USA Tour – Oracle HQ

As part of the USA Tour I had the opportunity to visit two  of the largest companies in the Silicon Valley; Oracle and Intel.  The interesting thing was I had not previously related these two companies with education programs and because of this I was curious to see what they had to offer.

Oracle

What was immediately evident upon arriving at Oracle was the major influence Oracle exerted over many companies particularly developing integrated systems for banks and huge world wide companies.  Without a doubt, Oracle was second to none in their provision of service for visitors.  They provided a full breakfast plus the opportunity to meet with senior education sector personnel and interns

As part of the briefing we were exposed to the Oracle graduate program currently installed for students studying secondary and university courses, majoring in computer science and engineering.

Oracle has three major trends

Oracle Giving – Oracle Volunteers – Oracle Academy

The one which most fascinated me was the Oracle Academy. The focus of this arm relates to four key trends.

Technology & Curriculum – Teacher Training

Recognition – Community & Mentoring

A very detailed synopsis was presented outlining the implementation of a systematic approach to increase the interest levels of students and teachers in relation to integrating basic programming into curriculum. The specifics of this related to the progression of content oracle will provide to schools for use in secondary classrooms. This centred on the key programming languages of Java and just as importantly the object oriented languages of Alice and Greenfoot.

Teacher training was high on the Oracle agenda with the creation and soon to be released virtual environment which will train teachers along with providing live training with 1-1 support. As teachers progress through this training, signed up school by school, the importance of recognising teacher efforts has also been addressed through the ability to gain Oracle certification, Master Educator Certification and participation in the Java Contest.

Finally the ability to integrate their community with the teaching community was key to the success with Oracle partners and employees providing first contact to help schools establish programs. Secondary to this has been the push for the employees of the company to ‘adopt a school’ which looks to foster and strengthen the programs on offer and support technically and perhaps financially future projects.

I would like to highlight the importance of exploring Alice as suitable extension work for students showing an aptitude in maths. More often than not, students are provided with additional work or they simply progress through the levels.  As an educator, I am now considering using programs like Alice and Greenfoot. It is about making them apply the knowledge of maths in a context structured like a game.

I look forward to working with Oracle in the future and I firmly I believe it is with the support of these companies, educators will be able to generate more interest in the skills shortage area of Computer Science and Engineering.