AWS Educate for the modern day Computer Science classroom

I always wondered how effectively we could utilize Cloud computing services like AWS, AZURE, and Google Cloud in an educational setting beside using it for offloading our IT Datacenter. Not long after that I was chatting with our IB Computer science teacher and learned of her challenges with implementing an Integrated Code Editor / IDE across a multi-platform environment consisting of Windows, Macs and iPads. It got me thinking and exploring in-depth into what AWS could offer, and that’s when I came across AWS Educate. However, before I dwell into AWS educate

Firstly what is AWS?
Amazon Web Services is the Internet and Cloud service wing of the mighty Amazon. Most basically it offers cloud computing/servers as a service or better know as Infrastructure as a service(IAAS). It also provides hundreds of other tools to develop, plan and host your scalable application ( be it a website, game, video hosting services like Netflix or anything else you can think off ), quite honestly it can be a bit overwhelming for the first-timers, but luckily for educational institutions there is a new offering from AWS called AWS educate.

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Four Pillars of AWS Educate

Where Does AWS Educate fit into an educational institution?
Once enrolled as a teacher in AWS Educate, they are granted a certain amount of free credits to deploy their virtual Lab and enroll students via an Email invite link. To make it more simple, AWS Educate comes with a prebuilt list of Six templates, each of them creating a virtual lab consisting of multiple AWS components depending on the computer science module you are teaching.

One of the most common use cases for IB computer science would be using the Cloud 9 template, and building scalable websites. Each of these templates enables certain services on AWS that is just enough to start building your project, without having to worry too much about managing those individual components like compute (EC2), storage(S3) and Load Balancers.

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Default AWS Educate Templates

What is Cloud 9?
Cloud 9 is a cloud-based code editor and an IDE that works with Python, Java, Ruby, HTML and much more. It is entirely cloud-based, which means no installing software on your computer or IPAD or Android, you can work with your projects anytime, anywhere and on any device.

-It is a device agnostic ( OSX, IOS, Windows ) cloud-based IDE
-It Works with different programming languages ( Python, C, Java, Ruby.)
-Cloud9 allows for collaborating on coding projects between teachers and students like a   Google Doc

Our move to a multi-platform environment for high school resulted in a device mix of OSX, Windows, and iOS, which made it hard for the teacher to ensure that the app dev environment was installed correctly on the computers let alone the iPads. AWS Cloud9 made it easy to get to the coding part straight away without the hassle of IDE installers, configurations and without worrying about backing up your work or working from another device. AWS Educate and Cloud 9 puts the ball in the teacher’s court by not having to rely on the Technology dept resources or lack thereof.

Other Challenges that AWS Educate could address in an ever-changing world of technology especially cloud computing

Most of the curriculum is not relevant when compared to today’s world of cloud computing, IAAS, SAAS, Virtualization. Although they do teach about the theory of computer architecture, networks, software development process/lifecycle, I feel it lacks the new age components of virtualization, containerization, network virtualization, Big data analytics, Artificial intelligence, and virtualization.

AWS Educate gives the student a sneak peek of upcoming and future job trends. For Eg. What it means to be a full stack developer, DevOps engineer and how the job descriptions or job functions and roles have morphed from being a plain old computer programmer/engineer to a position where he/she needs to understand the complete app dev life cycle. Meaning he needs to have advanced knowledge in DataBases, Front end development, Back end development, UI.

AWS Educate further enhances students knowledge in cloud-based networking, Web application firewall and the relevance of cloud computing in today’s world. They also gain a whole lot of exposure to Machine learning and Big Data Analytics – the role of AI in today’s computing world and how you can leverage the AWS platform with tools like Deep lens, Polly, EC2.

Understanding cloud service offerings form AWS, Google cloud or Azure gives them a holistic view of web application development and transition of applications from the desktop to the internet/cloud.

Another thing that could spark the interest of the young computer science enthusiasts across the globe is the AWS Educate Badges. Badges are a set of interactive courses build on Canvas LMS tailored for K-12, AWS Educate badges come in three flavors.

  • Cloud Explorer (all about cloud computing basics, data models, online privacy, algorithms)
  • Cloud Inventor  ( all about hardware & software, programming basics, data safety,   and redundancy)
  • Cloud Builder ( more about AWS core services related to  AWS Console, Cloud Storage, Cloud Compute, IOT Integration )

AWS Educate also has something called Career pathways for the more career-oriented IT Professionals. AWS Educate’s Cloud Career Pathways helps you to start building the critical cloud skills you’ll need to be successful in leading technology careers. It lets you earn a completion credential for each pathway and share with prospective employers what you’ve learned.

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AWS Career Pathways

The major cloud service providers like Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud platform has also come up with their own educational offerings; I anticipate more mid-level service providers like Digital Ocean and Heroku to come up with their own offerings. I would highly recommend piloting with AWS educate to expose today’s young computer science enthusiasts to tomorrow’s demand for new age technology jobs.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below or contact me if you would like to chat a bit more of my journey with AWS Educate.

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