We changed the way network administration training is delivered across Cisco’s organization.
Alongside their hardware offerings, Cisco Systems is a leading provider of professional networking certifications. For years, a library-sized catalog of books and classroom-style courses made up the main paths of study.
Looking to the success of Code School’s technical training approach, Cisco’s learning team sought to expand the reach of their instructor-led content. Relegating years of failed attempts to the history books, they turned to Envy Labs to help define and implement the effort.
- UX Design
- Design System
- UI Design
Cisco had no shortage of content, but lacked the three components of an effective training platform: Content delivery, tracking user progress, and real-time assessments.
Interactive Networking Challenges
Multiple choice and matching questions have their place, but the networking giant saw a need to interact with actual devices — both real and virtualized.
Web software comes and goes, but Cisco wanted an eye on the horizon. Delivery would be the beginning of a cycle involving new departments, courses, and students.
Meeting of the Minds
Course instructors, content authors, contractors, users — finding the right place to start meant assembling the current creators and consumers for an in-depth dive into needs and objectives.
Mindful of organizational size and hierarchy, planning and research paired up with interactive prototypes to communicate and test direction.
Software that sticks around for years stagnates unless re-discovered. New features and new direction would be funneled through a similar process to avoid changes (or lack thereof) for the wrong reasons.
Subbing in for a number of sunsetting systems made flexibility king. Configuration options allowed content authors to bring the best approach to each topic — whether it’s a focus on videos, long-form text, practice exams, or other formats.
Originally meant as supplemental training, the course platform would eventually add certification exams. Timed challenges (and added stress) forced us to hit the reset button on what information was presented during assessments.
Even network administration training benefits from medals and achievements. Taking it a step further, achievements helped encourage users to take advantage of features like bookmarking and the glossary.
Content continues to be the hardest problem in instructional design, and we sought to meet the creators where they were. The application ingests XML from an existing Learning Management system to drive text, assets, challenges, and everything else course-related.
Network administrators are picky about device window arrangement. Rather than hit uncanny valley problems with our own custom implementation, the application uses WebSockets to sync multiple OS windows during challenges.
Emulated devices are great for simulating specific challenge solutions, but Cisco desired the creativity that live devices provide. Through command lines or VNC, users could interact directly with Cisco hardware.
With an on-brand design system and a course delivery platform unrivaled by Cisco’s previous offerings, we paved the way for 7 years (and counting) of continual content expansion. As their needs changed, so did the application — new and revised features paired to provide a modern learning experience.
Good technology travels fast. The platform’s success saw its use expand across the organization, serving as delivery method of choice for 100+ courses (and counting).