In developing our online training program, we really wanted to maximize the student experience. We wanted to provide a real classroom-like experience that would cater to all types of learning styles, whether auditory, visual, or kinesthetic. Many of the online programs out there, especially those that only provide PowerPoint slides with voice-over instruction, don’t work for a lot of students. So we set out to create a real, authentic classroom environment that would foster collaboration and communication between teachers and students, that would foster collaboration between students and students, and that would create an alumni network so that when a student got hired, they could promote and recruit their friends and help each other throughout their careers.
And that’s what we’ve done. We’ve created a hybrid professional development program. It’s a course that normally would cost $40,000 to $50,000 per student, but we are able to deliver it for the pay that the average graduate from our program will make in one to two days after graduating.
We do it by taking advantage of a content delivery framework known as Thinkific. It is a great ready-made, customizable platform for serving static content that we love for its ability to hold our student content and to give us unlimited bandwidth to serve our content. We record all of our teaching videos at 4k, using studio production cameras, studio lighting, professional audio, and studio microphones as if we’re going to deliver a full-scale presentation. We use a full-scale production studio for our recordings. Then have them all professionally edited. They are not PowerPoint slides with voice-over. These are real teachers, captured while presenting real training. Our trainers deliver their teaching just like they are speaking to a classroom of students, and we capture it in videos.
While the quality classroom content is a big part of our program, it is still just a part. We also have created a Slack environment with specialty channels for each one of our classes where we enable users to communicate and collaborate with each other. We teach classes on video and supplement the teaching with information that we post on Slack. Our students also post information on Slack and break out into workgroups with each other on Slack. The hybrid platform allows for people from all corners of the world to work together.
Additionally, we teach live classes via Zoom. We provide three live classes per week in one of our programs and two live classes per week in another program. It is a hybrid approach that allows our students to learn from our videos on demand, to work together via communications and collaboration, and to have live classes via Zoom. During live lectures, students can ask us questions and we answer students’ questions, which builds a sense of community and gives students the benefits of live question and answer sessions.
In between classes, we have our students do projects. We are providing professional development for students who are becoming cloud architects. So we need to build people that have great leadership skills, great communication skills, great presentation skills, executive presence skills, emotional intelligence, and technical competency as well in the area of cloud architecture design. To accomplish this, we have students do projects that involve them attending a class or viewing video content, then preparing and delivering a video presentation, for which we provide feedback via Slack.
Throughout this process, we’re constantly communicating with our students. They come to a live class. After the live class, they go home ,and they do the videos on-demand that are part of our program. Then they do homework assignments and projects, for which we give them feedback.
Finally, the students involved in our training program also have access to a data center that we have built. It provides our own laboratory environment where our students can connect to an actual data center and do everything necessary to get the hands-on skills that they will need to be great at their careers. It is a special environment for teaching the kind of skills that people couldn’t learn if they worked in a traditional cloud environment.
Overall, our program provides an environment that gives students real hands-on experience, real deep knowledge, leadership skills, communication skills, emotional intelligence skills, and an alumni network. When the students begin their job search, they practice interviewing each other using our expert interview tactics. They also collaborate with each other on their resumes via our resume training.
The point of everything we do is to build a community. We post to social media every day. We encourage our Slack community to follow and see what we’re doing because the things that we post are things that our students seem to need. We facilitate and post a tremendous number of live question-and-answer sessions. It’s all about creating an authentic experience.
Outside of the classroom, we do a tremendous number of team-building exercises, many of which focus on bringing goodwill to the world. For example, right now we have 50 students from our program who are volunteering in Sub Saharan Africa teaching cloud computing. We encourage our students to co-author articles and books with us. We even connect our students with a network of recruiters. We literally do everything necessary to engage with our students, get them building relationships with each other, and foster a sense of teamwork.
And of course, our team of instructors does the same thing. We are on Slack every day messaging with our students, all with the goal of giving our students the best chances for success.
Michael Gibbs is the CEO of Go Cloud Careers, a global organization that provides training for elite cloud computing careers. Go Cloud Careers is focused on helping individuals achieve their dream technology career by getting hired. Michael has 25 years of experience in networking, cloud computing, and IT security.