Cisco Systems has unveiled a learning game placed in a real-world setting for IT professionals that offers instruction and assessment in virtual private network (VPN) capabilities. The game, which joins a series that includes the interactive Multi-Player Challenge and the information storage-focused SAN Rover, is available at the online CCNA Prep Center to anyone with a login for the Cisco Web site.
The premise of the game is that players are first-person participants in the role of a volunteer working for a nonprofit organization. The object is to score as many points as possible by successfully implementing a VPN for this client, which will allow volunteers in the field to correspond with headquarters. “In order to do that, you go through the process of contacting several different agents that work for the organization, each of whom has a piece of the information you need to complete the task,” said Don Field, director of certification at Cisco. “You collect that information on data sticks. To get those data sticks, you have to answer a question correctly, which are each worth points. Once you have the seven data sticks you need, you come back to the control room, sit down at the controls and go through the hands-on process to configure the concentrator. How quickly you complete the configuration tasks also affects the number of points you get.”
An interesting twist is that the client in this game is an actual non-profit organization. To add to the realistic atmosphere, Cisco used one of its many philanthropic partners, NetHope, which leveraging the Web to impact areas like education and health care in more than 100 developing countries. “There’s a natural connection between organizations like Cisco and NetHope,” Field said. “We felt that this was a nice opportunity to support a true non-profit organization by giving them some visibility while at the same time offering a technology learning game. At the bottom right when you launch the game, there is a link to nethope.org.”
Field said he is a big proponent of learning games. Because of their ability to simultaneously instruct and entertain, they attract large numbers of enthusiastic participants. “With the games we offer, we would like to attract people who like playing games and enjoy innovative ways of learning,” he said. “We’re quite confident that there are some people who have played the game already or will play it, not because they need to configure a VPN Concentrator, but because they like games with a technology bent. As far as we’re concerned, that’s wonderful.”
For more information, see http://www.cisco.com.