It was not long ago that I looked at the packet tracer online course that was offer at Cisco Network Academy for free. I think it was a good introduction to see how networking works in the small working environment, but I felt that it was lacking core skills. Well, I took CCNA R&S: Introduction to Networks and I have to say that I like it. I mean, I like it a lot.
The problem for people who takes this course is that you need to take this course at a real location and the cost is determine by the institution. At my local community college, it cost $50 a unit; therefore, this 3 unit program cost about $150. However, if you add the one textbook, school fees, and the parking permit, then the total should be about $400 for this 8-week class. It’s kind of expensive for me, but it was the cheapest option at southern California. I cut my cost to $350 by using a very old edition international book that was like $25 at eBay.
Anyway, this class covers the OSI model (7 layers) and also the TCP/IP (4 layers) in great details.
Of course, this course uses the Packet Tracer software and I can say this software makes me feel like I am configuring real switches and routers interfaces. So, I can say this class strongest points is that the software you are using mimics the real Cisco IOS software.
Now so far I like the class, but I have to say that one of the weakest part of this course is that Packet Tracer is not supported for the Mac. You need to use a Windows or a Linux computer if you want to use packet tracer. Another problem is that when doing some quizzes and test online, the Chrome browser can’t do the java applets. So if you are doing a quiz that needs to use an applet, use Firefox version 52 or below on a windows 7 machine.
Now, you also have to do some quizzes, tests, and some online activities. After all this class will have to test your progress and knowledge. I got an A after this quick 8-week course.
Did I like it? I say yes. Is it like TestOut's LabSims? Its different, but I can see some similarity. For example, when I took TestOut Client Pro, it felt like an online class that prepares you for terms, quizzes, and the virtual labs helps you understand the concepts. LabSim felt balanced.
For the Introduction to Networks, I think I spent more on my time with the Packet Tracer software. I believe that the software and the final project took more time to do. Maybe it’s because I have some knowledge from my previous school work and experience that made it easier to learn the networking terms.
Well, I had fun, but I heard that the next course will be tougher due to the fact that this course was an introduction to networking. Well, I already registered for the next course and I will write what so special about Routing and Switching Essentials in the end of the year.