Amazon Web Services, Arizona State to offer for-credit cloud education to 10K high schoolers

by Joseph K. Clark

Dive Brief:

  • The company announced Wednesday that Amazon Web Services is working with the nonprofit National Education Equity Lab to offer cloud computing classes to high school students in low-income districts.
  • The Ed Equity Lab partners with higher education institutions to deliver credit-bearing courses at no cost to high school students. The cloud computing classes will start this fall and will be asynchronous and taught by Arizona State University faculty members trained by AWS.
  • Students will receive college credit from Arizona State for completing the classes and will be able to earn an AWS certification. The effort aims to reach more than 10,000 high school students.

Dive Brief:

The new initiative is the latest instance of AWS working with colleges to train students on its popular cloud computing platform.

Amazon Web Services

AWS has created a cloud computing curriculum, which it distributes to a vast network of colleges and universities. In the U.S. alone, around 200 higher education institutions have taught at least one course built by AWS, according to a publicly available list.

The arrangements help colleges keep up with curricular changes in a fast-changing field, and they create large pools of workers that understand Amazon’s cloud products. Although working with employers on educational programs is more common at two-year schools, the rising demand for cloud computing skills has also spurred four-year schools to forge similar partnerships with AWS.

Ed Equity Lab is teaming with Amazon to build on this work. So far, high school students have earned more than 2,200 college credits through Ed Equity Lab, which counts Howard and Harvard universities as partners, according to the nonprofit’s website.

High school teachers will co-teach the classes during the school day, and students will meet virtually with teaching fellows every week to ask questions, said Leslie Cornfeld, Ed Equity Lab’s founder and CEO.

“We are making it a priority to really be able to offer opportunities in areas where we know that there’s a fast-growing career potential,” Cornfeld said.

Students who complete the courses will receive college credit from Arizona State and the opportunity to earn an AWS certification, which will be offered for free during the upcoming academic year.  “It’s really a way for us to provide college and career opportunities together,” Cornfeld said.

According to a news release, they may be able to transfer their credit to two- and four-year cloud computing programs at other colleges.

Although working with AWS can help colleges quickly stand up programs that teach students real-world skills, these partnerships can come with drawbacks. Schools risk working with tech companies that don’t end up being primary players in the cloud computing market.

That threat, in this case, is minor, however, as AWS currently controls the largest share of the market. Microsoft and Google, Amazon’s top cloud computing competitors, have also worked with higher ed institutions to build curricula.

Google created a platform for college faculty members to access cloud resources, and it offers a curriculum they can embed in their courses. Microsoft has similar offerings for students and instructors.

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