Become a Cisco Networking Academy For Free, For Educators, Everywhere

Become a Cisco Networking Academy ... For Free!

The challenge of any free offer is that it may seem to be too good to be true. Why would a large technology giant like Cisco want to offer their content for free? Equally why does the Open University want to be involved in offering this?

It is a good question - the simple truth is that we are collectively working together as part of a larger community. All desiring to offer free a range of courses as well as expert support - to enhance your teaching and the employability of your students.

This offer has always been free - however, respecting the challenges regarding COVID-19 the Open University have slightly modified this call.

Is there a catch?

Is there a catch?

There is none, that we can see ... you have to be a traditional educational establishment offering nationally recognised qualifications or education in a not-for-profit context.

You could be a library, school, college, university, training provider or education based charity. In fact you could be none of these, as we are open to any interesting social education enterprise. The key is that you are not seeking to run these courses as a for-profit commercial enterprise. Please note, we do check that you are eligible.

There is no limit on the number of students you enrol, you can be a small concern -having a modest enrolment (the smallest we have is under five a year). Up to any capacity that suits your needs as well as those you desire to teach.

We must be open handed and share that there are some advanced courses, that while also free to teach; require the teacher to be accredited before teaching. You may eventually recruit individuals who are already approved - or use some of the OU scalable teaching opportunities (for free).

Read on to discover all the free options.

What courses are totally free

What courses are totally free?

Get connected/Be Your Own Boss/Entrepreneurship - these are collection of short courses (each under 15 hours) that can be used for students requiring digital literacy or business development skills.

Introduction to CyberSecurity - this is a single short course set at under 15 hours. Designed to take any student from no knowledge to informed. It covers the technical and legal aspects as well as offers a set of practical activities using the free Packet Tracer network simulator.

CyberSecurity Essentials - set at approximately 30 hours of study. Designed to follow on from the Introduction to Cybersecurity. This course offers the student an insight into the professional expectations around being a cybersecurity professional as well as explore the technologies used to secure the system as well as recognise commonplace exploits and risks.

Programming in Python - released December 2017. This short course includes an inbuilt browser based development environment that provides support and feedback to the student. This course is 70hrs, and is split into two sections covering 'procedural' [40hrs] and 'object oriented' [30hrs] programming

C/C++ Essentials and Advanced ... a core language of many different systems, including Linux and many embedded systems. These courses are designed to take students from a low experience level to moderately advanced programming skills. All of these courses can be used in conjunction with any computer science programme. Each course is approximately 70hrs in length.

Linux Unhatched/Linux Essentials - supported by Cisco partners NDG. Accompanied by an in built browser based virtual machine. These courses provide a practical introduction to the open source Linux operating system

Obligatory Linux Penguin - Tux Pic by Larry Ewing

Internet of Things (introduction and fundamentals) - this is a range of courses, that enable students to discover home and industrial automation technologies. Supported by Packet Tracer, these courses explore integrated technologies as well as programming skills. This course is approximately 24hrs. There are additional IoT courses covering Big Data + Analytics, Security and Connecting Things - each of these require prior accreditation (offered for free) and are an estimated 50hrs each.

Packet Tracer - this is a free for education network simulator. Any Cisco Academy can use this for all of their students, on all computers in all classes. Packet Tracer covers an extensive range of technologies, including programmable IoT devices.

As a Cisco Academy, you are not obliged to teach all courses - consider this to be a library of educational resources. Which you may select and adapt to fit your own academic objectives as well as those of your students.

In addition, we have worked with Birmingham City University, Cisco Systems and Computing at Schools to create a set of entry level formative resources (called computing for schools) via the Open Learn Create platform. Please feel free to access, share and make use of these resources.

Which courses require prior teacher accreditation!

Which courses require prior teacher accreditation!

Cisco, the Open University and all other Cisco Academy Instructor Training Centres maintain an open model for training and accreditation. This means you can go to anyone anywhere if you wish. The following courses require prior teacher (known as instructor) accreditation based on their direct route to industry accreditation and employment. The OU has been offering free teacher training for over three years. We will show any centre how to access this for free, via Andrew Smith - who is leading this

IT Essentials (CompTIA A+) - an extensive 70 hour course covering everything you have ever needed to know about computer systems, computer hardware, operating systems and hardware support. Aimed at the IT Technician - the IT Essentials from Cisco Systems is designed to align with the CompTIA A+ certification. Like all Cisco courses, there is a strong practical element - work can be accomplished using Packet Tracer as well as hands on and virtualised lab activities.

Networking Essentials - designed as a comprehensive introduction to networking. Like IT essentials and the model for all industry focussed course it is set at 70 hours. Any national (or degree) programme with a generic networking principles module can be supported by the content in this course. Like all Cisco courses, there is a strong practical element - work can be accomplished using Packet Tracer as well as hands on lab activities.

CCNA Routing and Switching - set as the flag ship industry associate level certification and at the core of the Cisco Netacad experience. This a portfolio of four separate sequential courses. each 70 hours, with practical hands on and Packet Tracer based activities. Students taking the first two (introduction to networking + routing and switching essentials) aim for the CCENT certification. Students taking the first two plus scaling networks and connecting networks aim for the full CCNA certification. This programme is a combined learning experience set at around 280 hours.

CCNA Security - designed to follow the first two courses from the CCNA Routing and Switching (introduction to networking + routing and switching essentials) - this 70 hour course focusses on securing network infrastructures using Cisco technologies.

CCNA CyberOps - designed to follow on from the 'free' cybersecurity courses - CyberOps set to be released early 2018 is focussed on the professional practice of managing and defending networks against 'back hat' and cyber attack vectors.

CCNP Routing and Switching ... Route, Switch and TSHOOT - three professional level courses, all also set at 70 hours a piece. Following on from the CCNA R+S, each of these explore core advanced certifications from Cisco Systems. Ideally set for degree level programmes, these can be offered by a range of Cisco Academies. However, anyone embarking on CCNP delivery must be aware of the hardware commitments associated with these courses. (this is being replaced by CCNP Enterprise, watch this space)

Courses with a modest cost ...

Courses with a modest cost

Currently there are only two specific courses with a per student cost - offered by NDG, the providers of the LPI Linux I and II courses. A teacher (known as an instructor) can take this course for themselves for free. However, if you enrol students this will cost $29 per student. Each of these are 70 hours, each are focussed on internationally recognised Linux professional certifications.

There is no requirement for any Cisco academy to take up these courses. They are offered as part of the wider portfolio of content within the Cisco Networking Academy programme.

Teacher accreditation (also known as instructor training)

Teacher accreditation (also known as instructor training)

You can teach any of the free courses without any formal training or teacher accreditation. Any Cisco Academy that adds a user and 'registers' them as an instructor enables that invididual to use their course content to teach:

  • Be your own boss
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Get Connected
  • Introduction to CyberSecurity
  • CyberSecurity Essentials
  • Introduction to IoT
  • Packet Tracer
  • Any programming course
  • Any Linux course

Ideally, the Open University as well as Cisco expect you (and your teaching colleagues) to read the content before teaching it to the students.

The following courses require the teacher (known as an Instructor in Cisco parlance), to be accredited. The instructor must attend formal training - this can be in person or via distance learning. All training is offered by formally recognised instructor training centres (known as ITC's). This may be the Open University who has a freelance instructor training team who operate independently of the university to maintain low costs. Or you may approach any other ITC globally. These courses are:

  • IT Essentials (linked to CompTIA A+)
  • CCNA Routing and Switching
  • CCNA Security
  • CCNA CyberOps
  • CCNP Route, Switch and TSHOOT

Additionally, the Open University has offered free mass instructor courses for CCNA1. With plans to offer others in the future. However, this is based on demand and external funding. It must not be seen as a guaranteed certainty. We are currently looking to offer additional opportunities.

Accreditation for the IoT Security, Big Data + Analytics and Connecting Things courses can be acquired via a free self-learning route within NetAcad.

Becoming a Cisco Academy (for free)

Becoming a Cisco Academy for Free!

This is an offer via the Open University Cisco ASC (academy support centre). You may approach other Cisco ASC's if you wish, however - they may not be able to offer any free support.

The route is simple, you need to apply via the netacad site ... the following video is a short (five minutes) demo of how to fill in the form. You must state that you wish to be affiliated with the Open University 'academy incubator'.

Once you have sent the application, please let us know.

Created By
Andrew Smith


Created with images by John Salvino - "untitled image" • Jonathan Velasquez - "untitled image" • doctorserone - "linux-logo" • sydney zentz - "untitled image" • Damian Gadal - "Storage Costs" • Mimzy - "back to school pencils rainbow" • Meditations - "art artistic blue"