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.