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ASU course encourages high school students to get their heads in the cloud

ASU course encourages high school students to get their heads in the cloud
April 13, 2022

It’s an early morning wake-up call for Trinity Smith, a leading teaching fellow and student who studies business data analytics at Arizona State University. WP Carey Business School.

This semester, Smith begins most mornings with 30 high school students enrolled in CIS 194 Cloud Foundations, a course offered by Arizona State University.

Arizona State University students serve as teaching fellows on a cloud computing course
Arizona State University students, faculty, and staff lead the Cloud Foundations course for high school students. Pictured from left to right (top row): John Roma of Arizona State University, Jason Nichols and Lucas Winrick; (Bottom row) Arizona State University Havana students Kanomori, Trinity Smith, Luke Sherry and Justin Manila.
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The online course was jointly developed with ASU University technical office and WP Carey School of Business, along with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the National Education Equity Lab.

The class presents an opportunity for high school students—targeted at those who enroll in Title I or underserved schools—to earn high school and college credit, as well as an industry certification, in cloud computing.

Nationwide students participate in the Arizona State University course

Now in its second semester, the 13-week course is offered in a hybrid fashion to more than 185 high school students nationwide, including states such as Iowa, Louisiana and New York.

The course uses Canvas to manage the asynchronous portion of online learning – this includes recorded lectures by ASU faculty, along with weekly assignments and tests. Students log into the course directly from the classrooms and computer labs of their convenient high school, reducing barriers to students accessing the online course and learning materials.

Many students do not have reliable access to devices or an internet connection at home, so it is essential that they have the time and space at school to complete the course.

“As a teaching fellow, I realized that the digital divide is much more complex than the lack of appropriate resources,” said Smith, who is one of five teaching fellows participating in this class. opportunities in education and careers in IT, which makes this course even more important for these students.”

In addition to asynchronous learning, students are invited to join weekly hours with course teaching fellows, who have enrolled ASU students like Smith. Made on Zoom, students from all schools join in to review the current learning unit, complete homework and ask questions.

On average, about 30 to 35 students join each of the live sessions. Smith notes the importance of this interaction to students.

“Although optional, these sessions are highly attended by students to review the current learning unit and, even more effectively, to gain a basic understanding of the upcoming course content,” Smith said.

Because the topics are so complex, this time allows students to feel a little more comfortable with the content before diving into the next unit.

Teaching colleagues are critical to the success of the course. Not only do they provide opportunities for face-to-face instruction and discussion, but they also take the bulk of daily tasks—including grading and communication with students—removing pressure from secondary school teachers.

Teaching staff at WP Carey Raghu Santanam School and Jason Nichols are co-teaching the course, along with UTO Vice President of Information John Rome.

“The next generation of jobs will require a working knowledge of cloud computing infrastructures,” Santanam said. “It is therefore very essential for any student today to be familiar with cloud technologies and their potential applications. Having this foundational knowledge while in high school gives a great opportunity for these students to develop an interest in technical professions.

Welcome to the Cloud: Go CIS 194 Cloud Foundations

At a very high level, cloud computing is simply an approach to sharing centralized computing resources and infrastructure across multiple clients. The ability to use the same core infrastructure for multiple companies enables greater flexibility, security, reliability, and efficiency for customers.

The course uses weekly modules to deliver content, with topics including Introduction to the Internet, Networking, and Fundamentals of Cloud Computing – from Cloud Architecture to Storage.

The course builds on AWS content to teach you more about the cloud. This makes sense because AWS is the largest cloud provider, Owning nearly half of the world’s public cloud infrastructure market.

Indeed, Rome said, “AWS provides a great starter suite of cloud content that we can build upon to provide a great learning experience for these students.”

“In addition to earning college credit and the opportunity to earn an industry-recognised degree, another benefit is having the idea that going to college is achievable in the students’ minds. How amazing is this course that can change the course of these students.”

The course extends students to explore the role of cloud technology in modern business, identify appropriate cloud services to support business needs, configure core cloud infrastructure through ASW and recommend improvements to core cloud infrastructure changes.

Smith notes that the course not only provides students with a foundation in cloud computing, but also teaches best practices for online etiquette. She gave examples of students learning how to properly format an email, participate in Zoom lessons, and send assignments on time.

“In addition to the technical foundation they learn for cloud computing, these skills will make students more employable and hopefully facilitate the transition to college,” Smith said.

At the end of the course, students not only receive high school and college credit but are also invited to complete the free AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification Exam.

Compatibility with future jobs

Cloud computing is expected to continue to grow over the next few years, impacting the career journeys of those working in this technology field and for organizations that transition to cloud-based infrastructure as part of their digital transformations.

In fact, Arizona State University embarked on its transformation into a fully cloud-based infrastructure as early as 2015. Major milestones include Migrate ASU Data Warehouse to the Cloudresulting in faster speeds, lower costs, and nearly infinite scalability.

While it’s an early wake-up call for Smith, she said she’s excited to be working with future leaders.

“These students are so passionate about learning, they give the course its heartbeat,” she said.

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