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? 

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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


    The purpose of this lesson plan is to provide a starting point for teachers who want to incorporate learning the Cloud into their classroom. Hands-on labs give teachers and their students authentic experience with enterprise Amazon Web Services tools, show students a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how Cloud computing works, and inspire interest in the potential the Cloud has to offer – for experimentation, innovation, and career growth (even if you’re working with 5th graders).


    1. Students will need access to a computer with internet (you may have trouble on a tablet because of screen size and you definitely don’t want to use a smartphone).

    2. Students should use their email address to create an account (free!) on www.qwikLABS.com.

    3. ….and that’s it!


    1. Gain an understanding of how the Cloud permeates everyday life.

    2. Get familiar and comfortable with Amazon Web Services Cloud tools.

    AWS Brainfood

    Have some popcorn with your youtube tutorials.


    • Week 1, Tuesday: Introduction to S3 Do you know how much of what you see on the internet daily lives in an S3 bucket? Check out this Pinterest case study, watch the instructional video, then upload your favorite selfie when you take the lab and see yourself in your own S3 bucket.

    • Week 1, Thursday: Introduction to EC2 The internet is practically infinite. Ever wonder how the planet can fit enough computers to run it? Spoiler alert: the internet relies on virtual machines, not actual computers. Students can build, configure, then log into their own VM using AWS.

    • Week 2, Tuesday: Introduction to AWS Elastic Beanstalk There’s an app for that. And that, and that! Students learn to launch a basic app using AWS (don’t worry, the app is provided). It’s so easy. No wonder everyone’s doing it! Next stop, app development…

    • Week 2, Thursday: Introduction to AWS Identity and Access Management Now we’re getting serious. Learn to control who has access to what, build security groups, and manage passwords. No video for this one. That means more time to play around with user accounts!

    What do you think? Do you want to add Amazon Web Services to your classroom? We’d love to hear your stories!

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