation to sit for the exam by their course instructor. Ms. Wilson’s students took the proctored exam at Haven High” said Steve Waddell.

“We welcome the Haven students to the exciting world of web technologies. We are very proud of Ms. Wilson’s students. Haven has an incredibly strong program and we continue to see students succeeding at Haven and earning industry certifications year after year. All of us here at love seeing students take these first important steps towards high-demand STEAM/STEM careers in web and app development,” said Mark DuBois, Executive Director of the

Congratulations Kansas High School Stackable Industry Recognized Certifications
Courtesy of Haven High School Yearbook

Congratulations for Earning Stackable Certifications

The three Haven High School Students who are the first in the nation to earn their Associate Level Web Developer by stacking certifications from two separate courses at Haven HS are:

  • Kelton DeBord: Junior
  • Caleb Fredrickson : Senior
  • Ronnie Voss: Sophomore

The nine newly minted Mobile Application Industry Certification recipients are:

  • Joshua Clodfeldter: Freshman
  • Ethan Earls: Freshman
  • Dakota Fox: Sophomore
  • Z’Hakari Huffman: Sophomore
  • Maverick Lane: Freshman
  • Cole Long: Freshman
  • Nathan Schmidt: Sophomore
  • Holden Schneider: Freshman
  • Cole Zongker: Freshman
Students Receive International Industry Certifications

Congratulations to Jessica Wilson’s 2019 class of industry-recognized certification recipients. We can’t wait to see the class of 2020.

Successful 16th Annual Web Contest

Successful 16th Annual Web Contest

We believe 2019 saw our most successful web design and development competition ever. We held this in Louisville, KY, during the last week of June. Our competition is one of 103 individual competitions at SkillsUSA Nationals. Competitors must win first place in their respective states for the opportunity to compete nationally. We also choose one winner from these competitions to represent the US at WorldSkills. That competition is held every two years (and the next will happen this August in Kazan, Russia).

Our on site team

We are so appreciative of the massive efforts by so many members of Web Professionals to make this competition a reality. We have our team on site for almost an entire week. They conduct the interviews of competitors (and these mimic real interviews as many of the individuals conducting the interviews hire web professionals as part o their daily jobs. They also review the process each team follows as they provide solutions to the business problems posed in our competition work order. They also make certain the server and network environment is running smoothly and that all tams can access their individual server, cloud storage, and editor. This can be a particular challenge when some teams bring school computers which have been so locked down one can not even access the Windows Control Panel. Our team also develops the competition project/ work order and configures the environment before the competition. We are so thankful for all the help and could not do it without you.

Our onsite team of Web Professionals who make certain the competition runs smoothly. All are standing in front of our contest banner and promotional banners.
Our onsite team (from left to right) – Grant, Steve, Mark, Jonathan, Jeff, James, and David.

Our judges

We run two separate competitions (Wednesday is for high school students). We had 52 individuals competing this year. Our Thursday competition is for college students. We had 20 individuals competing this year. When the competition ends each day, we transfer all the work by each team to a secure location on one of our web servers. Judges from other states can then review the work of each team. Our judges are practicing web professionals and we have more than one judge review the work of each team. Each judge focuses on a specific area (such as accessibility). All scores are collected and finalized by the following morning. We could not achieve all this without our off site judges. If you are reading this and would like to help (or would like more information), please contact us. We can always use more judges.

If you are interested in overall comments from our judges, we provided a summary for competitors to review on our separate Web Design Contest site.

The competition environment

For those who would like to learn more about the environment we utilize, we prepared a couple of articles on our Web Design Contest site. These are listed below.

  • An overview of the server environment covers the fundamentals of how the server is configured using containers so that the work of each team is separated and secure.
  • An overview of the network environment covers the fundamentals of how competitors access the local resources. Given the logistics of where the event is held, it is simply not feasible (nor cost effective) to offer actual Internet access to competitors.


Before the competition begins, we offer training to competitors and their advisors the day before (Tuesday). This is our opportunity to make certain everyone has a solid understanding of current industry best practices as they relate to web design and development. It also gives competitors and their advisors the opportunity to ask questions and develop a better understanding of what the competition is all about. In the photo below, Jonathan is discussing process best practices.

Jonathan discussing the overall process practices for web design and development to roughly 100 competitors and their advisors.
Jonathan provided an overview of process best practices to competitors and their advisors.

WorldSkills Competitor

We also had our WorldSkills Web Design and Development competitor (Matt Vreman) speak to competitors and their advisors before the competition began. He discussed his background (he won gold at one of our prior competitions). Matt reviewed his progress as he prepares to compete in Kazan, Russia in August, 2019. I will be accompanying him as his advisor in that competition (each country is allowed to bring in one expert to help their competitor). There will be roughly 50 countries competing in Russia in web design and development.

Matthew Vreman answers questions from competitors and their advisors prior to the start of our competition.
Matthew Vreman (WorldSkills competitor in web design and development) answering questions

Contest Impact

This was our 16th year running a national web design and development competition. A lot has changed in our industry over that time. We like to think that our competition has kept pace with changes in our industry. Over these years, we have had the chance to speak with roughly 2,000 competitors and their advisors/ teachers. We believe that we are making a difference in that competitors and their teachers see what current best practices are and many have adjusted their curriculum accordingly. We see these trends continuing based on the feedback received this year (particularly from advisors). We could not do this without the help of our members; they serve in many roles (including judges and on site team). However, members also provide the funding (through their annual membership dues) to help us achieve our goal of insuring that the next generation of web professionals is following current industry best practices. We couldn’t do this without your support. If you are reading this and have not yet become a member, we encourage you to support us in this endeavor.

Best always,
Mark DuBois
Executive Director and Lead Community Evangelist

Is the bar too high for beginners?

Is the bar too high for beginners?

Personally, I have been working with web technologies for almost 3 decades (started in 1992 – yep, 27 years at this point). It was quite easy to view the source code on a web page to learn how the author had developed the page. It was easy to build a solid foundation regarding these technologies. Of course, when I first started, CSS and JavaScript did not yet exist. Fast forward to 2019. Now we have JavaScript frameworks (minified, of course), CSS pre-processors, and much more. View the source code on most sites and you will not be able to fully understand what the author has done in constructing the site.

Question - are we making it too difficult on top of a screen capture of minified code

Barriers to Entry

At one point, individuals could learn the fundamentals and enhance their knowledge as they worked through code snippets. It seems that many today are relying on frameworks for simple tasks. I first asked this question a few years ago in my article – Are we relying too much on JavaScript? Since 2016, it appears these issues have only grown. Of course, many professionals have specialized (as they must). Whether the discipline is UX, or UI, or server side development, it is still important to have a solid understanding of how all the pieces relate. Sure, one can take classes; but many at various institutions seem to cover out of date materials. This seems to force students to learn on their own. We see the results every year with some individuals participating in our national web competition. It seems that many have decided to focus on a specialty or framework from the start. Rather than developing a solid understanding of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, it seems many focus on learning a few frameworks with the intent of then landing a job as a developer. Time and again, I see social media posts demonstrating a lack of understanding of CSS fundamentals (such as float or the box model). Likewise, I have seen instances where a large amount of JavaScript code is developed where a simple paragraph tag would suffice. It seems that many are now focused on learning a subset instead of developing a solid foundation and then branching out. Perhaps this is because there seems to be so much complexity in web sites these days?

Content management systems

I have also seen the rise of content management systems (such as WordPress which now accounts for roughly 30% of new websites). I listen in various meetings where individuals speak of a language (such as React) when they mean framework. I also hear many conversations demonstrating a lack of knowledge of the fundamentals of CSS (and the proper separation of presentation from content). I also see many sites where there is no consideration for accessibility (or it seems an after thought). Certainly, Content Management Systems make it much easier to get your content online. However, I believe one should still have a solid foundational understanding of the technologies involved.  There may well come a time when a minor change is needed to make a page display as one intends. Without an overall foundational knowledge, this may be nearly impossible to achieve.

Return to the basics

Personally, I believe it is time we return to the basics. This message is particularly directed at those who teach web technologies. It is important to keep up with trends, but it is also important to make certain aspiring web professionals are grounded with a solid foundation of how to build web pages (with a good understanding of semantic markup [and why it is important], CSS, and vanilla JavaScript). Only after they have a solid foundation should they specialize (and learn frameworks).

I am stepping off my soapbox now. I am curious as to your thoughts? Are we neglecting the fundamentals and not providing a solid foundation for students? I look forward to your comments.

Best always,
Mark DuBois
Executive Director and Community Evangelist

September Update – Web Servers

September Update – Web Servers

What are Web Servers?

For those just beginning to learn about web technologies, we thought it might be helpful to provide this foundational article. A Web server is a program that uses HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol and the secure HTTPS version) to serve the files that form Web pages to visitors, in response to their requests (which come from the requesting computers browsers). Dedicated computers and appliances may be referred to as Web servers.

Web server also refers to server software, or hardware dedicated to running said software, that can serve contents to the World Wide Web. A web server processes incoming network requests over HTTP and related protocols. This Wikipedia link gives more information on Web Server.

Image of sphere with 1s and 0s


Why web design contests matter

Why web design contests matter

Students from many states compete each year in our web design and development contest in Louisville

In a couple of weeks, we will be holding our 15th national web design competition in Louisville, KY. This involves competitors from many states at both the high school and post-secondary level. We spend a significant amount of time and money every year making certain this competition happens. Why do we do it? Sure, this is an opportunity for competitors to showcase their best work. It is also our opportunity to reinforce industry “best practices” in a field which is constantly changing. The main reason we do this is that we are influencing (and improving) the careers of these competitors.

Many changes made to our 15th annual competition

We have made a number of changes in our web design contest this year. For example, we will be bringing a server and network to Louisville. Competitors will each have their own container on the server (a sandbox where they can showcase their work, but other competitors can not see their work). Judges will be reviewing competitors work on Wednesday and Thursday evening. We have outlined both our server environment and network on our Web Design Contest site.

We are helping students prepare for jobs in our field

No, really, why do we do this? To paraphrase the old question “how do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.” Over many years, we have observed that many students struggle to identify and learn what is important in web design and development. Many do not have the opportunity to take formal classes (this is especially true in nigh schools). In some cases, when formal classes are offered, the materials covered are outdated. By participating in this competition, students learn what is expected in today’s business environment (with respect to web design and development). Practice is important along with the need to test your knowledge and skills against others. Competition brings out the best. Students are exposed to a formal interview (by practicing web professionals). We provide hours of training before the competition on many aspects of web design and development. In many cases, this is one opportunity that students have to interact with web professionals and learn what will be expected of them. While our time with competitors is brief, we do help them better understand what is happening in the industry today. Sure, technical knowledge is important, but process, teamwork, communication and related “soft skills” can make all the difference when dealing with clients. this is why we stress these aspects as well.

We are what we do. And how often we do it. And how we respond to feedback and suggestions for improvement on our work. These students have decided they want to pursue a career in web design and development. By focusing on current practices with web design and development, we are reinforcing knowledge and skills that students need to succeed in our industry. Students also have an opportunity to test what they think they know and see how it stacks up against others throughout our nation. This is why we do this competition every year. It is our opportunity to affect the lives of aspiring web professionals and get them started properly. Sure, there can only be one winning team at the high school level and another winning team at the post-secondary level. But every team participating is exposed to rigor and concepts they may not receive elsewhere. Every participant gets the opportunity to showcase their skills and knowledge.We often receive feedback after the competition that it was a lot of fun and a great learning experience.

International competitor also being chosen

We are also selecting a competitor to represent the U.S. in the next international web design and development competition (to be held in Kazan, Russia in 2019). In order to be considered for this honor, these competitors had to first win our national competition and were involved in a lengthy selection process. Two finalists will be competing in Louisville. One will be selected to represent the U.S. at WorldSkills 2019.

We bring a number of web professionals from different parts of the U.S. to Louisville to help run the two day competition (and provide an additional day of training). We also have judges reviewing competitor work remotely. All projects are uploaded to a web server and judges review aspects of this work with an emphasis on their expertise. For example, we have judges who specialize in UX/UI focus on those aspects on projects submitted by competitors. We have judges focus on graphics, type and related aspects and so forth. Competitors receive general feedback as to what they did well and those areas where they need to improve. In many cases, this is the only feedback they have received on their work.

Good, fast, cheap – pick any two

During our competition, we ask competitors to focus on getting things done quickly. We also ask they spend time creatively solving the problems presented. While we are not always successful, we try to focus on doing things the correct way (including comments in your code and properly naming variables, for example). Sure, it will take a little more time up front, but competitors will be able to submit work which is easier to maintain. Rather than spending money, competitors spend a more valuable resource – time – to complete the work orders they receive.

Comments and observations will be posted on our Web Design Contest site soon after the competition concludes later this month. We will be posting via social media channels during the event.

Are you willing to help our profession?

For those reading this, we are always in need of additional judges. It only requires a few hours of your time. You get the opportunity to see directly what high school and post-secondary competitors are capable of producing these days. You also have the opportunity to provide general feedback to these competitors (and many others reading your summary comments). If you are able to devote a few hours of your time on the evenings of June 27 and 28, please contact us. You will be amazed at how greatly a little of your valuable time helps aspiring web professionals become more successful.

Best always,
Mark DuBois
Community Evangelist and Executive Director