Making a difference with Oracle Academy
Dedicated Educators Map Curriculum and Spearhead Oracle Academy Rollout in Czech Republic
SPŠE Ječná was founded in the 19th century as the first vocational school in the territory of the Bohemian part of Austrian-Hungarian Empire. In 1949, the school was renamed to the Secondary School of Electrical Engineering in Prague (SPŠE Ječná). Seventy years later, more than 550 students ages 15-21 are enrolled in four-year courses in Information Technology and Electrical Engineering.
Some 250 of the students attend Oracle Academy technology courses, taught by nine of SPŠE Ječná’s teachers. The school was the first Czech school to join Oracle Academy and today it delivers the full range of database and programming courses.
“Right from the first day, all IT and Electrical Engineering students learn Oracle Academy Java Fundamentals, and in year two they take Java Programming,” says Mr. Ondrej Mandik, the school principal. “To move to the third year, they must have passed the Oracle Academy Java Programming exam.”
Mandik learned how to teach Oracle Academy courses in 2005, starting with Database Design and Programming with SQL. Today, he and eight other faculty continue to teach that course, the Java curriculum mentioned above, and the recently introduced course Artificial Intelligence with Machine Learning in Java.
Now, he is responsible not only for implementing Oracle Academy courses at SPŠE Ječná, but in schools throughout the Czech Republic. In 2019, Mandik became an official Oracle Academy instructor for the country, and he has created a program to train staff at 30 other vocational schools.
But, before doing so, there was a need to map the Oracle Academy curriculum offerings to the structure of Czech secondary school teaching.
Mapping Curriculum to Fit the National Framework
It took Mandik and his colleagues two years to get to the point where they could train other teachers in Oracle Academy courses. The challenge was that in Czech Republic, unlike in many other countries, there is no national curriculum to which Oracle Academy courses could be mapped. There is, instead, a national educational framework.
What this meant is that to introduce new teaching methods and courses, a school’s principal would need to rebuild the curriculum within national framework guidelines. With a strong belief in the value of Oracle Academy courses, Mandik and two other teachers spent many months studying the issue, working closely with Oracle Academy and the Ministry of Education.
In 2017, they issued a 30-page guide for integrating Oracle Academy courses into education plans for vocational schools in Czech Republic. That proposal was presented during Oracle Days in Oracle’s Prague and Brno offices. The result: 30 schools enthusiastically signed up to join Oracle Academy.
Onboarding as Oracle Academy Instructors
To train several hundred teachers across the country, Mandik and Mrs. Alena Reichlova were onboarded as official Oracle Academy instructors. They then liaised with school principals, advising them on reworking the curricula to accommodate the new technology courses.
Those courses will be delivered through an online virtual room with individual sessions for those with advanced skills.
“We find out what they are currently teaching and how best to help them improve,” says Mandik. “We deliver Oracle Academy best practice slides, explaining why they have been placed in that particular sequence, and why they are invaluable to effective computer science instruction.”
He firmly believes that using Oracle Academy curricula to teach database systems and programming saves teachers time, keeps them always up to date, and motivates students with relevance to the real world of work.
Leaving Improvements to the Experts
“One of the greatest benefits of Oracle Academy is that somebody else—not us—regularly updates and improves the course materials. That saves us so much time and means that the courses always reflect the latest innovations,” comments Reichlova.
She also notes that, as with medicine, change is so frequent in computer science that it’s not always easy to find updated information. “As an Oracle Academy member, I can access the latest announcements and developments through the virtual learning environment and never feel left behind,” she states. “This is one of the great advantages of being an Oracle Academy member institution.”
Mandik also is delighted that all the materials come in English. “We don’t want a local language version, because although we teach in the Czech language, once students start work there’s no chance of anyone translating materials, so we don’t do it either,” he points out. “We are a secondary technical vocational school preparing people for real life, where knowledge of English is necessary for communication and work within the global labor market.”
College and Career Ready
Mandik believes that the Czech Republic needs more scientists and engineers, people who innovate and create opportunities for future generations. Five years ago, 70% of SPŠE Ječná graduates went on to university; today it is 50%. In Central Europe, there is an annual shortfall of 3,000 developers, which translates to rapid employment for young people with Oracle Academy courses on their CVs.
The school principal is happy when his students find jobs, but he cautions against the lure of a good salary as opposed to continuing education that can yield longer-term benefits.
“We are happy to fill the skills gap with graduates, but also are keen on seeing them go to university and help improve the level of computer science overall,” he says. “Luckily for us, Oracle Academy courses allow us to meet both requirements.”