About Networking Academy

World's Largest Classroom

Bernhard Hämmerli, Switzerland
Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and President of Swiss Informatics Society, Switzerland
Download: in English PDF (358 KB) | German PDF (308 KB) | Podcast MP3 (4.2 MB)

Efficient and Engaging Instruction for the 21st Century

Switzerland is known for its attention to precision and for its efficiency, a focus that extends to educating and training the country's students. Professor Bernhard Hämmerli shares this focus, to the great benefit of IT professors, students, and industry in Switzerland.

To say Professor Hämmerli's curriculum vitae is impressive is an understatement. He has worked for IBM (developing communications systems), Swissair (developing network strategies), and UBS (the largest bank in Switzerland, managing communication and security projects). Since 1992, he has been a professor at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, teaching networking and information security.

Professor Hämmerli's commitment to professors, students, and the IT industry alike is reflected in his many activities over the years. While teaching networking and data communications at the university, he began instituting Cisco Networking Academy at the university starting with Cisco CCNA networking training and later adding Cisco CCNP instruction. He also organized an information security project for the Swiss Informatics Society, for which he now serves as president.

Instruction Based on the Needs of Industry and Academia

The University of Applied Sciences, where Professor Hämmerli teaches, educates future telecommunications and networking department employees of Swiss enterprises. The university's goal is to deliver high-quality education that enables graduates to efficiently and actively support their team from their first day on the job at a corporation or instition.

Professor Hämmerli stresses that the workforce must be well trained so they don't "blow up" the network or servers. They can't make any mistakes because the immense cost of network downtime, especially the costs from loss of productivity and commerce. Professor Hämmerli notes that Switzerland's minimal network and power downtime is the envy of his colleagues in other countries.

The Efficiency of Automatically Updated Curriculum

Initially, it was hard to persuade many of the teachers to come to the Networking Academy because they had their own program, labs, and materials for their curriculum.

But Professor Hämmerli says the old approach is not the most efficient. "The unique position the Networking Academy has is that it innovates itself. Teachers outside of the academy have to update their programs themselves every year. But when they are part of Networking Academy, their curriculum is updated for them automatically. This is very useful, and more teachers are recognizing the value of the automatic updates."

Recruiting Instructors for Networking Academy

During the first five years of Networking Academy in Switzerland, beginning in 1998, there were eight academies in the country. Then Cisco Switzerland, as part of its corporate social responsibility efforts, cosponsored a program for a very nominal fee (roughly US$50) per semester to educate vocational school teachers in the Cisco CCNA curriculum. More than 50 percent of the Swiss vocational school teachers participated in the courses.

Students and Teachers Are Onboard with Academy Offerings

Networking Academy has been in Switzerland for nearly 12 years, and according to Professor Hämmerli has contributed to increased professionalism in the vocational schools and in the bachelor's degree programs in the country. He says the increased professionalism is especially noticeable in the practical arena and in the satisfaction level of the students.

The students prefer the up-to-date technology and training provided in the Networking Academy offerings. The hands-on labs and the web-component of the training are particularly well liked by the students. In addition, both teachers and students not only like the Cisco Packet Tracer simulation component, but also find it to be a very integral and important part of their training.

The feedback from each Networking Academy module test is motivating for the students. Professor Hämmerli describes students' reaction as: "I learned that. I can do it. I can learn the next component."

Efficiency and Economy of Scale Benefit Networking Academy Teachers

Professor Hämmerli explains that all Swiss teachers are under great pressure to deliver the highest-quality lectures. Networking Academy supports the instructors with high-quality, up-to-date curriculum materials that allow them to offer a blended learning environment. Professor Hämmerli believes this is one of the major successes of the program. The Networking Academy curriculum is already prepared, so teachers can use their time to focus on other aspects of instruction.

The Networking Academy exams provide efficiency, consistency, and economies for the teachers in that they can use the program's exams as part of the final exams for the students. The Networking Academy online exams are a great asset to the students and the teachers because students know how they performed and teachers can see how their students are progressing.


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