Operation Spark

Making an Impact: How Operation Spark leverages Cloud Academy to build tech talent in New Orleans

Operation Spark is a non-profit organization in New Orleans opening a new door to prosperity by presenting the fastest route to a career in software development.

  • 661%

    Increase in overall skill growth

  • 731%

    Improvement in AWS skills

Challenge

Operation Spark is focused on building up tech talent in the city of New Orleans by offering technical guidance, curriculum, and support for high schoolers and young adults. To facilitate this program, they were creating all of their own curriculum and content with a humble mission to give back to their city. But as quickly as cloud technologies change, this created a lot of overhead to keep up with demand and keep content up-to-date. This led John Fraboni, Founder and CEO at Operation Spark, to search for a solution to help outsource some of this work.

Operation Spark primarily teaches their bootcamps and immersion programs in person to help students land jobs in software development. What was missing, however, was that once their students graduated from Operation Spark’s program and landed a career in tech, there was still a need for ongoing learning to master on-the-job skills relevant to their new role. Their graduates needed something flexible to help them continue their cloud education, pick up new programming languages, and gain real-world experience working in new technologies while simultaneously building a career at the same time. 

The ability to create and maintain curriculum for an expansive breadth of cloud technologies also posed a challenge for Operation Spark, as the learning content created in-house was often limited to the domain expertise of their staff and volunteer base at the time. With the exponential growth in the number of students attending their programs and the ever-present goal of thoughtfully supporting as many students as possible, it became a full-time task just trying to keep up-to-date with changing trends in the cloud. 

Being a non-profit organization, Operation Spark needed an outsourced solution they could rely on for highly relevant, effective, and up-to-date content that offered both depth and breadth, and a flexible way to continue to support their students even after graduation from their in-person training program.

Solution

After evaluating a number of alternatives, it was the platform’s ease of use, granular analytics, and real-time reporting that let Operation Spark know Cloud Academy would be a good fit for them. 

“One thing that put Cloud Academy on another level than most other platforms we evaluated were its analytics tools and real-time reporting. The ease of use was another big factor for us to help us organize our cohorts effectively.” – John Fraboni, Founder and CEO

Since using Cloud Academy, John and the team at Operation Spark were pleasantly surprised with how involved their customer success manager, Brandon, was in helping to set up effective training for their specific use cases and cohorts of students. They have direct access to the course creators, instructors, and cloud experts behind the content as well, making Cloud Academy not just a tool to use, but a partnership for their success. 

Making the most of the partnership and platform with Cloud Academy, Operation Spark was able to develop and manage multiple learning paths for students spanning the gamut from freshly minted developers learning to code for the first time, to seasoned developers that have been working in their career for years. After creating their own content for years, this really opened up flexibility in terms of the variety of technical content they can offer in their programs, and the ongoing support they can provide to their students in their journey. 

Outcome

One feature Operation Spark has particularly benefited from was the ability to seamlessly spin up real cloud environments using Cloud Academy’s hands-on labs, lab challenges, and lab playgrounds. This was especially valuable for students to learn real, hands-on experience. Going beyond hypothetical scenarios and abstract diagrams, having the chance to learn-by-doing gives students with multiple learning styles a better chance of retaining and truly understanding the material being studied.

“Spinning up real cloud environments on Cloud Academy is very seamless. You can jump right into a hands-on environment and complete labs and piece together training plans in multiple ways — it’s very effective.”

Additionally, the flexibility of learning paths allows Cloud Academy’s platform to be used alongside Operation Spark’s in-person training. They could assign training plans and labs within Cloud Academy, then host in-person office hours and Q & A sessions around the same topics within their facility, which created a holistic learning model to fit a wide variety of students’ needs. Many of their advanced students today are working toward cloud certification.

“Our time spent on planning out content and creating live training environments for our students has been cut immensely since using Cloud Academy. It’s really handy and it’s those kinds of things that set Cloud Academy apart from many of the competitors.”

While the platform provides autonomy for students to explore new technologies that are most relevant to their career interests, the use of Cloud Academy training plans coupled with a hybrid learning model helps students stick to their training with high success rates. 

With a tool like this in place, it frees up time for John and his team to focus on positively empowering as many students as possible to gain the tech skills needed for our future. Their mission is both ambitious and admirable, and being able to outsource content, have access to cloud playgrounds, gain new tools to support student’s ongoing learning, and organize everything seamlessly within a single platform will be a game-changer for their impact on the community as they continue to scale. 

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