Cloud computing has gained widespread acceptance for building and deploying applications across sectors. Organizations across the board now leverage the many benefits that cloud computing provides to transform their business processes for the better and to unlock potential. However, as technology develops, getting skilled personnel who can adapt to the latest technology and leverage the same while develop cutting-edge innovative solutions is becoming a huge challenge. A survey by Global Knowledge estimates that two out of every three organizations either face skill shortage or would within the next two years.
There is a big and growing demand for developers and professionals with knowledge of cloud computing. To this end, Amazon Web Services has launched AWS Educate to fill this void.
What is AWS Educate?
AWS Educate is a platform that helps teachers and students use cloud technology in the classroom. Unlike most technology that simulates the cloud in the classroom, AWS Education makes the real cloud available as it exists. It makes available AWS technology, cloud-based content, training materials and collaboration tools to students and educators, so students can stay equipped with the latest cloud computing skills.
One of the biggest banes of training professionals for cloud computing is the overtly theoretical approach, which often renders students incompetent in real life situations or at the very least leads to a steep post-learning on-the-job curve before new professionals get a grasp of things. AWS Educate aims at integrating real-life cloud scenarios into the curriculum and offering students hands-on experience to the latest technology, to improve their skills and enable them to graduate as competent professionals.
AWS Educate, incidentally, is not a radically new offering. Amazon already has the AWS Educational grants Program that has been up and running for several years now. This program offers grants to make cloud technology available to educators and students so that they can put big ideas into action. AWS Educate is a logical progression of this initiative, with the idea largely coming from feedback from grant recipients.
Educator Content: AWS Educate allows educators to identify and access cloud-related course content easily and quickly, and thereby incorporate cloud technology into their overall teaching curriculum. The platform offers a depository of over 100+ educator-uploaded materials, including syllabi, full course notes, lectures, videos, assignments, and more. These resources are taken from top computer science instructors, from universities around the world, including big names such as Stanford University, Harvard University, Cornell Tech, and more. For instance, the platform offers material from Eyal de Lara’s “Introduction to Cloud Computing” at University of Toronto, notes from Professor Zack Ives’ class “Scalable and Cloud Computing” at University of Pennsylvania, resources from Magdalena Balazinska’s “Introduction to Data Management” at University of Washington and many more.
AWS Resources: Apart from course content, educators and students get access to a wide library of learning material, including webinars on best practices, instructional videos on AWS services, customer case studies, and more. These resources complement and reinforce course material and other educational content in a good way.
Self-Paced Labs: The experience of having cloud-based labs that allow both educators and students the opportunity for hands-on experience working with AWS technologies is offered by Amazon. Educators receive online access to AWS Essentials courses, which give them a thorough technical overview of AWS products and common solutions. Students may set their own pace when using labs to gain practical insight.
Collaboration forums: AWS Educate offers a whole host of in-person and virtual events for the benefit of educators and students. Educators also get access to a discussion forum with other AWS Educators, allowing them to collaborate, discuss ideas, share viewpoints and do much more.
AWS credits: A huge impediment to practical education in cloud technologies is the high cost of accessing cloud-based services. AWS Credit makes the cloud extremely affordable for educators, teachers, and educational institutions. All participants of AWS Educate become eligible for AWS Credits, which they may redeem for eligible services. These ‘eligible services’ where credits may be redeemed include Amazon Simple Storage Service, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), Amazon CloudFront, Amazon Redshift, Amazon Elastic MapReduce, Amazon Glacier, and Amazon DynamoDB. Educators may use these credits to tap into services to teach advanced courses, and students may use these credits to explore and tackle advanced real-life projects.
The present annual rate for AWS Credits is $100 per student at member institutions and $35 per student at non-member institutions. This offers them free access to the Labs, student portal, AWS content for homework or self-study, and all virtual and in-person events. The annual rate for AWS credits is $200 for educators at member institutions and $75 for educators at non-member institutions. This offers them free access to labs, AWS Essentials eLearning courses, AWS content, and all educator collaborator tools besides a 50% discount on instructor-led training and certification. Institutions get extra credits for higher fees paid.
The gamut of resources offered at AWS Educate makes it possible for students to toy with projects involving real-world problems. For instance, educators may offer each student 1.2 terabytes of Twitter data and make them compete building a tweet query web service, finally evaluating them on budget, correctness and throughput requirements.
Using these course materials and resources, educators can give students real life projects such as a full-fledged social network, building a Web crawler and search engine, or more. Students understand what it really takes to harness Hadoop, cloud key-value stores, and clusters of virtual machines – things that textbook knowledge or stimulated environments can never teach. In the absence of AWS Educate, such real-life testing scenarios are very difficult to set up in the real world; and without AWS Credits, would require considerable investment.
AWS Educate offers hands-on experience for students and improves the effectiveness of educators. It is free to join for educational institutions, educators and students across the world. AWS Credits makes it extremely affordable and practically free to use. The only catch is the need for AWS to approve an application.