Making a difference with Oracle Academy
The spotlight is on Juan Carlos Niño Maldonado, Universidad Militar Nueva Granada, Bogotá, Colombia.
The Nueva Granada Military University, known in Spanish as Universidad Militar Nueva Granada and locally as UMNG, is a public, self-funded university based in Bogotá, the capital city of Colombia. The roots of the university can be traced back to 1962 when the Military School of Officers began offering civil engineering, economics, and law programs. Later, with an additional focus on medicine, the institution was established as a university in 1982. UMNG has two campuses in Bogota and a third in Cajicá, some 24 miles north of the capital.
Cajicá is home to the Faculty of Knowledge Technology, which oversees the 'University 4.0' program initiated in 2019 by the University Rector, Brigadier General Luis Fernando Puentes Torres. The 'University 4.0' initiative aims is to incorporate elements of computer science into the curriculum of UMNG's eight faculties, including those that previously had little or no information technology in their course structure.
The initiative responds to a shortfall of 62,000 IT professionals identified by the Ministry of Technology and Communications. A further driver of the initiative was an unprecedented wave of desertion ― a large number of students dropping out, partly due to the lack of IT instruction and partly due to Covid 19 confinement.
To address the issues and spur 'University 4.0', the UMNG signed an agreement with Oracle Academy. During an intensive three months, the Department of Knowledge Technology (TdC) and the Faculty of Basic Science followed a 'Master Teacher' program through which teachers learned the basics of database design and Java programming. Subsequently, these teachers transferred their learning to an equal number of teachers from other faculties.
We met with three key members to hear about their success:
Oracle Academy: Can you tell us about the University 4.0 program?
Juan Carlos Niño Maldonado: The background of this initiative was an alarming rate of dropouts during the global pandemic. Our rector set in action a four-year plan to inject IT into every part of the university and thereby provide broader skills sets. My team was entrusted to make this happen. The rector's objective was to introduce teachers with little or no technology background to database and Java skills. Areas of specialty include Medicine, Bacteriology, Mathematics, Electronic Engineering, Education, International Relations, and also Distance Learning.
Oracle Academy: And what is the role of your department, Knowledge Technologies?
Juan Carlos Niño Maldonado: The Department of Knowledge Technologies develops teaching and dissemination of knowledge in the areas of programming and computer science. We work under the Faculty of Basic Sciences, providing academic support for undergraduate and graduate students, teachers, researchers and, through e-learning, for members of the military and the national police. We also act as a Certification Center.
Oracle Academy: Terrific. And how did you work with Oracle Academy to accomplish the University 4.0 objective?
Juan Carlos Niño Maldonado: To accomplish this, we naturally had to train our teachers in how to teach database design and programming and Java programming. Thanks to Oracle Academy, we became Institutional members and crafted an agreement that would lead us to our goal. Specifically, we established a three-phased project and kept to it.
The first phase involved selecting teachers willing to be trained as Oracle Academy Master Teachers. 29 teachers rose to the challenge and, over three intensive months during the pandemic, they were taught database programming and Java by Oracle Academy instructors online. These teachers came from areas as diverse as Medicine, Psychology, Microbiology, Education, Mechatronics, and other disciplines.
Once we had 29 teachers trained as Master Teachers, the next phase was to decide which among them would then pass on their learning to other teachers. We chose six, three for Java and three for database. For Java we had a psychologist, an engineer and an expert in education. For database we had a bacteriologist, a microbiologist and a doctor. The six Master Teachers then transferred their knowledge to 28 teachers, almost all with little or no IT experience.
Oracle Academy: How did you get involved as Master Teachers?
Catherine Esteban Ojeda: Teachers interested in either database or Java were invited to apply to become Master Teachers. It was during the pandemic, so everything was online, three hours every Monday morning for two months with refresher sessions in the afternoons. We had access to the Oracle Academy Member Hub to utilize all the curriculum and resources. As a psychologist I found myself early on saying 'what have I got myself into?” So did other colleagues. On top of what we were learning, we also had to learn how to teach it to others ― nothing simple! But we made it and came out as Master Teachers. I was one of the six who then delivered the 'Train the Trainer' program.
Juan Carlos Niño Maldonado: I also became a Master Teacher. Oracle Academy gave us a smooth path. For Java we began with Java Fundamentals, learning Alice and Greenfoot, before moving on to Java Foundations and Java Programming. In learning how databases work, we followed the Database Foundations, Database Design and Programming with SQL and also Programming with PL/SQL curriculum.
Oracle Academy: Can you tell us about the teachers you helped educate?
Juan Camilo Gutiérrez: My task was to coordinate the 28 teachers that took part in the program and at the same time to learn Java or database. The result was that 11 teachers became certified to teach Java Fundamentals, Java Foundations and Java Programming, and 17 teachers qualified to give classes in Database Foundations, Database Design and Programming with SQL, and Programming with PL/SQL.
Oracle Academy: Impressive. And presumably during the program, there was an actual project to work on. Can you tell us about that?
Juan Carlos Niño Maldonado: That's correct, and the project tied back to one of the initiative's drivers: students abandoning their studies. What we did was to design a database model with which to minimize the desertion of students. We built it based on the Coase theorem of efficiency as a tool for strategic decision making. To do so, we applied our learning and used Oracle SQL Developer Data Modeler to construct the database. The six Master Teachers used this tool when instructing others within the university to predict and prevent student dropouts.
Juan Carlos Niño Maldonado: We are now in the phase of implementing Oracle Academy resources throughout the university. Java and database content are being implemented in Medicine, Bacteriology, Maths, Electronic Engineering, Education, Law, International Relations, and more. We have identified Java as being the most in demand, specifically in the Faculty of Basic Sciences, and so that is the current priority.
Juan Camilo Gutiérrez: Once we became trained, the next phase was to map Oracle Academy to the object-oriented programming curriculum we had earlier instigated in Basic Sciences. After a rigorous review, we determined that 85% of Oracle Academy Java content is compatible with our curriculum. I have requested 100 accounts for students following career paths in Mechatronics, which is the integration of mechanical, electrical and electronic engineering systems. We also will apply Java content in multimedia studies.
Next semester, my faculty will be teaching the full Java Programming and Java Foundations courses to these students.
Juan Carlos Niño Maldonado: Effectively, the roll out of Java is what we call phase three of the project, but it does not stop there. We see a multitude of opportunities to make our university attractive for technology learning. Personally, I have the desire to develop a disability solution. UMNG has a small laboratory that analyzes the way people walk. I would like to create a multidisciplinary project combining engineering and medicine that uses data capture to identify angular bone joint movements and ultimately help in curing walking disabilities. Such potential solutions ― health and safety in industry as well as hospitals ― would be a concrete application of what Oracle Academy resources provide us. It is one of several projects under evaluation.
Thank you, Juan Carlos Niño Maldonado, Catherine Esteban Ojeda, and Juan Camilo Gutiérrez for your passion for Oracle Academy and for preparing your teachers and students to make a positive impact.