This is an old one. It’s from February 2007

Swedish CISCO instructor goes to the Philippines

By Bo Lindborg, Blackeberg gymnasium

I am currently working as a CISCO instructor at a local academy in Stockholm, Sweden. My academy is in an Upper Secondary school, with students between 16 and 20 years of age – in Swedish our school/academy is referred to as “Blackebergs gymnasium”. I currently teach the following subjects: web development, programming languages and networking. I have worked as a teacher since 1995 and as a Cisco instructor since 2002.

In being part of the world-wide CISCO educational family, I strongly believe that an active sense of international collaboration is an integral part of the school. Thus, it has been my distinct pleasure in taking classes from Blackeberg on a regular yearly basis to Estonia for lab work with some of the academies located there. In addition, I am in the midst of trying to find possibilities to cooperate with schools in Italy, Spain, Finland and many other European countries.

Partly due to my strong interest in building country-to-country alliances as well as my present contacts with the Swedish Filipino community, I am very eager to establish CISCO ties with the Philippines. Recently I began to do some preliminary investigations in seeking contacts there. Last fall I participated at the Cisco Netacad 10-year anniversary in Istanbul, Turkey and had the opportunity to meet some of the folks at Cisco CO headquarters. Paul Mountford – a CISCO executive – and I had some thought-provoking conversations about the Cisco Emergency market which, in turn, got me thinking about the idea to send my students to other more distant countries to help build networks.

I started searching for contacts using the Academy Netspace arena and also contacted Aine Doris and Nuno Guarda to get help finding a contact there. It resulted in coming into contact with Ms. Maria Salud De Los Santos who is the legal head contact person at the University of Cebu (UC) in the Philippines..

After getting both logistics and itinerary in place, I flew off to the Philippines in February of this year. On my day of arrival the18th of February I had scheduled a meeting with Ms. De Los Santos. She took me for a round trip tour of UC whereupon I was able to visit different classes and meet the dynamic students of the college. I truly felt very welcomed in every class that I met whether it was the computer science classes or the mathematics and programming classes.

I told them about my school. How schools function in Sweden – both similarities and differences.
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UC has 3000 students studying IT of a total school population of 41 000 students. There are five different campuses around Cebu city. My school in Sweden has only 1000 students and 60 of them currently are part of the Cisco net academy program.

Studies at university, Upper Secondary schools and even lower levels are tuition-free in Sweden. You even get stipends/grants to study at the higher levels of schooling like, for example, at the university. Here in the Philippines students have to pay for their studies. The fee for a student who wants to take a CCNA course at UC is set at 19 000 Pesos ( 475 USD). To put this sum in proportion, imagine that most people there are happy if they earn 100 pesos a day(2 USD)., Some universities have a scholarship program that makes it possible for a few students without economical resources to study there.

I also had an appointment with Mr. Augusto W. Go, the owner and President of UC. who is Korean origin. I told him about my mission there and that I wanted to find ways for collaboration between our schools.

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Next day I had a meeting with the Cisco instructors at UC. They have a total of 10 instructors.. They are teaching CCNA 1 to 4 and now they have classes in Exploration courses. In turn, I am the only one at my academy. I have started one Discovery and one Exploration course at my academy.

There is no doubt in my mind that our Cisco Net academy is terrific and it is something unique. We use the same curriculum all over the world which allows instructors like myself to teach Cisco courses anywhere. This global phenomenon is obviously also advantageous for students because it allows them to perfect their networking skills wherever they want. As consequence of this noticeable yet novel feature, I take my students to visit other Cisco Academies in the world.

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Meeting the Cisco instructors in the Philippines was a very pleasant experience to say the least. It was very interesting when we realized that we had the same problems to get students to understand how this Cisco course can give them a new career opportunities and a brighter outlook on life. A recurring subject in our conversations was the question of how to convince our students that this Cisco program can change lives and perspectives.

We also took note of the fact that our students have the same practical problems with the labs. Just to share with you and example: During the course of my visit I saw that they had just done the CCNA 3 Vlan labs – that is to say the same labs I did 3 weeks prior to my departure. It immediately evoked a short discussion as we gave each other vital feedback.

Maybe the most interesting discussion we had was about instructor exchange. A most plausible scenario is for one of their instructors to come to my academy and lead the classes for 6 months and I could do likewise there.

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During the last day of my visit at UC, I had the opportunity to join a networking competition. They had, since some years ago, a network-building competition between academies in the Philippines. The five teams participating were from Manila, Cebu and Mindanao.

 

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As tradition requires, the competition started with the listening of the national anthem and the school’s own song. Thereafter, I was given the opportunity to present myself, my mission and a bit about my academy to the audience at hand.

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Directly after, the competition started with a written exam. 50 difficult questions had to be answered in 45 minutes. Thereafter, it was time for skills exam. Each team had 15 minutes to discuss how to solve the problem that was put forth. Then they had 45 minutes to do it with three 2800 routers and 3 switches. I can not tell you exactly how the skill test was formulated, because there were so many people who worked very hard to make this exam possible. But, I can say that it included DHCP, EIGRP, ACLs, VLAN and WAN link encapsulations.

I wish it would have been possible for me to have one team there too. As a result of this inspiring event, I am planning to have network competitions like this in Sweden.

Conclusion

This was a short review of my stay in the Philippines. I am planning to go back there very soon as I really love that country. I felt so welcomed at UC. Who knows? Maybe I can find a way for working in the Philippines some day. My next trip is to Estonia in Europe. I will go there with my CCNA 4 course. My students are going to meet students from IT-college in Tallinn, Estonia, to do some labs together.

I am also in the midst of starting to build networks with an academy in Uganda, Africa. I hope that it will be possible for me to visit them this year.

Let me take this opportunity to thank all the people around me who have helped me to find contacts, the liaisons at Cisco, and the leadership at my school that graciously allowed me visit Cisco Events during the school year. Also, to my friends and colleagues who helped me with editing papers such as this.

Meeting other academies is my main way in finding opportunities for collaboration. In this sense, there is no better path in sharing insightful experiences between academies. Let it be known wide and clear that student should truly appreciate that the Cisco academy is global and worldwide. Let everyone know that Cisco Academy program makes things happen and it changes lives.

My future dream is to build bridges between Cisco academies all over the world. If anyone is interested to know more about my projects, please write to me.

Bo Lindborg ( e-mail: bo.lindborg@stockholm.se )

Blackeberg Upper Secondary School