The University of Seattle, Washington State, uses an online game — FoldIt — to crowdsource research that helps scientists working in the field of protein structure prediction.
In their own words: “We’re collecting data to find out if humans’ pattern-recognition and puzzle-solving abilities make them more efficient than existing computer programs at pattern-folding tasks. If this turns out to be true, we can then teach human strategies to computers and fold proteins faster than ever!”
Similarly, the language learning app Duolingo inherits plenty of structures from video games — from an in-game currency (called ‘lingots’) to leaderboards, experience points, and reward badges — all in an effort to engage and encourage users.
In both cases, what we’re witnessing is ‘gamification’: the idea that games and game structures can serve as powerful platforms in other arenas, from learning to complex research projects.
From Russia with Love
Founded in 1996, the Microtest Training Center specializes in training and certifying IT experts. Today with 700 staff and six branches around the country, Microtest was in fact the first partner in Russia authorized to conduct courses on Huawei equipment. And the fit is a good one: both Microtest and Huawei share key core values — openness and cooperation.
As the oldest Huawei authorized training center in Russia — officially accredited as a Huawei Authorized Learning Partner (HALP) — Microtest constantly explores ways to innovate methodologies that can build a supporting environment and foster competency in Huawei technologies, products, and solutions. Furthermore, the company prioritizes increasing the qualification level of the instructors themselves, as well as finding new ways to engage students in the learning process. Perhaps this is why Microtest was named Huawei’s best Authorized Learning Partner in Europe for 2016-2017.
In the Game
One such way of investing individuals in the learning process is to turn toward the trend for gamification. To develop its education ecosystem and promote certification, Microtest launched a unique project in 2016: IT-Games PRO. With a mandatory certification exam as its natural endpoint, IT-Games PRO is an ongoing learning model that combines coaching, training, practice, and testing, with teamwork a key focus, and competitive elements — learning from the world of games — built-in. Its storytelling and troubleshooting features add further layers of texture, transforming the learning experience into something truly engaging and active, quite different from traditional, passive pedagogical models.
Building on the success of IT-Games Pro, Microtest and Huawei launched the ‘Huawei Hunger Games 2018’ just two years later, an educational gaming championship concept involving some of the best corporations in Russia, including Russian Railways, Sberbank, and Yandex. Twenty-six unique education- and entertainment-related projects were entered, and participants passed 100 Huawei exams in total. Unsurprisingly given this result, they provided extremely positive feedback. The event proved highly effective and undoubtedly played its part in stimulating a new wave of interest in Huawei IT-certification: more than 400 certification exams were passed at Microtest Training Centers during the second half of 2018.
Buoyed by these successes, Microtest and Huawei launched an even more ambitious gaming concept involving some of the largest companies in Russia — ‘Huawei Certified Internetwork Expert (HCIE) Huawei Camp 2019.’
The camp’s main goals were to provide IT specialists with experience to boost their confidence and quickly provide training for a large volume of participants, ultimately injecting a significant number of newly HCIE-trained experts into the market.
In ways like this, Microtest has long been committed to the popularization of Huawei professional IT certification in Russia, given that a large share of enterprise networks in Russia are already constructed with Huawei equipment. Microtest actively promotes Huawei certification to its clients as a way of rapidly building an internal knowledge base and an evaluation program for IT specialists within a company, saving both time and money, with no need for companies to self-develop their own standards.
Moving forward with Huawei, Microtest is planning a campaign to promote the full suite of Huawei certifications in Russia — including Huawei Certified ICT Associate (HCIA), Huawei Certified ICT Professional (HCIP), and HCIE — and is making efforts to demonstrate to Russian IT specialists that there is considerable demand for Huawei certified experts on a global scale. This means that, on gaining certification, IT professionals are opening doors for their future careers in other developing markets, notably the five major emerging national economies of the BRICS nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa — as well as countries across the African continent.
Close cooperation with Huawei is ongoing, including the development of new mutual KPIs, as well as discussions about further ways to create and develop fresh educational projects for students, big corporations, and partners, including a plan to jointly run an HCIE club.
Huawei views the construction of an open ecosystem to help build the information society as one of its key goals. In 2020 and beyond, Microtest will remain committed to playing its part in the creation of a talent ecosystem, at all levels: from students (basic level training), through to specialists (at an intermediate level), and experts (the highest level possible). In this way, the company assists Huawei in expanding its market opportunities, in identifying prospective talents, and in encouraging all to develop and evolve their own competencies.