First Week of School Winter 2021

Well, the week is out and the first week of school is over. Overall it has been a good week.

I am teaching the introduction to programming course for the first time. One feature of this course is that there is a fair amount of students adding and dropping the class in the first week. That leads to having a less productive week as an instructor because I can’t leave people in the dust that had to add a week late.

I am also teaching a class on becoming a CIO. My course content is set, but my calendar of guest speakers is still being created, so I’m trying to arrange that while also teaching my classes. It is interesting that I lost about half of my original students before the week started because they switched over to the full stack development class when that elective came available. An interesting feature of our student base is that we see more interest in technical content than in IT management content. Having walked that path as a student, I would compare their focus to how younger kids like legos and aren’t concerned with the opposite gender, and then later it flips. I wish I had a way to help students see what they will really care about once they have been out for 5-10 years and get them interested in that now.

Most days I get an avalanche of email. I wish I didn’t have to address it, there is so much. One email today was particularly lame “you haven’t logged into your account recently and so we’ll cut you off if you don’t log in soon.” I probably have 750 different online accounts for different things I’m involved in at this point in my life, and if they all started saying that, it would really stink.

How to get AWS Accounts for university students

As an instructor, setting up AWS accounts for students is sort of like filling out tax paperwork when I owned businesses, since I only do it once a year I completely forget what I did the previous year.

Since I just looked it up again today, I’ll record my notes on how this can be done.

At present, one option for instructors is to use the website.  From here, instructors have two options.  One, is there are a handful of “classrooms” that allow students to use most of the useful AWS services.  The turn around is 4 days for requesting one.  Another option is to have students apply on their own (it appears) for AWS Starter Accounts, which are somewhat limited but can be renewed annually.  If memory serves me right, it seems like some of my students didn’t get approved the last time they did this.

Here at BYU, we have some other options as well.  We have sandbox accounts that people can request and it gets refreshed on a regular basis.  Another option is to apply for a department account and giving students access (scary).  A final option that BYU is working on but which is not ready to go today is similar to the awseducate option for starter accounts, a special account for each class can be set up that would allow $100 per class per student account. E.g. a student could have two AWS-related classes and have two accounts and therefore $100 in credits per account for a total of $200).

As a last resort, students can sign up for personal accounts under new email addresses each year and will get a free year’s worth of free tier resources. Or, as a last last resort, sometimes I just tell students to use their own credit card and normally they don’t run up more than $10.00 in the semester as long as they are careful. This did bit me in the buttocks this last year when I had students use AWS Workspaces (windows desktops in the cloud) for the first time ever and just spinning up a few desktops for an hour cost my students as much as $40.00 and they each had to contact support at AWS to request a refund which was granted in each case.

As a side note, as an instructor using the awseducate website account, I can log in and under the AWS Account link in the navigation, and apply for credits to apply to my personal account, which are redeemed as coupon codes in my real aws account. Hence, my process is different than for my students. I can also apply for a starter account just like the students and see what they experience.

Alright, well, hopefully I’ll remember to check this blog post the next time I need to do this for my students.