At Microsoft we’re inspired by the faculty at universities, community colleges, and polytechnics around the globe who leverage Microsoft curriculum and teaching materials to prepare students for certifications in Microsoft Azure. These faculty members are working to support their students as they seek to enter the workforce as cloud-ready professionals. Cyrus Chun Yin Wong is one such inspirational and innovative faculty of cloud technologies. He’s a data scientist and acting senior lecturer in the Department of Information Technology at the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (IVE) (Lee Wai Lee) and he is the program leader of IT114115 Higher Diploma in Cloud and Data Centre Administration which integrates Microsoft curriculum to prepare students to take four Azure certification exams.
As an educator who’s always searching for ways to help his students to stand out and prove their cutting-edge cloud abilities, Wong is no stranger to collaborating with industry. He couldn’t wait to be a part of Microsoft Learn for Educators. He was immediately impressed with the edge that being in Microsoft Learn for Educators gave him—both as he recruited students into his program and then as he trained students and encouraged them to get certifications so they could graduate from his program skilled up and ready to join the workforce. He points out, “In APAC [Asia-Pacific], nearly all enterprises are Microsoft customers, and they often chose to migrate their platforms to the Azure cloud. So we are very happy to move to Microsoft Learn for Educators and provide Azure to all IT114115 students.”
Getting certifications, doing good, and having fun
Wong is a firm believer in certifications because employers are looking for students with industry-recognized credentials. He has four Azure certifications himself. He also challenges his students to earn them. One student, Mei Ching Pearly Jean Law, passed the three fundamentals exams for Azure in one day. When his students surpassed their goal of achieving 100 certifications by this summer, he challenged the group to earn an additional 100 certifications within 24 hours. They achieved this goal by taking the Azure fundamentals exams. Wong is very proud of his students’ accomplishments—220 certifications within two months. As a part of their celebration of this achievement, Wong’s students combined all of their Azure certifications into a wall of fame using Deep Zoom.
In addition to earning certifications, Wong encourages students to put the cloud technology skills they’ve gained in his courses to use by entering contests or creating special projects. His students won the Popular Choice award at the 2021 Global Azure AI Hackathon. They had learned the Azure cognitive API and Azure skills in the Azure AI and Azure fundamentals courses. They worked on solving a serious problem—getting computers to poor students who request them. They used Azure Cognitive Services to create the iShare Donation Platform, which quickly matches donors, students, and volunteers, by using AI, and renders an order of distribution based on need. There are plans for the platform to be released with a Microsoft Hong Kong staff volunteer team and a nongovernmental organization (NGO) in Hong Kong.
A smart business decision
Wong sees choosing Microsoft Learn for Educators as a smart business decision. He says, “Two key performance indicators (KPIs) drive the reason for choosing a company and taking its courses. One is promoting your course to secondary school students. It is easy to promote our courses saying we provide cloud computing from Microsoft. Those students use Microsoft Office and Windows. They know Microsoft. The other KPI is the placement of graduates. A lot of companies in the Microsoft Partner Network now come looking for us to find graduates with formal Azure training. Many industries in Hong Kong use Microsoft.”
A curriculum that prepares students for the real world
Wong uses Azure learning paths and other course materials from Microsoft Learn in his classes: “It’s especially important for students to have knowledge of cloud computing to be able to complete their daily tasks.” He also appreciates that Microsoft Learn keeps its course materials up to date.
His students love the lab exercises. For students in the program, Microsoft provides a lot of lab exercises for free. Wong observes, “Students don’t need to use a credit card.” His students want “more lab, less lecture.” For Wong, this is a major differentiator between Microsoft and other offerings. He explains, “To do something in IT, you need to practice. Employers want someone to do it—not talk about it.”
If students are working on an exercise but don’t understand it, they’ll return to the course materials. According to Wong, the students really appreciate the self-paced materials from Microsoft Learn, which allow them to work independently. He adds that students like using the step-by-step content—more advanced students can move along very quickly, and those who need more theory can go back and read more.
Graduating a cloud-ready workforce
The first interview question that many tech recruiters ask is, “Do you have experience using the cloud?” This puts Wong’s students at an advantage because, as he reports, “We are the only school providing Azure training in Hong Kong.” He observes that most of the students in Hong Kong have “zero experience using any cloud.” His students who have earned their Azure Fundamentals certification can prove to employers that they know cloud basics. In addition, Wong has discovered that students who have the Azure Administrator Associate certification are actually sought out by companies. He’s very happy to offer these cloud skills and certifications to his students through Microsoft Learn for Educators.
Many enterprises in APAC and around the globe are Azure customers so they need an Azure-trained workforce. In addition, Microsoft partners in Hong Kong and around the globe want to recruit students with Azure knowledge and certifications. Commercial training is expensive, and partners need to have a certain number of employees who have earned Microsoft Certifications. Wong believes that the best approach to meet this need is to recruit and hire first-class students who were taught by faculty and attend schools that are a part of Microsoft Learn for Educators and who have achieved tech certifications that validate their skills.
Wong has a way of absorbing and delivering new technical content that inspires students and other educators. He’s building great excitement around using Microsoft Learn for Educators. And he’s growing a program that encourages students to create projects using the Azure technologies he’s teaching, take as many Azure certification exams as possible, and prepare for future success with a career in the modern cloud world.