Cisco Networking Academy - One Way of Giving Back

Most companies are in the business of making money, but giving back can take many forms. One of the ways Cisco does this is through their Networking Academy, which will be marking its 10th anniversary this October.

The Networking Academy is Cisco's way of providing education and certification programs to encourage and prepare people for careers in IT and networking management. Their program is well established with over 500,000 students participating worldwide across more than 165 countries.

I got to learn more about this during a briefing on Tuesday down at Cisco Canada's Telepresence facility. So, not only did I get to learn about something new, but I got an extended taste of their Telepresence experience.

Our briefing was led by Amy Christen, out of San Jose - via Telepresence, of course - and supported locally by Anne Miller, Cisco's Canadian Education Marketing Manager. They did a great job, and I had no idea how extensive these programs are and how valuable they can be for getting people - both kids and adults - on tech career paths - either right out of school or even as second careers.

I was personally interested, since my oldest son, Max is attending SATEC, one of the Toronto-area high schools participating in this program. He's very focused on getting his CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate), and now I know a lot more about what that really means.

Pretty interesting stuff, and globally, it was quite fascinating to learn how active this program is in emerging markets, which account for roughly 1/3 of all their students. In fact, only 20% of their enrollment comes from the U.S. and Canada. Within Canada, there are about 7,000 students right now, and to date has produced just under 50,000 graduates.

Canada is certainly producing its share of success stories, and this was covered off nicely during the session. If you want to learn more about this, give me a ring, or visit the Cisco website for Canada's Network Academy. With programs like these, I'd have to say it's a pretty good time to be considering career paths in tech and IT.

Switching hats for a moment, I wanted to share some photos of the session to give you a flavor of the Telepresence experience itself. This was my first time using Telepresence simply as a medium, so I was truly just an end user. We weren't there to talk about Telepresence, but I couldn't help thinking that way.

It really is very life like, and after a few minutes, it feels totally natural and not virtual at all. The image and sound quality was great, and the video was very real time. Eye contact was the only area that needed work. When looking back at those of us not sitting dead center, Amy's gaze was actually one person too far over from where we were. Am not sure why that was happening, but she pretty quickly got the cues, and after that, was able to make direct eye contact with everyone.

Have a look - courtesy of my Nokia N93...

One cool thing about Telepresence is that it's actually a phone call. To initiate a session you simply call in from the Cisco phone - just one button to push, that's it.

Also, notice the projection image just underneath where Amy is sitting - on the white background. That's where we watch the slide presentation she's giving from her location back in San Jose.


I really like this photo, as it shows how seamless the video experience is, even when split across two screens. There are 3 panels in total, and in this shot, I captured how Amy's hands cross from one screen panel to the next while typing on her PC. It's not quite The Matrix, but I thought it was a pretty cool proof point of how well this works.


For perspective, I wanted to get a shot to show how our conference table blends in with the virtual conference table where Amy is sitting, 3,000 miles away. From where we're sitting, it very much looks likes everyone is at the same table.


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