Making a difference with Oracle Academy
The spotlight is on André Wheeley, principal database teacher, Canberra Institute of Technology, Australia.
Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) provides vocational education to 20,000 students in Australia’s capital, equipping them with practical skills needed both for industry and government work. The Institute is located within the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), a small region, but home to all federal government departments and agencies.
CIT’s Science and Technology College has six departments, one of which—the Information & Communications Technology department—uses Oracle Academy curriculum for teaching database programming and software development. These skills are prized by a public sector that predominantly uses Oracle as its database technology.
André Wheeley, principal database teacher, recommended Institutional membership in Oracle Academy upon being hired by CIT in 2010. Today he teaches the Oracle Academy courses Database Design and Programming with SQL; Programming with PL/SQL; and Database Foundations to 40 students enrolled in three-year Programming and Software Development diploma courses.
Oracle Academy: What made you choose Oracle Academy curriculum as your teaching methodology?
André Wheeley: For me, Oracle has always been the best technology on the market. I was an Oracle consultant programmer for several years and developed applications using Oracle technology at a number of federal government departments.
In my job interview, the panel asked me to teach them something, so I did. I used Oracle Academy materials to talk the panel through the five-step sequence of the PL/SQL cursor process. Then I tested them, and they all recalled the five steps. I was hired and Oracle Academy materials were adopted!
Oracle Academy: What type of job openings does Oracle technology lead to in Canberra, the seat of Australia’s government?
André Wheeley: Various federal and local government departments have long used Oracle and relational database technology, and that is not likely to change. The government departments always need a steady supply of fresh talent familiar with this technology. So teaching these skills with Oracle Academy curriculum at CIT is a win-win situation: we help the local industry and help students to land jobs in Canberra.
One of my students recently landed a job with the government agency for statistics. In the interview they hammered him with SQL questions, and he nailed every one of them. They hired him on the spot! He learned it all from the Oracle Academy classes.
Oracle Academy: To what extent do you follow the Oracle Academy curriculum?
André Wheeley: I use the materials pretty much out of the box. It’s a refined curriculum, well thought through, sequenced in a logical way to help people to learn database programming and modelling step by step. What’s more, the curriculum aligns with AQF—Australia’s national qualifications framework.
Oracle Academy: We see that you recently got a thumbs-up from students in a big way…
André Wheeley: Yes, that was cool. Students voted me ICT Department “Teacher of the Year” in 2019 and Outstanding Teacher of the Year across all the College of Science and Technology departments. They seem to like my passion for teaching well. Apart from having great materials to work with, I also spend a lot of time building online learning communities and finding ways to reach hearts and souls.
It’s important to make students feel that they belong somewhere, whether through eLearning or in-class, and I get involvement by sparking interest through storytelling, especially pie-in the-face tales.
For example, the time I goofed on Step 5 of the cursor process: Close all cursors. I tell my students when I was working at a government agency where I executed some code 256 times and on the 257th, the database crashed. I arrogantly told the DBA to fix her ‘broken’ database, but discovered that the crash was caused by a user called awheeley who had exceeded the number of allowable open cursors - 256! I sheepishly returned to my desk to fix my broken code and ensure that I always do step 5: close all cursors.
Stories like that get their full attention, because they can see how some previously abstract concept fits into a real-life situation—that you can bring down an application if you don’t do things right. They see how a seemingly trivial bit of technology plays a vital role.
Oracle Academy: We note that you are a member of the ACT Oracle User Group and the Oracle PL/SQL Developers and Programmers Group. What other activities are you passionate about?
André Wheeley: I love cycling; it keeps me trim. Other than my wife and two teenage daughters—and our black poodle—cycling is my outside work passion.
Recently I completed a four-day, 350km mountain biking event to raise funds for the fuel required by emergency aircraft supplying medical care and other resources to people in remote communities. That’s highly satisfying, because those pilots all work on a volunteer basis.
On another level, if you are visiting ACT for the first time, I’m part of a bunch of people who show tourists and visitors around by bike. We take them on the best local cycle routes, show them the sights and introduce them to the unique capital city that is Canberra.
Thank you André Wheeley for your passion for Oracle Academy and for preparing your students to make a positive impact.