Implementing DA-100 certification into a cloud data course
Published Jul 12 2021 07:36 AM 1,627 Views

Guest post by Derek Foster, Associate Professor in Computer Science at University of Lincoln, Microsoft Learn Educator Ambassador.



The School of Computer Science at the University of Lincoln is launching its new MSc Cloud Computing programme in October 2021. The programme is focused on providing students with the conceptual knowledge and practical skillsets to succeed in roles such as Cloud Administrators, Cloud Developers, and Cloud Data Analysts. The overarching cloud technology abstractions that are taught on the course are compute, networking, and storage. Each of these areas is taught within a distinct academic course, with some overlap with other courses as part of the programme as shown below:





An understanding of data is critical for students on the programme, as data is the driving force behind most applications and business processes. Students must understand the different types of data such as structured and unstructured and the cloud storage technologies where the data can be securely stored, processed, and analysed. As well as storing the data, being able to effectively analyse data to provide meaningful insights is a powerful skillset, and one that is often missing from Computing programmes where the emphasis is normally solely on the data types and storage technologies, instead of analysis. The focus of this blog post is to demonstrate how implementing the DA-100 certification learning materials and exam into an academic cloud data course can provide students with both data storage and analytical skillsets to meet the needs of industry.

Cloud data aims of the programme

Data storage is a fundamental component of IT systems, applications, and devices, with the volume of data generated increasing significantly every year. Cloud storage platforms provide a means to store and process vast volumes of structured and unstructured data that enable large scale analytics for insights. The Cloud Data Platforms & Tools course that is part of the MSc Cloud Computing programme at Lincoln explores cloud-based relational and non-relational databases, how data is managed and processed, such as transactional processing, batch, and streaming data processing., and data analytics. Learning such data technologies will give students the opportunity to learn industry-transferable skills and will have hands-on access to the Microsoft Azure platform.

The syllabus of the course is listed below:

  • Database management systems
  • On-premise vs. Cloud data platforms and tools
  • Cloud data storage – blobs/buckets
  • Relational data
  • Non-relational data
  • High-availability and disaster recovery
  • Data encryption and security
  • Data policies and governance
  • Transactional, batch, and stream processing
  • Data analytics

The overarching aim of the course is to give students the opportunity to learn about data types, cloud storage services and tools, and data analytics, all of which are covered in the syllabus.  The data analytics component will provide students with opportunities to learn how to optimally query large datasets using a variety of language tools such as SQL, R, and Python. Additionally, students will learn about RESTful APIs and how to use them for querying and manipulating data. Data visualization will also be taught through using tools such as Power BI, where students can visualize meaningful insights from the queried data.

DA-100 Certification

The University of Lincoln is a strong advocate of giving students the opportunity to take Microsoft certifications alongside its degree programmes, and align certifications to academic courses where appropriate to do so. Examples of the Microsoft certification courses currently taken by students at Lincoln are AZ-900 Microsoft Azure Fundamentals, AI-900 Microsoft AI Fundamentals, and DP-900 Microsoft Azure Data Fundamentals. The next level up for Microsoft certifications are of the type role-based associate level, a brief overview of the DA-100 role-based course is shown below and can  be accessed here.




Given the experience Lincoln has with offering Microsoft certification to students, it was decided the MSc Cloud Computing programme would implement specific Microsoft role-based certifications for academic credit in two courses. In the diagram below, the role-based certifications for AZ-104 and DA-100 are implemented in the Cloud Computing & Administration and Cloud Data Platforms & tools courses respectively for academic credit. Additionally, the AZ-900 and DP900 Fundamentals courses are also offered as extra-curricular activities if students wish to pursue them. These two Fundamentals courses are well aligned with the outcomes of the aforementioned academic courses.




The Cloud Data Platforms & Tools course will be delivered over 12 weeks, with the DA-100 course materials delivered in the first 6 weeks with associated practical labs/exercises. The remaining 6 weeks of the course will be focused on data concepts and cloud data resources. The DA-100 exam will be part of the course with 50% of available academic credit allocated to it, with the remaining 50% of credit allocated to academic coursework. In summary, students will be assessed with both industry certification exams and academic coursework.


Lincoln and Microsoft working together

Lincoln will work closely with Microsoft’s cloud advocate team to ensure best practices when implementing DA-100 inside the Cloud Data Platforms & Tools course. Tapping into the expertise of Microsoft’s cloud advocates will also help ensure students have a great experience on the course to develop their cloud data analytics knowledge and skills. Of particular interest is students having access to large datasets for analysis in Power BI, a valuable skillset to take into the workforce. The learning materials available for role-based certification courses include slidedecks, Microsoft Learn pathways and lab exercises. These learning resources can be carefully implemented inside the academic course so that they complement the academic theory and concepts, giving students a robust learning experience covering both academic and industry perspectives.


Future of Certifications at Lincoln

Microsoft Certifications will continue to play an important part of the student experience at Lincoln, with DA-100 the latest certification of interest for our students. We have standardized the use of the Microsoft Fundamentals courses and exams as official extra-curricular activities and are actively exploring the potential to implement more role-based certifications across our post-graduate programme portfolio.



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