How DigitalOcean empowers learners at West Texas A&M University

“DigitalOcean’s $4 Droplet is priced to be very friendly for hobbyists and students. I’ve had students use cloud products from bigger providers in the past, and they can get into trouble with billing. With DigitalOcean, the cost is the same as the cup of coffee students bring into class each day.” 

Dr. Jeffry Babb is a Professor of Computer Information Systems at West Texas A&M University, where he teaches computer programming and software development courses to 30 students per year. Giving his students a hands-on experience with setting up infrastructure and building software is a vital part of their learning, and DigitalOcean’s simple interface, educational materials, and low pricing make it the ideal cloud provider for students to create test environments and build applications. After they graduate, students can continue to leverage DigitalOcean’s solutions in their jobs or as they go on to build businesses of their own. 

Simple, cost-effective cloud solutions for learners

In the past, Dr. Babb maintained his own servers to give his students access to testing environments as they were learning CI/CD, DevOps, and other development principles. As Virtual Private Servers became more accessible, it was clear that switching to a cloud computing environment would save him time while giving his students access to the tools they needed to learn. 

Dr. Babb had used other cloud providers for his own projects, but discovered DigitalOcean through one of its tutorials and quickly saw the value that DigitalOcean’s easy-to-use products and library of educational materials would bring to his students. Each student creates their own DigitalOcean account, which is easy to manage and maintain. The low pricing of DigitalOcean’s Droplet virtual machines also made it a clear match for learners, especially when compared to similar options from hyperscalers, which have complex pricing models that can quickly become out of reach for students. 

“DigitalOcean’s $4 Droplet is priced to be very friendly for hobbyists and students. I’ve had students use cloud products from bigger providers in the past, and they can get into trouble with billing. With DigitalOcean, the cost is the same as the cup of coffee students bring into class each day.” - Dr. Jeffry Babb, Professor of Computer Information Systems

By starting with a blank VPS with a Linux OS installed, students can learn about cloud infrastructure and application development from the start, and avoid being locked into specific SaaS products. As part of their learning, students build software applications, websites, and more. For example, one group of students recently partnered with a local non-profit that supports local middle and high school as they consider continued education and career paths. Dr. Babb’s students helped this non-profit to digitize their donation process and administrative tasks so they could more efficiently run their organization. 

Students mostly leverage DigitalOcean’s low-cost Droplets, but Dr. Babb is also interested in integrating App Platform and DigitalOcean Functions into his teaching, as they further simplify infrastructure management and introduce more automation into the learning process. 

A shared commitment to education and open source

Dr. Babb has been using DigitalOcean in his courses for eight years now. One of the reasons he continues to steer students towards DigitalOcean is their shared commitment to helping the next generation of developers through a commitment to free educational resources and supporting open source technologies. DigitalOcean’s tutorials cover a wide range of topics that are applicable to those learning the fundamentals of computing, such as How To Install the LAMP Stack and A Linux Command Line Primer.

DigitalOcean is committed to supporting the open source community, through providing free educational resources for common open source software and hosting events such as Hacktoberfest. This dedication to open source is also important to educators such as Dr. Babb. 

“The world today lives off of open source technologies, so it’s important that businesses like DigitalOcean are showing their support of open source software.” - Dr. Jeffry Babb

So far, hundreds of West Texas A&M students have benefited from DigitalOcean’s simple products and educational content as part of their learning path. After graduation, these students bring this knowledge to future jobs, with some becoming entrepreneurs. Because DigitalOcean is built to serve the needs of both learners and those building production-ready applications, former students can continue to use DigitalOcean products as they build their own websites, applications, and businesses. 

“Some students go straight into entrepreneurship, and the knowledge of cloud infrastructure is a part of their repertoire–they can get out there and the world is their oyster. DigitalOcean’s solutions reduce barriers to entry to the infrastructure space and gives them freedom and independence to explore their own things. The resources DigitalOcean provides empower you no matter how big or small you are.” - Dr. Jeffry Babb

For more ideas about how to use DO for research and teaching, please visit DigitalOcean for Higher Education.

West Texas A&M

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Education

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Texas, United States

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