Growing our little ole Cisco ASC ...

Around eighteen months ago the Open University became a Cisco ASC (academy support centre) ... keen to help support Cisco Academies that have been struggling in the current educational climate in the UK and offer an academy that could do this without the cost expectations of the more traditional model.

The problem was threefold -
Cisco Academies need a route to enter the programme without the upfront costs or risks. Consider this a try before you buy. When the Linux Essentials and Internet of Things courses came online there was suddenly a route where we could enable academies to operate with instructors who did not require training in advance.
Our former ASC was about to collapse due to corporate reticence. The Cisco Instructor leading this academy, is considered to be a very capable soul and still had a number of academies who would prefer their support.
There are some academies out there, operating in charities or centres with a specialist student base that cannot afford the normal support and training costs involved with CCNA teaching.
The OU does exceptionally well out of our CCNA, CCNA-S and CCNP programmes. With a little cunning and using our presence within the Cisco academic community - we stopped a little while and started thinking. Supported by some gentle arm twisting and sagely guidance from a good friend in Cisco Systems. We also opted to become an ITC (instructor training centre), enabling us to offer training for Cisco Instructors.

Rather than presenting this as a OU operation, the OU ASC is positioned as a community endeavor. Currently we enjoy the support of a couple of long standing Cisco Instructors who are also associate lecturers for the  OU. They help us support the community and take on private consultant contracts between for support and training when required. As everything is managed via a separate Cisco Academy 'object' within Netacad.

There is no connection to the OU's daily Cisco activities. Enabling us to grow the support community and keep the costs for any potential Cisco Academy down to 'low' or 'zero' depending on the approach they prefer. Apart from some special projects, it runs itself for low-cost/no-cost and is self funding through the support of a couple of great ASC consultants.

This model is working, we have six academies being incubated, seven being directly supported by our consultants and eight in the special projects domain - those who could not operate via a more traditional model. Part of what I love about this arrangement is we are supporting some academies who are in turn helping us support others - free and quid pro quo.

We are in no rush to grow, but pleased to see in eighteen months a total of twenty one active academies.


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