First Nations communities across Canada are taking a mixture of in-class and e-learning courses from Cisco that could help students maintain the very networks through which the material is being delivered. For some communities, e-learning is the only alternative available to aboriginal students looking

to learn or augment technical skills, said Randy Johns, general manager for the Keewatin Career Development Corp., one of the First Nations organizations participating in the Cisco program.

Cisco Systems Networking Academy is providing certification courses and IT instruction to First Nations communities across Canada with the participation of the federal government. The curricula include several Cisco certifications like CCNA and CCNP and course material in fibreoptics, Linux, IP telephony, applications management and other IT fields. The program is currently in pilot with about 50 aboriginal students with two introductory IT courses that teach students how to build a computer, install operating systems and understand the basic tenets of network management.

Keewatin Corp., based in La Ronge, Sask., is one of half a dozen aboriginal groups involved in the program. Others include the Sunchild Cyber School in Alberta and K-Net in Ontario. The various institutions use different delivery methods and applications to provide the e-learning classes and require a common standards approach to the course material.

“”That seems to be the right approach,”” said Johns. “”We didn’t want to tie it into one particular platform, because with six different groups across the country, we had six different ideas of what the best platform was.””

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