Cisco Levels Up Its Bundle of Online Games

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Cisco Systems has added two more learning games to its popular online suite of “edutainment” offerings of late. Cisco Certification Multi-Player Challenge: CCNA and Wireless Explorer, available to anyone with a login, are similar to preceding games like SAN Rover and Network Defenders in that they’re designed to be a fun introduction to certain areas of information technology, said Nader Nanjiani, marketing programs manager at Cisco.


“When we first launched the games, there was—and continues to be—remarkable interest on the part of learners,” he said. “They all had the same purpose in mind: familiarizing folks who are already acquainted with networking or interested to some extent with advanced technologies through a medium that is user-friendly, engaging, recreational and, most importantly, offers something of value in terms of content they can go back and refer to.”


In the Cisco Certification Multi-Player Challenge: CCNA game, participants compete with colleagues to answer CCNA practice questions individually or in teams. It has a “first-to-the-buzzer” format, which allows players to compete in 20-question rounds. Wireless Explorer provides networking professionals an opportunity to assess and develop their knowledge and skill while traveling around outer space by communicating with friendly aliens with wireless tools throughout the voyages.


“The multiplayer challenge is a learning exercise,” Nanjiani said. “It’s a way for someone to practice terms and their command over the content. By playing against another individual, it’s healthy competition. Wireless Explorer, on the other hand, is for those who are probably not thinking about wireless right now because they’re focused on other aspects of the network. But by engaging it with a game, they may get familiarized with the terminology, technology, concepts and fundamentals behind that, instead of having to pore through a white paper or some other medium. The intention of the wireless game was to be a low-cost way for an individual to learn about technology and terminology without having to spend the time and energy to read through documentation and such.”


While most people initially play the games as a kind of diversionary exercise, they inevitably end up learning a few things. In fact, focus-group discussions after the fact showed that games generally had an edge over self-paced study in terms of user retention and engagement, Nanjiani said. “We know, from a post hoc study we did, that learning takes place. Many people assign a greater recreational value than learning value to the games. That tells me something. People perhaps start playing the game as recreation and the recreational context remains intact throughout the learning experience. For us, that’s good news, because people are more apt to return to those tools that they feel are fun and interesting than those they label in their minds as being purely learning. If they come for fun and learn something along the way, that’s great for us.”


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