AWS expands cloud training to high schoolers


High school students can now join their college-aged peers in learning about and building skills related to the cloud, as part of a recent expansion of AWS Educate.

In its quest to “teach tomorrow’s cloud workforce today,” AWS Educate introduces students to cloud computing and the technology fueling artificial intelligence, voice recognition, facial recognition and gaming.

Intended as a way of offering early exposure to the field, AWS Educate serves “as an on-ramp for younger students to understand and get excited about the capabilities of the cloud,” Ken Eisner, senior manager for AWS Educate at Amazon Web Services, told EdScoop.

At its re:Invent conference in Las Vegas last week, AWS officials announced the company was expanding the cloud initiative to include students ages 14-17.

For now, that cohort will have access to resources that explain the basics of the cloud. In 2018, AWS will roll out full academic courses that allow students to earn both high school and college credits, following the input and partnerships from a number of high schools and colleges, Eisner said. Additional, unspecified features will be released over the next few months.

Already students can work through AWS Educate materials — which is suitable for a range of skill levels — and earn micro-credentials called digital badges.

AWS Educate, which launched initially in 2015, today has over 1,500 educational institutions as members and hundreds of thousands of students using the program, the company said. Eisner mentioned Carnegie Mellon University and Arizona State University as those creating such career pathways for students.

So, why expand to the secondary-school students? Well, for one, Eisner said AWS realizes this exposure must happen early — and often. “If we don’t get in front of these students when they are young, we risk leaving them out of this exciting revolution – a revolution that will create the innovators, entrepreneurs and technologists of tomorrow,” he said. AWS is open to reaching students even younger than the age of 14 as they receive and assess feedback from those who join the expanded program.

Plus, cloud computing has become the “new normal” for technology and innovation, Eisner said.

“[Cloud] is bringing new computing and big data models to every business around the world, allowing them to innovate faster than ever before,” he said. “In order to prepare for this new normal, students will need to be better versed on the underlying infrastructure of the cloud, in addition to having a basic understanding of computational thinking and data sciences.”