I am Jon Oleaga associate professor at IE University Madrid, Spain, where I teach Digital Marketing, Technology Trends, Project Management, and Web Development.
I am also the promoter of certifications in the school of humanities and technology, or HST. In addition to teaching, I also write at ABC, a Spanish national newspaper, about technology, and I teach classes related to digital transformation in other schools, such as Westfield Business School or the USD. Also, I am an ICEX consultant, and I do consultancy around digital transformation, from the application of technology as such, to agile methodologies and structures. ICEX is the Spanish trade institute, so it covers all types of companies that want to sell their products abroad, but above all, I work with the Institute's technology or internet companies.
Why I got into teaching Technology
I am a staunch defender of technology, which pervades every level of the company, and which everyone should master. I'm lucky and I can learn at congresses, which is a wonderful place to learn technology directly from the vendor, like the Microsoft Build, of which I am a huge fan. But I also want to validate this knowledge acquired through certifications such as the AZ-900 and AI-900.
After many years working in big companies like Vocento or Bankinter on the cloud, innovation, and marketing roles, I realized that the biggest problem for almost all managers and workers was the same, technology, of any kind, even at the most basic level was totally alien to them. How nowadays you cannot know what a server is, how it works, differentiate between a public or private network and the company's cloud architecture, or know what it means to use one framework or another. Technology is no longer a tool that enables your business, but probably represents the competitive advantage that differentiates you from the rest. Technology has gone from being a hammer to the engine of the business model, whoever is not able to understand it is out of the market. That is why I have defended certifications as a way to democratize technological knowledge. We are teaching Azure Fundamentals, the AZ-900, which gives the student a basic understanding of the cloud, like managing a server, and a language that they will need to speak to the IT department and on the strategy of his/her company.
We focus on Applied learning
At IE University we want our students to learn about technology in an applied way. I am not in favor of teaching theory in class because I believe that everything today can be learned by doing, there are thousands of practical exercises online, and Microsoft's own blog describes many interesting cases to do in class. Many of my students have no previous technical experience, but still, there are many things we can do in class using intelligent Apps from Azure or Power Apps, where we can get to make extraordinarily complex applications without the need for code, just worrying about what it really matters, to learn. For example, I really like doing the Titanic exercise where the students must use AI and Big Data Titanic Survivors | Azure AI Gallery, to find out the probability they would have had of surviving the sinking if they had been there, it is an exercise that has been around for a few years, but with which students understand very well what is big data, and how technology can be used on 108 years old case, or image recognition exercises to improve a process of business, or sentiment listening, seeking user opinions about a certain brand, using AI and natural language recognition to understand the user's mood. Some of the students' image recognition projects were, for example, recognizing smoke in a forest to be able to warn foresters, or a mole tracking system, to know which ones required the attention of an expert and which did not, another remarkably interesting project allowed to take a photo of any formula to find the corresponding book in the university library.
One of the valuable players in the cloud ecosystem is Microsoft, we want students to learn technology that they are highly likely to find in their future work. That is why we have started teaching Azure Fundamentals, within the courses closest to technology. The AZ-900 certifications have been included in the students' own teaching program in cloud computing subjects, which in addition to giving the class with the usual program, it has been possible to take advantage of the content and labs of Microsoft Learn to enrich the experience. Students get extra score/credits if they pass the certification, which motivates them to study, but we do not force them to pass the exam to pass the course. In this way, the certification is integrated into the class, giving the student freedom of choice. Now, in this first phase, we have included a few courses in the program, but the result has been exceptionally good, 100% of the students have passed, and I think for them, getting an extra certificate with the same effort that supposes passing the cloud computing class, it is a great added value.
Our current plan is to continue expanding the certifications to other courses, and in addition to the AZ-900 to offer other certificates, such as the AI-900 in the more technical careers that require it.
My advice to all teachers is to look for practical resources Online, in blogs, papers, students will feel more motivated with a real story and clear instructions. The self-contained labs that include the certifications also allow students to test every aspect of the cloud, from their computers and experience the technology for themselves. In addition, they are easily accessible from Learn and can be repeated as many times as deemed appropriate.
Daniella Duarte, second-year BIS student of IE: "AZ-900 for me was more than just a certificate to put on my CV, it was a course that changed my perspective on Cloud Computing and opened my mind in ways I had never thought possible. I learned so much and knowing I could use the knowledge I was learning into practice in the future motivated me so much!! I genuinely enjoyed the process of getting the AZ-900"
Luis Gonzalez, second-year BIS student: "Getting the AZ-900 certificate helped me in many ways. First, it helped me to be more conscious in what stage we are at when talking about cloud computing and what can it be done thanks to platforms such as Microsoft Azure. It has also helped me automating processes in my own startup and offer our clients our services in the cloud".