Long Beach City College

Preparing Students for the Future: How Long Beach City College uses the Cloud Academy platform to improve student outcomes and foster real-world skills

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Long Beach City College is a two-year community college that encompasses state-of-the-art, technology-rich learning environments, a broad range of academic and career technical instructional programs, strong community partnerships, and economic and workforce development initiatives that prepare students to be successful in the 21st century.

  • 817%

    Increase in overall skill profile scores

  • 3,019

    Hours of content consumed

  • 1057%

    Increase in AWS domain expertise


Long Beach City College (LBCC) wanted to launch a unique curriculum for students to learn relevant cloud skills that would help them prepare for what’s expected after college. They were looking for a solution that would not only answer this need but also provide a hands-on learning experience. Karen Thurston, Assistant Professor, planned to lead a course dedicated to teaching students how to use an AWS cloud environment and, most of all, help get them certified as AWS Cloud Practitioners or Solutions Architect Associates. 

Karen specifically wanted to give her students a complete picture of why the cloud is a benefit to companies, governments, and non-profit organizations. She wanted a program that taught students not just how the cloud is used, but what problems it can solve. Within their new cloud curriculum program, it was extremely important to be able to track and report on the progress of students. With the school year coming up around the corner, LBCC was on a tight deadline to find an innovative solution that they could scale across multiple cloud computing classes. 


They learned about Cloud Academy when John Craig, an instructor at LBCC, was tasked with putting the program together and began looking for published cloud content. Although LBCC was already using different sources for content from Santa Monica Community College and the AWS Academy, they needed a more comprehensive platform with an in-depth learning experience for their students. They found the answer to all of their needs in the Cloud Academy platform, and LBCC launched this new cloud program, called Cloud Certificate, in the fall of 2019. 

“Cloud Academy has the best put-together library of content we could pull from. Overall the Cloud Academy content was more continuous and more comprehensive than anything else out there, especially the labs and the lab environments.” -Karen Thurston, Assistant Professor at LBCC

Because LBCC is an educational institution, the curriculum needs were very specific, and Cloud Academy’s Customer Success Team worked closely with staff to curate the right content needed to build their curriculum.

“Whenever I reach out to Cloud Academy for support, I always hear back immediately, and the help I receive is always useful. Overall our experience has been really positive.” 

Cloud Academy’s large library of content is always ready to use out-of-the-box, but it can also be customized and tailored to achieve specific learner outcomes. John and Karen took advantage of this by creating custom learning paths, which include a combination of interactive courses, quizzes, and hands-on labs using readily accessible AWS accounts through the Cloud Academy platform. They then sequenced multiple learning paths together in succession, so that students can learn a set of cloud skills that build on top of each other for a holistic learning experience. 

Karen also leveraged Cloud Academy’s pre-configured learning paths, including  “Preparation for Certification Exams,” considering their goal to help students to attain the AWS Cloud Practitioner certification upon completion of their new program.

One major benefit for our students is that they’re able to achieve certification readiness despite not having any prior job-related experience. Our students love the ability to work through the hands-on labs on real AWS accounts through Cloud Academy. They’re given step-by-step instructions, they work directly within the console, and it’s spelled out for them really well so they can pick it up quickly.”


“I’ve told the students focusing on certification, in particular the AWS Cloud Practitioner, that after going through the curriculum and certification prep they should be pretty confident taking that exam. It’s been so beneficial for them to have the question banks to practice. It’s just great to see them go from no prior knowledge, all the way to perfecting their skills enough to recall what they’ve learned during a high-pressure exam.”


Using Cloud Academy Training Plans, Karen assigns modules on a weekly basis, which include custom due dates, auto-reminders, and weekly goals to help keep students on track through completion. With Cloud Academy, the admins of the program are able to easily track students’ progress from day one and monitor their skill growth over time. Karen appreciates the ability to create a report in one simple click and download it, making the process immediate. They also appreciate the team dashboard, which adds a lot of value to the whole experience, as well as the web user interface and mobile app, which are both very easy to navigate.

“The students and I really appreciate being able to review the videos in a mobile format. While I’m walking around doing something else, I can listen to the courses with my headphones. That’s very helpful to have that ability.” 

In terms of the overall training, Karen found that the hands-on content in the labs were one of the most beneficial aspects of the program for her students. She appreciates that students can take the exams and labs as many times as they need to in order to complete them 100% successfully. 

“We want to emphasize that students actually retain the skills they’ll need post-degree, so we like that quizzes and practice exams can be retaken with no penalty. If they want to invest more time and work on those labs, we don’t need to configure anything or set it up. It’s in the cloud. It’s the real environment. Students get to run the real console directly within Cloud Academy, which is great.”

Using Cloud Academy allowed LBCC to offer a complete picture of how cloud computing is used. While Karen emphasized teaching the business, purpose, and benefits of the cloud in her class, the Cloud Academy platform provided tangible insights into the mechanics of the cloud computing world. 

“The cloud can bring technology to people that have nothing more than an internet connection. They don’t need to have IT infrastructure on-premises. The internet, in general, equalizes opportunity for people, and Cloud Academy makes it easy for any skill level to learn in the cloud.”

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