Microsoft Certification and Education leading to Employment

Published Jul 16 2021 01:12 PM 1,920 Views
Microsoft

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My name is Gaurav Malik and I have recently been inducted into the MSLE Educator Ambassador  programme.  I am a Senior Lecturer in Computer Science and Informatics at the University of East London.  I am the course leader of BSc(Hons) Cloud Computing and MSc Cloud Computing.  I run a module called Cloud Computing which is included in several MSc courses we run.  The module is cloud agnostic and I try to give students a flavour of all the various cloud platforms. 

 

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https://www.uel.ac.uk/postgraduate/courses/msc-computer-science

 

In Computing we have seen Technological Developments taking place in the following areas:

  • Growth of Cloud
  • Use of AI
  • VR, AR & UHD
  • Cyber Security
  • Mobile

These are all topics which are covered within our courses.

 

Driving Impact through partnership with MSLE – student employability

 I am firm believer in certification.  Certifications validate skills and also pave the way for a higher salary.  Including certifications within modules are a cherry on the cake, as in most cases students would have covered most of the academic part of the certification and have had hands on experience in doing the labs. 

Various reports have also highlighted University and Skills Gap [1]  the areas highlighted for concern were:

  • Skills Preparedness Lacking
  • Opportunity for Greater Collaboration
  • Plans to Invest in Reskilling
  • Adapting to New Technology
  • Budget Constraints a Challenge

Universities need to ensure that courses are relevant, this applies both to students and staff.

Course

Students

Staff

Industry connection

Professional Accreditations

Vendor Qualifications

Internships

Hackathons

Placements

Training

Research

 

For that reason, over last year I have started including certifications into the course.  We are offering Azure Fundamentals AZ-900 certifications to our students. We encourage our students to take other vendor certifications within the course.  The certification was over and above what the students needed to pass the module.  As the students had already studied the content, taking the certification was an easy next step. Microsoft has an excellent suite of certifications and Azure for Student offering which help students climb up the ladder and demonstrate their skills for beginner to expert.  These certifications can help students choose a niche area in which to specialize which can help with their employability.

 

The resources we used for certification preparation were Microsoft Learn and MeasureUp practice tests.  The Azure Fundamentals AZ-900 course of Microsoft Learn was aligned to the certification but also had hands on labs so students could practice.  In certifications like Microsoft Azure Fundamentals there is a lot of terminology to cover.  The labs were run in a sandbox which meant students could get their “hand dirty” without using Azure credits.  The other useful resource we had was MeasureUp.  In the past we used MeasureUp as a exam preparation tool, in the current run we allowed students to use MeasureUp alongside their studies so they could test their knowledge.

 

While replacing certification with assessment may seem challenging.  Certification exams can form part of the assessment process.  Students are then able to achieve academic credits alongside certification which can help them in their employment journey.  While their academic qualifications can help them get shortlisted, having a certification can help them get the job and stand out from the competition. Badging can also be used to showcase themselves on social media and on professional networks like LinkedIn.

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In the current run of the course students had the option to take the AZ-900 certification it was not a requirement of passing the course.  Due to the additional resources required in proctoring the exam including the certification may be challenging.  What we will be doing however is to take the MeasureUp results as part of the assessment.   As students get confident in MeasureUp they will be encouraged to take the certification as their success in MeasureUp will be reflected in the exam.

 

The AZ-900 modules were a core part of the module.  Two weeks were dedication to talking about Azure during which the learning modules were covered. We had around 10 students taking the exam out of which 4 passed.  We will be increasing this number to 50.  We will also be asking the teaching staff to take the certification which will help them get recognition as well.

 

Plan Forward

The long term plan will be to push the AZ-900 certification to Under Graduate students.  We would also like our UG students to take other fundamentals exams so they have a strong foundation in Azure technologies.  For the Masters student we would like to offer them Associate certification.

 

  1. https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2018/06/28/1531112/0/en/Workday-and-Bloomberg-Next-Study-... 

 

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