The Cisco Learning and Certifications organization unveiled its new digital learning experience for partners and customers during Cisco Live 2022 that will provide the training IT administrators and partners are looking for to grow their own knowledge and fill skills gaps within their teams.
Cisco U. is an AI-powered online learning platform designed around learner needs, said Par Merat, vice president of Cisco Learning and Certifications. Cisco U. offers courses and a community for individuals or teams seeking training to earn a certificate, take on a new role, or create a new IT solution.
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“At the end of the day, what we’re trying to do is solve problems and provide information and knowledge so that [IT professionals] can succeed in their careers,” Par Merat, vice president of Cisco Learning and Certifications, told CRN.
And right now, learning is hot, she says. “Were [focused on] how we scale our program and meet our community where they are because the world has changed. So we are introducing a new learning experience,” Merat said during Cisco Live 2022.
“The thing that [partners] tell Cisco and most of our technology partners is that our biggest obstacle to growth is recruiting qualified people. To be able to have better access and be able to do self-assessment and develop the new skills that everyone is looking for, it not only allows our team, it also allows our end users to have a better experience with this technology” said Kent MacDonald, senior vice president of strategic alliances at solutions provider Long View Systems, a Cisco Gold Partner based in Alberta, Canada.
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Getting the right skills is a headwind many companies face, MacDonald said. Long View is interested in training on security, cloud and software-defined technologies. Cisco U., which has been injected with AI, will give partners and customers helpful recommendations on where to go next, he said.
“Sometimes that’s the other challenge: I’m not sure what I need or what I have to do. This feature will help us not to feel lost in the sea of formations,” he said. “More skills mean more transformation for our business.”
The platform includes pre-skills assessments, modular learning, advanced search and a focus on goal setting, Merat said. It also offers personalized recommendations and feedback and can guide learners through the process. Cisco U. also offers learning content for certain third-party technologies from Cisco’s partner technology vendors.
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The ability to make recommendations to users on new training is “well overdue,” said Joe Berger, senior director of the digital workspace practice at partner Cisco World Wide Technology.
“It brings a bit more continuity to the workouts,” Berger said. “I think it helps train engineers and technicians and creates avenues for them to dive deeper into a specific technology.”
Cisco U. users will also be able to tap into the community to easily interact with others and exchange ideas, said Gary Tondini, senior director of experiences for Cisco Learning and Certifications. “That’s sort of the future direction we want to take – we call it a blended learning approach. But it starts with this digital-first approach to bringing learning and amazing content together in one place, and then bringing people in.
Over time, users will also be able to enroll in in-person classes in addition to the digital learning experience, Tondini said.
Cisco U. itself isn’t “revolutionary,” but it meets IT professionals where they are, he said. “Historically, when we get a little bit of information from someone and help them set a goal or nudge them, our completion rate is considerably better than when someone comes on that impersonal site and that he doesn’t care about the trip or the finish,” Tondini said.