Building new hands-on labs and improving our existing labs is a major focus of Cloud Academy for 2017 and beyond. If you search “types of adult learning,” you will get approximately 16.9 gazillion hits. Many will boast about how they meet the needs of a certain type of learner (up to 70 different types)! Regardless, the common thread in most of these articles is the importance of kinesthetic learning (also known as experiential or tactile learning). For most of us, actually doing something is key to transitioning concepts from short- to long-term memory. This is especially true when it comes to technical subject matter.
Cloud Academy holds customer feedback in very high regard. This feedback has been essential as we continue to improve our hands-on labs. For example, some of you said that the diagram for the lab was very helpful in understanding what to do in the lab. This got us thinking, How could we improve the format of our labs to provide a better user experience? Today, I’m excited to share some of the major changes that we have already started implementing in both new and existing labs. Let’s take a look.
Lab Landing Page
The goal of the landing page is to give you a good idea of what you are getting into when you click the “Start Lab” button. The new landing page contains the following sections:
- Overview: This contains the high-level information you need to know about the lab.
- Objectives: Task-based objectives show you what you will be able to do once you have completed the lab.
- Prerequisites: Usually speaks to prerequisite knowledge, but sometimes includes required software.
- Lab Environment Diagrams: These provide a high-level view of the lab environment. The diagrams help you understand which services are used in the lab:
- Before diagram (optional): What the lab environment will look like after you click “Start Lab”, but before you complete any instructions. Sometimes Cloud Academy builds assets for you to help streamline the learning experience.
- After diagram (mandatory): What you will build by following the instructions in each step of the lab.
The following are examples of before and after diagrams from the Continuous Integration and Deployment with AWS Code Services lab.
Lab Steps are the heart of the lab. They are now broken into three sections:
- Introduction: This section tells you what you will be doing in the lab and includes an overview of key services and topics.
- Instructions: Detailed guidance for completing each task, often with the aid of screenshots. (Especially for our beginner and intermediate level labs. We listened to our visual learners too! )
- Summary: A quick wrap up that focuses on the salient points of the Lab Step.
Lab Steps are not meant to repeat the more robust information contained within a Cloud Academy Learning Path or Course, nor the exhaustive cloud provider’s documentation set. Rather, a Lab Step introduces you to the task at hand, leads you through completing it, then quickly reminds you of a few key points that you just learned.
Important! These labs are designed to teach you not just what to do, but also why, because you will need to be able to apply the knowledge in the real world. So, although you may be tempted to jump straight to the Instructions… don’t! The other sections are brief to guard against wasting time, but they help provide important context. If you perform the Instructions without reading the other sections you may be reduced to simply mimicking and run the risk of wondering “why am I doing this again?”
Format for Instructions
It’s worth taking a moment longer to familiarize yourself with the main conventions adopted for Instructions within a Lab Step. No matter who the Cloud Academy developer is, the end result is stylistically consistent in order to improve the learning experience. Here are the key conventions that we employ to provide a similar look and feel for each lab:
- User Interface (UI) elements are bold: This will help you identify sections or individual parts of the UI. (Example: Click Next then Create Cluster to…)
- What you should enter is in italics: This usually refers to a field within a form. (Widget Name: MyWidgetName. Description: The Widget will be used to…)
- Short in-line commands are in
code-font.For example: Use the
lscommand to make sure the configuration file is in your local directory.
- Code snippets or a command along with example output are pre-formatted with the entire block in code-font. For example: Make sure the system load has returned to an acceptable, low number:
11:06 up 14 days, 8:59, 3 users, load averages: 1.83 1.86 1.82
There are other conventions that you may notice, but these are the primary ones.
Flotsam and Jetsam
“Anything else?” you ask… Sure!
Cloud Academy strongly encourages the use of two screens (when possible) or at least two browser tabs when following the Instructions in a Lab Step. Use one screen (or tab) for the Cloud Academy Instructions, and one for following the instructions (usually in the console, SSH, or RDP connection).
Great content + Great technology = Great learning experience! In addition to the updates in this post, which will be very apparent for anyone firing up our Labs, we’re adding many enhancements in the actual Cloud Academy platform. Our Lab R&D and Lab Platform teams are committed to continuously improving our platform and providing new functionalities. Stay tuned for new updates!
Here is what you can expect from new and revised Labs on the Cloud Academy Platform:
- A consistent, familiar look and feel that is easy to understand. No need to spend any extra cycles figuring out anything but the technology itself.
- Improved quality of Lab content.
- A better Lab platform as new features are implemented and pushed live.
To see our latest collection of Labs, check out our Content Library Labs section.
Cloud Computing Solutions: 7 Trends for the Future
The world of cloud computing is in a state of flux. Not long ago, the cloud was considered an emerging technology, known only to IT specialists. Today it is a part of everyday life – 96% of businesses use the cloud in one form or another, and this number only looks set to grow. Whether ...
Which Certifications Should I Get?
As we mentioned in an earlier post, the old AWS slogan, “Cloud is the new normal” is indeed a reality today. Really, cloud has been the new normal for a while now and getting credentials has become an increasingly effective way to quickly showcase your abilities to recruiters and compan...
8 Surprising Ways Cloud Computing Is Changing Education
Cloud computing: Empowering the education industry Over the years, the education industry has come a long way. Teaching and learning are no longer confined to textbooks and classrooms and now reaches computers and mobile devices. Today, learners are always connected — whether they are ...
What Exactly Is a Cloud Architect and How Do You Become One?
One of the buzzwords surrounding the cloud that I'm sure you've heard is "Cloud Architect." In this article, I will outline my understanding of what a cloud architect does and I'll analyze the skills and certifications necessary to become one. I will also list some of the types of jobs ...
Disadvantages of Cloud Computing
If you want to deliver digital services of any kind, you’ll need to estimate all types of resources, not the least of which are CPU, memory, storage, and network connectivity. Which resources you choose for your delivery — cloud-based or local — is up to you. But you’ll definitely want...
What is Kubernetes? An Introductory Overview
In part 1 of my webinar series on Kubernetes, I introduced Kubernetes at a high level with hands-on demos aiming to answer the question, "What is Kubernetes?" After polling our audience, we found that most of the webinar attendees had never used Kubernetes before, or had only been expos...
How Does Cloud Computing Work?
Whether you're looking to become a cloud engineer or you're a manager wanting to gain more knowledge, learn the basics of how cloud computing works. Are you wondering about how cloud computing actually works? We can help explain the basic principles behind this technology. Cloud comput...
What is Ansible?
What is Ansible? Ansible is an open-source IT automation engine, which can remove drudgery from your work life, and will also dramatically improve the scalability, consistency, and reliability of your IT environment. We'll start to explore how to automate repetitive system administratio...
What is Puppet? Get Started With Our Course
When it comes to building and configuring IT infrastructure, especially across dozens or even thousands of servers, developers need tools that automate and streamline this process. Enter Puppet, one of the leading DevOps tools for automating delivery and operation of software no matter ...
2018 Was a Big Year for Content at Cloud Academy
As Head of Content at Cloud Academy I work closely with our customers and my domain leads to prioritize quarterly content plans that will achieve the best outcomes for our customers. We started 2018 with two content objectives: To show customer teams how to use Cloud Services to solv...
2019 Cloud Computing Predictions
2018 was a banner year in cloud computing, with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) all continuing to launch new and innovative services. We also saw growth among enterprises in the adoption of methodologies supporting the move toward cloud-native...
Introducing Assessment Cycles
Today, cloud technology platforms and best practices around them move faster than ever, resulting in a paradigm shift for how organizations onboard and train their employees. While assessing employee skills on an annual basis might have sufficed a decade ago, the reality is that organiz...