Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

Discovery apples

Apples meet Amazon Web Services. Photo courtesy of Nick Saltmarsh(CC Attribution)

Teachers have a tough job, and it’s getting tougher by the day. Students have the entire world at their fingertips thanks to the smartphone in their pocket, the computer in the library, the tablet in their backpack, and Cloud computing giants like Amazon Web Services delivering constant content. Teachers at all levels have faced this dilemma for generations: how to get students engaged and learning about the cutting edge of the latest technology (and how to keep pace yourself). 

Today, classrooms are full of digital natives. How can you, as a teacher, help your kids get ahead? 

student_ipad_school - 142

Photo courtesy of flickingerbrad(CC Attribution)

One steadily growing answer: teach kids to code. Between Minecraft, a coding training program disguised as a game, and programs like this inspiring story of homeless teens learning code as a gateway to marketable job skills, we see remarkable classroom experiences evolving every day. 

But what if you want to go one step further? Don’t get me wrong, as a kid, I loved learning to code (thanks Xanga!). But what if I told you that there are tons of resources, many of them free, you and your students could use to learn about the Cloud? (Here are about $130k reasons why it’s a good skill to pick up.) 

The Cloud is a pretty abstract concept, especially when you’re a total newcomer to Cloud computing behind-the-scenes. Hands-on learning in the form of science labs, field trips, practical demonstrations and more seem to have the most lasting impact on learning and retention, particularly for students in grade school or college. 

Fortunately, there’s a lab for learning the Cloud with Amazon Web Services (an industry all-star) – more accurately, there are 97 labs that give students hands-on experience with Amazon Web Services. All you need is a computer with an internet connection. You can start both teaching and learning today. 

Amazon Web Services Lab

This is not the lab I was looking for…

How do these labs work?

Your Cloud labs await you at www.qwikLABS.com.  There are over 30 introductory-level labs that teach you how to use Amazon Web Services, all of them offered free of charge. Start simple with a basic, here’s-how-to-store-files-in-the-Cloud with Introduction to Amazon S3 (includes a youtube vid). Students learn how to upload an image (maybe a picture of their pet, their favorite food, or a vacation snapshot – or a selfie?) into an S3 bucket. Spoiler alert, many of the images they see on the internet are stored in S3 buckets (Pinterest, anyone?). 

Need a little more help? Here’s a 4-lab lesson plan that walks you and your students through the basics of Cloud computing, using Amazon Web Services. The best part? All of the labs in this plan are totally free of charge.

Sample Lesson Plan for introducing students of all ages to the Cloud with qwikLABS

YOLO! You only lab once

Question: Why can I only take a lab once?

We hear this question on a pretty regular basis. “I paid for credits, spent the credits on a lab, took the lab, and you’re telling me I have to spend more credits to take the lab a second time?” It’s a valid question, and the answer is worth exploring (TLDR: subscribe to qwikLABS and take a lab as many times as you want!). 

The hands-on qwikLABS approach is dramatically different from other sources of online training. A lab is not like a book that you buy and read over and over. A lab is more like a sandwich – you only eat it once. 

qwikLABS for lunch

A lab is like a sandwich…

Minecraft, the painless alternative to stepping on tiny plastic bricks

Have you ever stepped on a lego brick? Toy blocks have quite a history (and not just in relation to your decision to wear slippers). John Locke (writer and philosopher), Friedrich Froebel (often referred to as the father of kindergarten), Maria Montessori (teacher and first woman in Italy to earn a medical degree) and many others recognized the value of playing with blocks to encourage problem solving, identify dependencies and patterns, and visualize mathematics.

Minecraft's predecessor

A bare foot’s worst enemy.

Get your lab on at AWS Chicago Summit

Are you in Chicago? Check out the AWS Summit, happening now. Say hi to Dave, the qwikLABS on-scene expert!

https://qwiklabs.com/

Many labs were taken.

One for the road

Snag a token (or 2) and take a free lab at the event, or save it for later. Bring one home to your friend while you’re at it – save your souvenir budget. 

qwiklabs.com

New look, same price (free!).

If you’re in Chicago, I hope you swing by and take a lab or two. And if you’re not in Chicago, no worries, qwikLABS AWS labs are available anywhere with an internet connection. Take a look at our catalog and find your next lab. 

qwikLABS: The almond of tech learning

One of the things we have in our office consistently, 100% of the time, is snack food. Some of it is healthy (dried mangos) and some of it is a little on the junkfood side (even though the popcorn promises it’s a good source of vitamins).

Redshift-cluster

Generic clip-art lady with donuts – you can find anything on the internet…

Every day we sample a little of this and a little of that. We have our favorites that we keep stocked. We try new things and decide whether or not a second appearance is deserved.

The office favorite? Almonds. What do we like about them? They’re nourishing. Flavorful. Satisfying. They come in different flavors, and are delicious in (almost!) any iteration. Bottom line? Almonds are snackable, and good for you.

So what is the point, other than making everyone feel hungry? qwikLABS, with our hands-on lab approach to training, is the almond of learning new technology. Seriously, learning new technologies like AWS can result in massive career opportunities. And qwikLABS, with our snackable, good-for-you labs, should be in your browser’s recent history (if you’re not taking one right now).

Introducing qwikLABS Advantage Subscriptions

Now available: Advantage Monthly Subscriptions at qwikLABS! Starting today, get monthly access to the entire catalog of 90+ AWS-authorized labs, for one low price: $55.00 USD. 

Sign up here.

Why is this a big deal? The value of AWS knowledge is undeniable. The new Advantage subscription gets you full access to the growing list of AWS lab topics. Take as many labs as you want, any place and any pace, all with access to the real AWS Console. No simulations here! 

And why start offering subscriptions? Testing the idea a few months ago (thanks to all who participated BTW!) and your response to unlimited labs last month convinced us that Advantage subscriptions are the best, max-value way to get self-paced labs into your hands. 

Simply put, the cost of earning a single Quest badge is generally higher than 1 month’s subscription for access to *all* labs (more about Quests here). So we truly hope you take Advantage! (See what I did there?)

Any questions about the new Advantage subscription option? Check out these FAQs, or send us your question and we’ll be happy to help. Subscriptions aren’t for you? No worries, basic and bulk credit pricing are still available, exactly as before. 

I’m in! Where do I start?

Here are a few suggestions. Don’t forget to get your subscription first!

If you’re familiar with AWS already and want to skip the intros, check these labs out:

If you are new to AWS, get your first look at the AWS Console in less than 30 minutes with Intro to EC2 – one of our 30+ labs free of charge – then dive deeper into more complex labs like part 1 of Building a Media Sharing Website.

Does one of these catch your eye? 

How GPU Technology Conferences are Part of a Vast Conspiracy

… to make the impossible possible with GPU technologies! 

Last day of the GPU Tech Conference, be sure to take advantage of self-paced labs with qwikLABS. Get your lab on – starting at 9:30 (and if you’re not there, check out our online labs). 

Did you partake of yesterday’s baked-to-perfection cookies? Or are you just there for the robots?

Seriously looks like a great party, but even more seriously, take things into your own hands and get into NVIDIA technology, fast. Check out these live, hands-on labs and learn to program GPUs with C++, or Python, or Fortran, or MATLAB – any place, your pace. Check out labs on OpenACC and Deep Learning too (Intro to Deep Learning is free!). 

GPU Tech Conference 2016

So what flavor doughnut did you get? 

Check out the NVIDIA Deep Learning badge

Are you at the GPU Technology Conference? We promised pics – read on to see if you made it into any of the shots! 

Check the schedule for bootcamps and self-paced labs. You’ll find qwikLABS there! Even if you didn’t make it to the conference, check out the NVIDIA lab catalog, and try our newest NVIDIA Quest, Introduction to Deep Learning.

What’s a Quest, you might ask? And why should I care? Each Quest consists of a collection  of labs that focus on a specific area of GPU computing and practical use cases. At the end of a Quest, you get two things:

  • Advanced knowledge of that specific area of GPU computing
  • A shareable badge to show what you accomplished (looks great on your resume, social media profiles, and more!)

Why should I take the Deep Learning Quest? Deep learning is helping to solve big data problems such as computer vision (self-driving cars!), speech recognition, and language processing. NVIDIA provides high-performance tools and libraries to power these applications, and qwikLABS puts practical training, curated by experts, into your hands. Earn your Deep Learning Badge today!

As promised, here are a few snapshots of the conference. Have you checked out the self-paced labs yet?

Self-pacedlabs
Self-paced labs zone

Presentation3
Presentations

Presentation1
Are you in this shot?

Presentation2
How about this one?

AI and self-driving cars?

That and more at the GPU Technology Conference. It’s the biggest GPU conference in the world and it kicked off this morning. Are you there?

Between sessions on AI and self-driving cars, conference attendees will have a chance to learn new tools with hands-on NVIDIA labs powered by qwikLABS. If you’re attending the conference, check the schedule to see when labs are available.

If you’re not at the conference (bummer!), take a look at the NVIDIA self-paced lab catalog. Not sure where to start? Earn a badge with our latest Quest, Introduction to Deep Learning.

Final Countdown

I’ll make this quick, since time is running out. Tomorrow night, the AWS 10 year celebration comes to an end, and so do free AWS labs (but intro labs are always free – as they were even before this event). You’ve accomplished a lot in the last two weeks. Be proud of the effort you’ve put in!

Finish strong – keep up your momentum and sneak in one or two final freebies before the price tags return. On April 1, AWS labs will return to normal prices.

Congratulations once again to AWS on 10 years of success, and happy lab-taking!

PS: Do you like numbers? Stay tuned for some stats on how much you accomplished since March 14 :)