Making a difference with Oracle Academy
The spotlight is on Joseph Leung Hing Pong, Elita Lam Yee-nee and Woo Hok Luen, Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education, Hong Kong
The Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (IVE) provides technical training to prepare 15- to 18-year-olds for jobs in a wide range of trades and industries. It is part of Hong Kong’s Vocational Training Council, whose 13 member institutions deliver vocational training to 250,000 students.
IVE’s Information Technology Discipline focuses on two areas: Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Multimedia and Entertainment Technology (MET). The ICT stream concentrates on software engineering, mobile apps development, data science, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and IoT and smart technologies. In response to the Hong Kong government’s smart city blueprint, IT Discipline faculty have developed a Smart Shop in the college’s training facilities to showcase IOT solutions and digital commerce adoption in the retail industry. IVE also works with other VTC Group members such as the Hong Kong Design Institute (HKDI), for which it has helped create a Fashion Archive.
Smart Shop (S-Shop) and Fashion Archive are fascinating projects and examples of how students put into practice database design, programming, and cloud infrastructure skills acquired through the curriculum and resources of Oracle Academy, of which IVE has been a member for over 10 years.
Oracle Academy recently had the pleasure of meeting the IVE and HKDI members responsible for the teaching and learning skills behind the Smart Shop and the Fashion Archive: Dr. Joseph Leung Hing Pong, VTC Academic Director of the IT Discipline; Ms. Elita Lam Yee-nee, Head of the HKDI Department of Fashion and Image Design; and Mr. Woo Hok Luen, Former Head of IT Department of IVE (Tuen Mun).
Oracle Academy: Can you tell us about IVE’s IT objectives?
Joseph Leung Hing Pong: IVE’s objective is to make our students work ready for the digital era. We deliver a solid foundation in database and programming so that they can incorporate technology into different trades. We also emphasize emerging technologies and their impact on business innovation and user experience. Our IT Discipline is actively engaging in multidisciplinary cooperation, supporting other disciplines or member institutes of the VTC Group – the Hong Kong Design Institute, for example – to co-create business innovation and new user experiences.
Woo Hok Luen: All students in our ICT higher diploma programmes take two core modules: database and programming. For these modules we use Oracle Academy’s Database Design and Programming with SQL and Java Programming courses. These courses provide an essential grounding before we introduce other technologies. We also recently have introduced the Oracle Academy Cloud Program and teach the use of Oracle Autonomous Database Cloud in the context of IoT and smart technologies for students to develop projects.
Oracle Academy: Can you put that teaching into the context of your Smart Shop?
Joseph Leung Hing Pong: Both projects run on the Oracle Autonomous Database and allow students to put into practice what they have learned through Oracle Academy. Any project requiring the manipulation and storage of large amounts of data benefits from using Oracle technology. The idea behind Smart Shop is to provide a hub for innovation, a safe environment where public sector, industry and research institutes can test ideas and collaborate. It’s a retail showcase designed by our students and teachers that includes a smart floor, smart locker, e-commerce and mobile app, smart vending machine, self-issued cryptocurrency, and an integrated backend digital commerce system for customer management and transaction processing.
Woo Hok Luen: S-Shop, or the Unmanned Shop, as we also call it, was built from a highly modularized set of smart technologies used in face recognition, mobile payments, Blockchain, artificial intelligence, and more so as to create an environment for students to learn and practice those smart technologies. Students can use APIs provided by the system to develop their own solutions and connect them to the other modules in sandbox mode. Through this process they can learn and practice the development of smart technologies. Oracle Database 18c Express Edition manages and stores all the transactional data.
Oracle Academy: And what about the Fashion Archive?
Woo Hok Luen: The Fashion Archive was jointly developed by the IT Department and the Fashion Department of HKDI. It’s an example of how technology is integrated into non-computer training – in this case for people learning fashion design. The project required a scalable database for managing and storing large volumes of data now and in the future. One of our teachers, an Oracle Certified Architect for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), advised the Fashion Department on how to turn a physical showroom of clothes into a digital library and also helped to realize the conversion.
Elita Lam Yee-nee: Our design institute houses over 1,500 garments and accessories, including historical, ethnical, stage and period costumes, as well as contemporary designer brands. The Fashion Archive arose from lack of space and, coincidentally, the pandemic prevented people from viewing our collection. In learning fashion design, students need to have a close look at real pieces, some of which are highly valuable. We run on Oracle Database 18c Express Edition because we need a powerful system to support database management and interactive functions such as a library and loan system. The archive holds more than 10 Gigabytes of high definition images and associated data.
Oracle Database and Oracle Cloud are indispensable going forward as we scale out and add more value. Many of our partners have shifted online business where 3D output helps buying and sourcing. Oracle Cloud also will be used to develop virtual fashion shows – a growing part of the fashion supply chain – and connect to fashion collections outside of Hong Kong.
We also have set up a Center for Design Services and Solutions in HKDI, similar to the IVE Smart Shop, integrating lots of technology, teaching students how to sell products online, training them to become key opinion Leaders, and better equipping them prior to graduation. All these initiatives need database programming, management and storage, which is why Oracle Academy is of prime importance to us.
Oracle Academy: Oracle Cloud Infrastructure has been mentioned in both of these projects – how useful has it proven to be?
Joseph Leung Hing Pong: I would like to highlight that a school like ours is the perfect place for mixing and matching different professions using information technology. Oracle Cloud is a driver in terms of crossover innovation. As Ms. Lam Yee-nee has stated, Oracle Cloud allows the Fashion Department of HKDI to experiment with new technologies and expand its reach.
Going forward, we are exploring how to include Oracle Cloud and modules such as machine learning in the curriculum to better prepare students for a cloud future.
Oracle Academy: As an Oracle Academy member now for 10 years, what benefits do you get from Oracle Academy?
Woo Hok Luen: Oracle Academy is the foundation of our core curriculum: database and Java programming. These are two of the main skills students need to be well equipped when they graduate. What’s more, these resources infuse young people with valuable soft skills, such as problem solving, collaboration and critical thinking. All our teachers use the rich online materials offered by Oracle Academy, which save so much course preparation time. With Oracle Cloud Free Tier, we will be even more efficient.
Joseph Leung Hing Pong: Understanding Oracle’s database technology and prominence in the software industry is key for our students to have a better chance to compete in the working world. The most important thing is to continue to have access to all these resources so that our students can learn, make industry relevant projects and adapt to industry standards and platforms during their studies. We are always pleased to see new offerings from Oracle Academy and are exploring how to incorporate them.
Elita Lam Yee-nee: For the Fashion Department, having access to Oracle Academy resources has been a godsend. The tools are user friendly, the support is great and the results have been fantastic. The Fashion Archive is a success and now we are focusing on the business side, looking into analytics, data collection, so that people can understand market trends and develop solutions accordingly. Oracle is and will be our backbone.
Thank you, Dr. Joseph Leung Hing Pong, Ms. Elita Lam Yee-nee and Mr. Woo Hok Luen for your passion for Oracle Academy and for preparing your students to make a positive impact.