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Oracle Academy Trains High School Teachers In Java, SQL

Oracle Internet Academy offers teacher training in basic Oracle technologies.
High school business teacher Shirley Williams Cash is one of more than 150 teachers signed up to become instructors for Oracle's Internet Academy, which offers teacher training in basic Oracle technologies. She's just completed two weeks of intensive training on SQL and Java at Oracle headquarters in Redwood Shores, Calif. Now, Cash can teach database and Internet courses to her students at Osbourn High School in Manassas, Va. Because they live near major offices of America Online, Lockheed Martin, and Oracle, her students want careers in IT. "This gives them valuable skills to build upon," she says.

Oracle has high hopes for the new program, too. It's investing around $400,000 per school for teacher training, including an eight-week E-learning course before the on-campus experience, as well as servers and related hardware, the database, and hosting the SQL programming environment.

Oracle expects the program to be good for its public image, and with the Information Technology Association of America projecting continued IT labor shortages in certain skills despite the economic downturn, early training may seed the future ranks of Oracle database workers. The academy was a pilot program for 30 schools last year; it goes into full deployment this fall.

The question of effectiveness remains open because businesses and schools have very different cultures: Business needs change rapidly, while schools take longer to adapt. "Four or five years ago, people convinced their school boards to spend a lot of money wiring schools, but already it's not sufficient," says Chris Amirault, director of Brown University's Institute for Elementary and Secondary Education. "Some schools will happily take job-skills training, but it's different from what most schools need."

Schools pay for Internet access, and for the first two years each school pays Oracle $6,000 to offset some costs. Each course requires 96 hours, beginning with database fundamentals and introduction to SQL, and leading to certification for Java programming and database apps. A range of business courses are also offered to broaden its scope. While the program is promoted mostly to high schools, it's also being offered to selected community colleges for adults already in the workforce.