Making a difference with Oracle Academy
The spotlight is on Mark Mensah, computer science instructor, University of Ghana
Mark Atta Mensah is a computer science instructor at the University of Ghana, in Accra, the capital. He holds Master of Philosophy in Computer Science from that same university. Formerly, he was an instructor at BlueCrest University College, a business, technology, and fashion institute.
Mensah teaches computing skills using Oracle Academy curriculum. As a graduate teaching assistant in 2015, he became trained in Database, Design and Programming with SQL, and Java Programming. Later he applied those skills at jobs in industry before taking up teaching.
In 2019, he was appointed official trainer for Oracle Academy in Ghana.
Oracle Academy: How did you first encounter Oracle Academy?
Mark Mensah: During my graduate studies, the computer science department identified me as a potential faculty. When Oracle Academy staged a five-day workshop in 2016, I was assigned to take the training and use it to translate the knowledge into our own curriculum.
It was easy to assimilate, because after graduation and before returning as a teacher, I worked in industry as a programmer and a software developer. I used Oracle database as well as other tools. Today, that background helps me adapt the Oracle Academy curriculum to meet departmental requirements and transfer knowledge to the students.
Oracle Academy: What parts of the curriculum do you teach?
Mark Mensah: Currently, I teach Database Fundamentals and Java Programming, and I am adding Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning with Java.
The thing I love about the Oracle Academy curriculum is the organized nature of the content, and the Oracle Academy platform is the perfect environment for teaching it. The best part is that students get hands-on experience using Oracle APEX to write their SQL queries and codes.
Oracle Academy: Can you tell us about the bootcamps you run during holidays?
Mark Mensah: Yes, When school is out of sessions, in the long holiday of July through September, I run bootcamp workshops for up to 55 kids. They have become very popular because I have a passion for improving teaching and, in all modesty, students sign up quickly for my classes. I whet their appetite at both Ghana and BlueCrest University, and in the holidays, they are hungry for more. It would be great if there were another 20 of me—then we could affect a whole generation!
Oracle Academy: Well, that’s what you do in the train the trainer sessions! What is the plan for training other teachers?
Mark Mensah: There’s a great demand for Oracle Academy learning in Ghana. Once the world is back to the new normal, I’m hoping to be able to train 30 faculty at different universities and places of higher education. It’s exhilarating!
Oracle Academy: Have you been able to continue teaching your students via distance learning?
Mark Mensah: Yes, currently, I am using a video conferencing platform to connect my students, to give them a near-classroom experience. Because it’s online, I’m able to share the Oracle Academy platform for hands-on SQL practice precisely as if they were in the classroom. I assign them tasks, and later I write SQL scripts to retrieve their performance. It works well!
Oracle Academy: Lastly, what activities do you do outside of the university?
Mark Mensah: Well, right now, our baby son has changed my way of looking at life. However, beyond teaching and home, I like to influence every space I’m in with technology.
For example, I’m very involved in my church, and I’ve been providing tools and support for conducting services online. I’m open to every new technology and have just discovered new networking technology, which will help bring Internet access to rural and remote areas. What we lack in Ghana is proper connectivity. If we can establish that, then the Internet of Things and other data science revolutions will have a great impact on our economy.
Thank you, Mark Mensah, for your passion for Oracle Academy and for preparing your students to make a positive impact.