Member Success Stories

Making a difference with Oracle Academy

Lianhua Chi, Richard Skarbez and Henry Duh

The spotlight is on Henry Duh, Richard Skarbez and Lianhua Chi, La Trobe University, Australia

La Trobe is in the top 1%* of universities worldwide and ranked #45* among the world’s best young universities. It is also focused on creating work-ready graduates, with curriculums constantly updated to keep pace with workplace practice, resulting in 87.8% of graduates securing work within four months.

The Computer Science and Information Technology Department offers several Bachelor degrees in IT and engineering through blended delivery as well as at campuses in Bundoora, Bendigo, Sydney, and at the Chisholm Institute in Dandenong. The department has three intakes of students per year, numbering 2,000 in total. All students, whether undergraduate or postgraduate, take Database Fundamentals, and a majority also take Object-Oriented Programming Fundamentals, La Trobe’s introduction to the Java subject.

These courses are closely aligned with the Oracle Academy curriculum for Java and database.

We met with three key members of the Computer Science and Information Technology department to discuss the Oracle Academy partnership:

  • Head of Department, Professor Henry Duh, expounds on La Trobe’s focus on industry-relevant learning.
  • Dr. Richard Skarbez, Lecturer in Interactive Visualization, highlights the importance of object-oriented programming.
  • Dr. Lianhua Chi, Lecturer in Information Technology, summarizes the database learning path.

In 2021, the university started using the Oracle Cloud offered free through Oracle Academy, a platform fully supporting the academic backgrounds of the three speakers: Duh specialized in virtual reality; Skarbez in human interaction with immersive technologies; and Chi has a dual degree in Machine Learning and Data Mining.

Oracle Academy: What is behind your partnership with Oracle Academy?

Henry Duh: Our philosophy at La Trobe is to make students job ready, and therefore our learning and teaching content should be up-to-date and feed into industry needs. Since Oracle is the leader in its field, we have adapted our Database Fundamentals and Java Programming curriculum to align with Oracle Academy resources.

Richard Skarbez: We emphasize programming, and Java in particular, because for any job going forward you will be better positioned if you have data and programming skills. Programming is not its own thing anymore, something to be siloed off. If you want to be an artist, a sports analyst, a physiotherapist – almost anything – you’ll be better off with some basic programming skills.

Oracle Academy: What resources do you use for Java programming at La Trobe?


Our philosophy at La Trobe is to make students job ready.

Richard Skarbez: Historically we had three entry points to programming: a course in C, an overview of Python, and an introduction to Java.

Currently we are streamlining our curriculum into object-oriented programming, aligned to Oracle Academy curriculum. In 2021, everyone coming into the Bachelor of Computer Science program will take a subject named Object-Oriented Programming Fundamentals.

The subject will be divided into two modules. A four-week module will introduce object-oriented tools and concepts, such as source code management. The second, eight-week module, is Object-Oriented Programming in Java, and is almost directly taken from the Oracle Academy Java Foundations curriculum.

Oracle Academy: And for students who want to make a vocation out of programming?

Richard Skarbez: For those students, we have a course called Intermediate Object-Oriented Programming in Java. This is the course that is really going to prepare our students for the cutting-edge programming as it’s done in the real world. It draws heavily on Oracle Academy’s Java Programming curriculum and includes topics from the Oracle Academy Education Bytes series, such as functional programming or Lambda functions.

Our aim is to constantly monitor industry real-world needs and leverage Oracle Academy resources accordingly.

Oracle Academy: And does the same go for teaching database skills?

Lianhua Chi: As with Java, every student will be taking our backbone course, Database Fundamentals. It’s almost identical to the Oracle Academy Database Foundations curriculum, focusing on relational database analysis, design, and implementation.

To reiterate what Richard said, students with data and programming skills are going to be well positioned in their careers. Database Fundamentals is project-based, providing real-world scenarios. After completing third-year industry projects, students will be able to design and build a database.

We also teach a simplified version of the course to students from other disciplines, Business or Digital Health students for example. These are undergrads who want a fundamental knowledge of data – how to get it out, store it, do simple analysis.

Furthermore, La Trobe offers Database Management courses – for which we also draw substantially on Oracle Academy materials. Our next step will be to move into database design.

Oracle Academy: Do you also prepare students for Oracle professional certification?

Henry Duh: The reason we are using Oracle Academy resources is in response to meet industry needs for work-ready students. That causes us to map our curriculum both to Oracle’s leading technology and to Oracle certification requirements. That certification also ties into the Australian national qualifications framework.

Our goal is to educate people to carry digital knowledge into the workplace, and offer enough learning content to cover the whole IT spectrum required by industry.

Richard Skarbez: We are making students aware of the extra weight their resumés will carry by showing Oracle professional certification in job interviews. Object-Oriented Programming in Java will prepare them for entry level programming positions and help them obtain the Oracle Foundations Associate Certification, Java. If we do it right, they’ll get jobs.

Thank you, Professor Duh, Dr. Skarbez and Dr. Chi, for your passion for Oracle Academy and for preparing your students to make a positive impact.


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