Oracle University and playing

So I spent all of last week in a grid class. It was my first exposure to Oracle University. The class was interesting. I was one of three Oracle employees in the class, everyone else forked over major bucks for the class. A few of them were local but the majority of the people were from out of town. After the first day I realized that this could be an interesting class or this could be a total waste of time. The instructor started by trashing the course material and going on and on about how this is his second career and he would not be teaching this class if he didn’t need the health insurance.

Is this what things have come to? People who are over the hill or not motivated enough are assigned to teach important topics? I already think at all teachers should make twice what they currently make and be give the summer off with education credits to continue training during the summer. I got certified to teach at University of Phoenix and have taught a total of one workshops. I’m not allowed to call them classrooms because classrooms are for learning and instruction. Workshops are where students get together and teach each other. My official title is a facilitator, not a professor, not an instructor, not a teacher, a facilitator.

I was openly dissapointed with the grid class that I took because it did not teach us how to install, configure, or troubleshoot the product. It gave us the basics and showed us the options on what to select and look at from screen to screen. There was very little programming or customization that was done as part of this class.

The reasoning for the weak class was twofold. First, the hardware used to teach the class is substandard. It seems like 12 people at $3K a classroom would warrant some better hardware. The instructors probably only got paid $5K for the week so what does the other $31K go to? In my opinion the class should be hands on and have adequate resources to teach everything about the subject. I should know how to make the product perform backflips and do things that the designers would question and ask why do I want it to do this function? What I got out of the class was how to be an operator of the software.

The second reason the class was weak was that there was no hands on labs. The labs were simplistic and did not expand my knowledge of the product beyond the manuals. The class should teach how to customize and configure the product. We were not allowed to install the software because it required a database and an application server. The instructor was very literate and informative about the database. When a question came up about the application server, he pleaded the fifth and sounded like Seargent Shultz from Hogans Heros…. “I know nothing, I see nothing”. In my opinion, this class should have been taught by two different instructors. The first two days database focus, the second two days, application server focus.

The instructor was second rate. The documents that he handed out to us were whitepapers that have been on the web for a few months. The summary sheets that he gave looked like his notes that he took when he sat through the class the first time. I feel bad for those that paid for the class. Fortunately, Oracle has a 100% guarantee so everyone who took this class qualifies for a second one of their choice for free.

The root cause of this problem? Money. More money for labs, more money for teachers/instructors, and better labs that take you from start to finished production quality deployment. I would perfer something inside a VMWare instance so that it could be written to DVDs and taken home. Something like this would really be of value and provide a preconfigured playground for someone who is rolling this out in production.

Ok, I’ve ranted enough. Fortunately, I was able to get supplemental reading material and make the best use of my time. The biggest benefit for me was time to research and play. I made time for that as well as time to see some of the nicer places in Chicago. If you haven’t gone there, I recommend spending some time inside the loop or near the Navy Pier unless of course it is winter time……

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