Swinburne Uni builds AWS' own education into degree

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Swinburne Uni builds AWS' own education into degree

Swinburne University of Technology is putting together a new two-year Associate Degree focused on cloud technology, with emphasis on applying AWS services to industry issues.

The university’s principal advisor for Industry 4.0, Andrew Roadknight, told AWS Community Day in Melbourne last week the new degree will incorporate coursework from AWS Academy.

AWS Academy provides “ready to teach” curricula that is aligned with the skills necessary to achieve AWS certifications.

“What we are looking at doing is building out this new program - we hope to launch it next year - where students will have a really deep understanding and knowledge of what cloud technology is and how it is embedded into the future world of work when it comes to using AWS in various different forms,” Roadknight said.

“We want to make sure that we give students the best opportunity, which is why we want to use AWS to do so. So as part of a few of our programs, we are using the AWS Academy.”

Roadknight said the alignment of AWS Academy’s curricula to certification was useful both for students and the university.

“Part of what we are looking at is providing the platform to enable students to go and sit these certifications through the education and the training that they are undertaking,” he said.

“At the same time, it helps baseline the program against what industry is looking for.”

The latter was particularly important to Swinburne. 

“The new normal is all about making sure that what you do in the classroom is reflective of what is actually happening out there in industry,” Roadknight said.

“We want to make sure that what you're doing is happening out there, the technology that you are using in the classroom is being used out there. 

“We don't intend to spend six months looking at a particular technology that might not be used in six months’ time - what's the point?

“What we want to do is actually build the skills and knowledge for the learner to be able to experiment with something, trial it, see how it goes. If it's worth pursuing, cool, let's keep using it and build on it. If it's not worth doing, chuck it. Let's start with something else.”

Roadknight noted a trend generally in vocational and higher education to undertake “collaborative curriculum design” works with industry.

In the context of the forthcoming Associate Degree, Roadknight said the intention was to keep the coursework relatively fluid.

“With an Associate Degree, we are able to change curriculum and make sure that it's almost like a living curriculum,” he said.

“No one program will essentially be the same, because we want to make sure that each person’s experience of traveling through the program is unique to them.”

In addition to directly exposing students to uses for AWS, Roadknight said the Associate Degree is intended to help students develop soft skills such as mindset.

Roadknight characterised it as developing “creative thinking and that real adoption of 'how do we do things better?'”

“We want to bring industry engagement projects and project-based learning into the course, so students get to work on projects - whether they be societally-focused or just industry-engaged projects,” he said.

Some of the industry engagement side of the course was likely to be delivered through a Cloud Innovation Centre (CIC) set up by Swinburne and AWS earlier this year.

“We will have the ... CIC involved later on in the course to bring technology and real world projects together so that you actually get to solve some really interesting problems, or at least work towards contributing to the solving of those,” Roadknight said.

More broadly, Roadknight indicated that AWS courses could be offered more broadly in a range of degrees where technology and cloud skills were becoming more important.

“We currently have an advanced manufacturing program that has AWS built into it for the IoT aspect of advanced manufacturing, of capturing data on a manufacturing line and then pushing that up to the cloud,” he said.

“We are working to increase the capacity and use of AWS across the university.”

This could target everything from university-run programs aimed at K-12 primary and secondary students “right through to our certificate IV programs, our diploma programs, associated degree and our Bachelor programs,” Roadknight explained.

“We want to make sure that anybody that's doing some sort of tech-related course, or anything that touches on tech, does engage with AWS, or some sort of cloud tech along the way.”

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