Making a difference with Oracle Academy
The spotlight is on Silvia Elaluf-Calderwood, Adjunct Professor, Florida International University, United States.
Florida International University (FIU) is a top public university that drives talent and innovation in Miami and globally. High research activity and high social mobility come together at FIU to uplift and accelerate learner success in a global city, focusing in the areas of environment, health, innovation, and justice. FIU has two campuses and multiple centers, and serves a diverse student body of more than 56,000 students and 270,000 alumni.
FIU’s College of Business is among the 5% of elite business schools worldwide accredited by The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Its business management and accounting programs prepare graduates to use information technology strategically for competitive career advantages.
Dr. Silvia Elaluf-Calderwood is an Adjunct Professor, Information Systems and Business Analytics, in the College of Business. She is a qualified engineer with a telecoms and internet background. She holds a PhD in Information Systems as well as a bachelor’s degree in Engineering and a master’s degree in Science and Engineering.
At undergraduate level, Elaluf-Calderwood teaches database systems, design and analysis. At master’s level, her classes cover enterprise information strategy and management. In 2021, she introduced Oracle Academy teaching resources into her courses Information Systems Strategy and Governance; and Managing Distributed Architectures.
Oracle Academy: How did you get to know Oracle Academy?
Silvia Elaluf-Calderwood: When I arrived at FIU, there was an opportunity to offer a database course. I found that the business college was using all sorts of tools but lacked an introduction to the production environment. I wanted to change that. Someone suggested Oracle Cloud and Oracle Live SQL, and that led me to contacting Oracle Academy and FIU becoming a member.
We are using the Oracle Cloud Free Tier, provided through the Oracle Academy Cloud Program, with no setup or configuration hassles. It’s a great tool for playing with transactional data in real time. Oracle Live SQL allows us to run SQL scripts against a live Oracle database 19c through a web browser.
Oracle Academy: How do you structure your classes?
Silvia Elaluf-Calderwood: I use Oracle Application Express (APEX) and Live SQL to teach 60 students in a beginners class, two classes with one face-to-face and one hybrid. And I use Database Design and Programming with SQL in my advanced SQL class, also with a cohort of 60, again with two classes, one face-to-face and one hybrid. All of this is done through the Oracle Cloud.
I teach them all the SQL commands and use them against Oracle and other databases, and I show them how to wrangle and extract raw data for analysis, a fundamental aspect of business. We also discuss governance and privacy and best practices for database management; for example, how to use specific SQL commands to present the data in a certain way and how to not publish certain things in reports due to compliance regulations.
And with Oracle APEX, I get them to log in through their cloud accounts, install the apps packages, explore the program, search the databases, do queries on a dataset and carry out some basic reporting. Then I have them show me the results and explain to me why they queried this or that in a dataset. What’s great is we are doing all this in a production database.
Oracle Academy: Thanks for that overview. We hear you are a strong proponent of Oracle professional certification. Can you comment on that?
Silvia Elaluf-Calderwood: It’s true. Many of our students are children of immigrants, first or second-generation citizens, usually Hispanic or Black Americans, often first generation at college level. Over 60% work full or part time.
I noticed that lots who were going to graduate would be leaving FIU with diplomas but without professional certification. So, I said wait, certification shows that you are a hands-on person, it has direct benefit in making your skills more marketable. In 2021 I concentrated on Oracle Cloud certification. Eight of my students worked hard in the lab to prepare for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) certifications. They were really motivated and finished the exam practice in 40 minutes, compared to previous cohorts who had either not completed the exam or asked for a time extension.
Oracle Academy: What was the result?
Silvia Elaluf-Calderwood: They all passed and became certified. Many of them had not been aware of the relevance of Oracle in the market. But when I explained its leading position globally, they got right down to it. I created a special channel in the Oracle Academy Member Hub for those who wish to get certified in Oracle Cloud, besides the training channels for our classes and homework. I am always encouraging students to explore the Oracle Academy Member Hub and Career Center, and if they find something that they might want to study to let me know to be added to their profiles.
Cramming for and sitting the exam has made a huge difference in their level of confidence, how they look at the problems and understand the issues. Discussions have become much more two-way, not just me the teacher talking. I’m very happy that Oracle Academy has enabled students in this way. I’ll be preparing another group in the summer for cloud certification and also for the database certification exam.
Oracle Academy: How else are you using the Oracle Academy Member Hub?
Silvia Elaluf-Calderwood: The Member Hub is a brilliant resource. We use the Oracle Academy Education Bytes, we participate in the badges rewards, and I am subscribed to the mailing list to check what’s going on.
Along with cloud certification, I’ve created quite a few learning channels through the learning navigator of the Member Hub. Nested beneath certification are my classes in Java programming, homework exercises, SQL Live review material, analytics, NoSQL material, and I’ve made another for systems analytics and design.
Oracle Academy: Is the Business College the only unit in FIU using Oracle Academy?
Silvia Elaluf-Calderwood: To date, it’s mainly the business management section of the college, but I believe usage will grow. The Department of Accounting is showing strong interest and so is the Medical School. And usage will spread within the Information Systems and Business Analytics groups. I’ve facilitated training for my colleagues.
I recently gave a talk to the Association for Information Systems, which is FIU’s organization for students concentrating in the field of Business Analytics, Information Systems, and Innovation Technology. They were interested in my use of Oracle Academy. I outlined to them why Oracle is the most popular database in the world, then ran through Live SQL, APEX and cloud, how to wrangle and extract raw data from databases using SQL, and the importance in data analytics.
I explained Oracle professional certification and how valuable it can be. So, yes, FIU will be using Oracle Academy more and more.
Oracle Academy: How do you see the job prospects for graduates?
Silvia Elaluf-Calderwood: The great majority work already, but this training will open up other career opportunities. Though Oracle is number one, they may get jobs in companies using other databases. Therefore, while being careful not to overwhelm them, I also introduce them to non-relational databases, giving them the broad horizon of everything that’s out there.
They learn all the SQL commands to use against databases in general. It’s important, especially for those going into business analytics. Knowing how to extract data from any database will be a valuable skill.
Some already work in data centers here in Miami; others have set up their own small companies.
Oracle Academy: How has your Oracle Academy experience been?
Silvia Elaluf-Calderwood: Oracle Academy has been very supportive. It’s been such a great platform for us and I’ll be getting more involved in Java at a later stage. I’m interested in embracing Oracle’s potential to raise student profiles and therefore job prospects.
As I said, the Oracle Academy Member Hub is especially useful. I’m also looking at integrating some of the Oracle Academy exercises into our learning management system.
Oracle Academy: And what interests you in technology?
Silvia Elaluf-Calderwood: It all interests me. I do lots of research and I publish extensively. But above all, I am obsessed with the idea that things should be made to work as well as possible, that well-constructed technology should improve lives, improve the environment, make things better. There’s no point developing new technologies unless they can be incorporated into people’s lives. I believe we’ll see a change in monopoly on technology by a small but powerful set of companies. We should all move from consuming resources to managing technology resources, finding out what’s missing in society and improving the future.
Oracle Academy: And outside of the academic sphere?
I have one main hobby, which is mosaics. I spent a number of summers learning the technique of mosaics in Ravenna, Italy, and also attended a workshop in the London Docklands area. I do mirrors, floor designs, tabletops, lots of things.
I follow the traditional Venetian school, using esmalti―vitreous enamels made in Venice using Byzantine methods―for brightness and color. I am getting very much into micro mosaics, using small mosaic pieces of glass to make figurative images.
Thank you, Dr. Silvia Elaluf-Calderwood, for your passion for Oracle Academy and for preparing your students to make a positive impact.