Cisco Networking Academy, established in 1997, teaches students networking and other information technology-related skills, preparing them for jobs as well as for higher education in engineering, computer science and related fields. Since its launch, the program has grown to more than 9,000 Academies in 50 U.S. states and more than 165 countries with a curriculum taught in 16 different languages. More than 900,000 students participate in Academies operating in colleges and universities, technical schools, community-based organizations, and other educational programs around the world. Networking Academy blends face-to-face teaching with web-based curriculum, hands-on lab exercises, and Internet-based assessment.
Networking Academy offers a variety of courses in networking, such as CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate), CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Professional), Wireless Networking and Network Security, among others. The CCNA is offered in two models, Discovery provides general networking theory and offers a hands-on career-oriented approach. Exploration is for more advanced learners and covers protocols and theory in depth, each is divided into four courses. Both the Exploration and Discovery tracks lead to industry-recognized CCNA certification. CCNP courses follow from the CCNA and is offered as four separate certificated courses.
A regular semester has 18 weeks, with 4 hours per week. This refers to classes at the academy; the student is expected to read the course materials at home. Each student is given a username and password, to access the course materials and for the online exams. Although the exams are online, they are taken in the presence of a qualified instructor. The classes at the academy usually include a summary of important points, review of difficult topics and questions, and practice (for example, for the CCNA course, practice with specialized networking equipment, such as routers and network switches).
A cornerstone of the Networking Academy teaching methodology, is a focus on practical skills development. While assessment of theoretical content is measured with on-line assessment tools, students must pass a proctored practical skills test on prescribed laboratory equipment, before a passing grade may be awarded.
Development of a balanced theoretical knowledge and work-ready practical skills is monitored and assured through the Cisco Networking Academy Quality Assurance Program. Since 2003 in Spain and 2005 in the UK, Networking Academy has formed partnerships with the respective Open Universities of these countries to offer a blended 'at home' with a small proportion of 'in class' work.