Oracle Academy celebrates 25 years of bringing technology education to classrooms around the globe

William McCabe, Oracle Academy Vice President and Kirstin Ward, Oracle Vice President of Employee Experience and Strategic CommunicationsDecember 22, 2022

Oracle Academy was founded 25 years ago to support Larry Ellison’s vision of deploying the company’s core technology to address an ongoing shortage of skilled IT professionals. The program started out with 150 institutions across 14 markets in the Asia Pacific region. It has since expanded worldwide.

Here, Oracle Academy Vice President, William McCabe, sits down with Oracle Vice President of Employee Experience and Strategic Communications, Kirstin Ward, to talk about the free technology education program.

Kirstin Ward: How did Oracle Academy come into being?

William McCabe: Oracle Academy launched in 1997 initially bringing technology—at first mostly hardware and software—and training to students in the Asia Pacific region. That was before my time, but a key goal was to use Oracle’s technology to bridge the digital divide.

Here we are 25 years later, having grown the effort to have a global reach. Now we work with nearly 17,000 educational institutions in 130 countries and all 50 states in the U.S. to put leading-edge Oracle technology, curriculum, and skills into the hands of educators who train the next generation of students with career-ready knowledge and skills.

Kirstin Ward: How does Oracle Academy work?

William McCabe: We engage with educators, not directly with students. Member educators can access free professional development, curriculum, and teaching and learning resources to take into the classroom. We also offer platforms, software, and support. The goal is to help educators put technology into the hands of students, starting at age 14 years, in academic environments. We want to help educators prepare young people with technology knowledge and skills for great careers across industries. Our free resources include curriculum, hands-on labs, workshops, and access to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), Oracle APEX, NetSuite, Primavera, Oracle Database, and Java.

Kirstin Ward: How can educators join Oracle Academy and access all these free teaching and learning resources?

William McCabe: There’s an easy two-step process. First, the institution needs to join—it must be a recognized educational institution or not-for-profit organization. We verify that the institution is what it says it is, and its administrator signs a membership agreement with Oracle Academy. Once your institution is a member, any administrator or educator within that institution can then join under that umbrella and have free access to our resources. Look at our Institutions and Educators page for full details.

Kirstin Ward: What are some of the more popular resources?

William McCabe: Curriculum is still number one. Faculty come for our curriculum to use in their courses because it is written by educators for educators—we don’t teach just features and functions. We’re not teaching to practitioners; we’re teaching to learners. We offer the building blocks and scaffolding for learning, but we also understand the underlying techniques and the reasons for studying them. A lot of the skills we teach are transferable, so even though you’re learning on an Oracle Database or the Java language, for instance, those skills are transferable to other databases or programming languages.

Continuous professional development for teachers also still ranks really high. Lots of teachers who are being exposed to new technologies require the training and support that Oracle Academy provides. And obviously Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) is a major benefit. The Oracle Academy Cloud Program is entirely free to sign up and gives members and students access to all of the building blocks of cloud, from compute shapes on Linux, straight through to instances of Oracle Autonomous Database and Oracle APEX.

Kirstin Ward: Considering its work over 25 years, what has the impact of Oracle Academy been on educators? Students? The tech industry? Countries around the world?

William McCabe: For the people who educate students, we provide a very strong foundation in the technology that they then take into the classroom. Having been an educator, I know that you have to be very sure of your content before you take it to a group of students, because they’re a tough audience if you don’t know what you’re talking about.

And education for students is the key that opens doors to solid and fulfilling careers across industries. With their knowledge and skills, these students are the future pipeline of technology innovators and leaders, whether that is at Oracle or elsewhere.

We are engaged with many ministries of education globally and state departments of education and technology around the world. They recognize how Oracle Academy can support their digital and educational policies, helping students close the knowledge and skills gap and drive economic growth.

Kirstin Ward: What technology trends have you seen in terms of what courses gain traction over the years?

William McCabe: Early on, interest in database was really high, and although it continued to be popular, we watched a rise in Java as everyone was getting into being developers and programmers. And now we’re seeing database being delivered across multiple university schools and departments, as working with and analyzing data is a key role in many future careers. Faculty are leveraging Oracle Academy curriculum, Oracle Autonomous Database, and Oracle APEX as part of OCI.

Oracle APEX is very popular with our members and students, as it allows users to do rapid low code development, and we always promote Java as an excellent teaching language because it gives you the depth of knowledge and very strong, transferrable programming skills.

Kirstin Ward: How does Oracle Academy’s work with educators help get graduates ready to solve the world’s biggest problems and challenges?

William McCabe: Many students are inspired through our curriculum and platforms to go out and solve problems. They’re learning the skills and the technologies that organizations need and use, and they’re aspiring to develop innovative solutions. We give them a glimpse into the reach that having Oracle skills can bring. They can take those skills to any industry or community in any country, especially if they are working virtually.

Kirstin Ward: Do you have examples to highlight this impact?

William McCabe: Absolutely! One of the biggest thrills for me is when students who have taken part in Oracle Academy coursework end up joining Oracle later in life, because I know what Oracle accomplishes around the world. But of course, Oracle Academy’s impact extends well beyond our employee base. We feature many member success stories from all over the world on our site and in our blog. In those stories, teachers talk about the impact that having access to our free resources has had in their courses, and students discuss how learning some of these key skills has had a great influence on the trajectories of their educations and careers. We also have won numerous awards, which you can see in more detail on our website.

Kirstin Ward: What does the future of the program look like?

William McCabe: We’re always broadening our basket of assets, bringing in new curriculum and new technologies such as NetSuite and Primavera. We will always be at the cutting edge, giving access to as many emerging technologies as we possibly can to get them into the hands of educators and their students at the earliest possible stage. We will continue to ensure that Oracle Academy educators deliver skills that are relevant to their local and national economic needs. And we look forward to at least 25 more years of education innovation.