Making a difference with Oracle Academy
The spotlight is on Barry Floyd, Professor, Information Systems and Management, at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) in San Luis Obispo, California.
Since the early 1990s, Professor Barry Floyd has taught database management, systems analysis and design, and programming at the undergraduate and graduate levels. From 1993, his courses have utilized Oracle learning resources, and later, Oracle Academy curriculum.
Floyd also is a visiting professor to universities around the world, teaching leadership, international business, negotiations, and cross-cultural management, as well as computer science.
He holds a PhD in information systems, an MS in systems science, a BS in mathematics, and an MBA. He has won numerous teaching awards, including the Orfalea College of Business (OCOB) Outstanding Information Systems Professor and the OCOB Outstanding Faculty/Advisor MBA Awards at Cal Poly, and an Excellence in Teaching Award from NYU.
For Floyd, it is satisfying to see his students professionally employed in their chosen field, and he believes that Oracle Academy’s focus on applying IT knowledge in the business context plays a key role in their success.
Oracle Academy: What drew you to Oracle and Oracle Academy resources for teaching computer science?
Barry Floyd: When I moved to Cal Poly there were only three IS faculty and 25-30 students, so we had to be a jack of all trades. To initiate database teaching, I went out to industry asking what key skills students needed. SQL and database design were the universal responses. So, I locked into Oracle.
Oracle Academy: Why Oracle?
Barry Floyd: Everyone was talking about Oracle. It had used SQL to power relational databases, was the key vendor, and Oracle skills really resonated with companies hiring my students. It’s the same today. Earlier on, IS classes taught vendor neutral technology, but for me, it was important that they have Oracle skills on their resume. Oracle certification was recognized industrywide, and for the past 20+ years, I’ve pushed all my students to get certified.
Oracle Academy: What results have you had?
Barry Floyd: I must have taught Oracle SQL to over 1,300 students since I began teaching a database design class. It’s fluctuated. There were 10-12 years when almost all of them were striving to sit for the first Oracle SQL certification exam, and my pass rate was around 85-90%. My number of students began at 25-30 per year, crept up to 50-60, hit around 130 during the dotcom boom, plunged to 25 with the bust, and today we’re back up to 130 students a year. A significant percentage of all these students took and passed one or more Oracle SQL certification exams.
Oracle Academy: And how did you initially get training on the materials?
Barry Floyd: Right from the start, I made sure I understood everything going on with Oracle. I took classes on SQL, PL/SQL programming, Oracle Database Administration, and Oracle database and design, and when Cal Poly became an Oracle Academy member, I quickly made use of Oracle Academy curriculum materials.
What’s great is that it was easy to do. Oracle Academy supported us with hands-on material which matched Cal Poly’s learning-by-doing approach. These materials improved our program. Oracle Academy also provided students with vouchers for discounts on the certification exams and on study guides. Oracle Academy provided additional training to me as needed. So I integrated Oracle Academy materials into my classes wherever I could, including database design, advanced information systems, information systems classes for MBA students, database auditing class for a Master’s in accountancy, and my business analytics classes… and I was even an early adopter of Oracle Applications in the mid-90s using Oracle materials in an ERP class.
Oracle Academy: By now you’ve been using Oracle learning materials and Oracle Academy curriculum for almost three decades. What has kept you faithful?
Barry Floyd: A number of factors. It’s the feedback, the positive vibe from industry and the enjoyment of seeing students get jobs. With the business focus of the Oracle Academy courses, students are well poised to enter the workplace as productive members on day one. Oracle skills look good on their resumés and get them jobs. Industry wants those skills and passing a certification exam is a big plus.
There’s nothing better than getting emails from recent graduates stating how valuable the SQL training has been, learning that students have become certified, have been promoted, or even that they are now teaching the same skills at their company. And simply seeing the Oracle ecosystem expand globally makes me feel proud to have contributed.
Oracle Academy: And speaking of global reach, you’ve taught in many places, too.
Barry Floyd: Indeed I have. This summer I taught a database design class in China using Oracle Academy materials. For many years I was a visiting professor at the University of Potsdam in Germany and at Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences in Finland, teaching database design and information systems.
I’ve also taught in England, Italy, Spain, Mexico, and many other places, sometimes focusing on soft skills such as conflict management, negotiation, team building, and communication to students enrolled in technical programs. In Thailand and Italy, I taught an international business course where students were required to identify a product idea and study how to bring it into the country.
In one semester, through the Internet, I was able to connect students in Mexico, U.S., and Finland from my classroom at Cal Poly, having them all work together to build international businesses online and conduct transactions between each international team.
Oracle Academy: Where do you see things going, technology-wise?
Barry Floyd: By far and away, the most important use of technology is the sharing of information and the sharing of presence. When these technologies are coupled with AI and machine learning, the world as we know it will change dramatically. I see these technologies improving my travel experiences as well as how I share my travels with others. It’s just astounding how the delivery of real-time information changes how you perceive the world. I see technologies such as cloud, telepresence, and information retrieval getting better and better.
Technology continues to change the world dramatically in key areas such as healthcare, safety, transportation, and business intelligence. My students are at the forefront of this!
In that context, I’m very appreciative of all the things that Oracle Academy has done. Essentially it has made my students more marketable, enhanced their careers, their livelihoods, and their happiness. Oracle Academy is viable, a true example of industry helping education.
Oracle Academy: And what do you do apart from teaching?
Barry Floyd: Apart from being an avid traveler—this summer I traveled to China, Cyprus, and Ireland —I play racquetball and tennis, and I love photography. I also write poetry and have been in a poetry group for over 10 years.
Another of my professional interests has been to work with Cal Poly students to better understand issues of women in technology and the difficulties women face in choosing majors and finding jobs. I’ve held many events at Cal Poly where women leaders in the tech industry speak about key issues such as self-advocacy (an Oracle exec participated in one of these events!)
I’ll soon be retiring, but will continue to teach part time in San Luis Obispo and overseas. I am very interested in world events and issues but keeping abreast of it all is time consuming. I am hoping technology makes my life easier in this regard.
Thank you, Barry Floyd, for your passion for Oracle Academy and for preparing your students to make a positive impact.