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Student and tutor module reviews

Cisco networking (CCNA)

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  • Points: 60
  • Code: T216
  • Level: 2
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Student reviews

T216 is a hard 60-credit module at OU level 2 that covers the full Cisco CCNA Routing; Switching curriculum and a bit more.

All of the material provided by the OU is ONLINE ONLY.
This means that studying is restricted to when you can get access to the Internet.

I found that I needed to buy the 4 Cisco Companion Guides at additional cost in order to accommodate my business travel and personal life.
These were very good, and linked with online material very well.

I also found that having physical books helped me with notetaking and were easier on my eyes, given that I also have an eye condition that means that I can get tired using screens all the time.

The module is budgeted at 20 hours per week, but I spent more time on it than that. It is the sort of module that you could spend infinite amounts of time on.

This module is definitely one that gives back what effort you put into it.

Anthony John Gibbs

Course starting: October 2014

Review posted: September 2015

What a module! This module was one of the best I have done, don't get me wrong it was extremely hard and time consuming but I learnt so much from it.

I spent at least 10 hours on each TMA except for TMA04 (this TMA is where you create a network using various routing protocols and can reduce you to tears!). The workload for the module itself is 4 big books (all accessable via netacad; you do not get physical books) with at least 11 chapters per book.

The recommended reading time for the chapters is over a week for two. This seems fine if you keep your notes minimal. I studied by doing long notes whilst reading the material, then reducing for shorter notes for the exam revision purposes.

The TMAs will lead you into a false sense of high scores, this is not a good plan to base your predicted OES on your OCAS. The exam is a written theory based exam which I managed to get 70% in, my OCAS was 97%. The TMAs are practical assignments and of course open book. The exam is hand written and three hours, closed book.

The day schools were very hands on and fun to participate in. Our day school tutor was not our OU tutor and had been working in the industry a while so had a wealth of knowledge and experience to offer. Day schools also contain 4 exams (one at the end of each) which is multiple choice. This is based on the past book you have read. Day school 2 and 4 are the ones that need good scores from for Cisco certification discount.

I joined the module facebook group which was founded by friends from past modules and we had daily questions created by students in the group to aid learning. My tutor was epic, always on hand and fast turn around for TMA marks.

Rachel Hughes

Course starting: October 2014

Review posted: August 2015

This is a very in-depth module on Cisco networking. The suggested time for studying per week was only a guide for me. I found that I spent any spare time I had studying this module, not only because it is very intensive but also because the knowledge gained from this module is worth it's weight in gold. I would advise to keep to the study schedule, and master all labs possible as ultimately this is what Cisco networking is all about.

Eben Hopson

Course starting: January 2013

Review posted: July 2014

A well presented course with excellent support from peers and tutor.

The work load was tough and only just do-able. Be prepared to be challenged and spend a lot of time working with Packet Tracer and sub-netting.

I found the written exam very tough, this was due partly to the fact that I had 2 broken arms! I really didn't want to fail the course so I did the best I could. If you intend to do this course my advice would be to fully emerse your self in it - and avoid motorbikes!

Mark Chamberlin

Course starting: January 2012

Review posted: August 2013

This is not a course to take on lightly; it has a fairly heavy work load and is very demanding in terms of the hours you will have to put into it in order to achieve a good grade. I wouldn't recommend this course for someone with zero IT knowledge as I could see from the forums that many were struggling badly with this course from early on.

Be aware that you will get no printed material at all on this course and personally I didn't like the cisco net academy at all and ended up buying the printed books to use, so if you really prefer to work from printed material this will be an extra cost.

This course has four mandatory day schools which while useful to an extent could probably have been condensed; I felt the main aim of the day school was to get a closed book environment in order to administer the end of semester exams.

Perhaps the most disappointing thing was that one of the exam questions contained an error which is bad enough but what I found inexcusable was that the error was spotted but the errata issued by the invigilator before the exam contained the same error.

Overall it's a great course as part of a degree, if you are just looking for the CCNA than there are probably easier ways to get it, I learned an awful lot from this course and did much better in the exam than I expected, I didn't think a distinction was a realistic possibility but was surprised to only miss it by a few marks.

Course starting: January 2012

Review posted: January 2013

This was a very enjoyable and rewarding course. It is probably best to start with some sort of IT background as it gets detailed and complicated very quickly. You must get to grips with subnets, its key to most of the course. The online material is very well presented through the Cisco Netacad website; each chapter features small quizzes to test you before the end of chapter exam. This then gets you ready for the four end of 'term' closed book exams taken on the day schools.

The TMAs were actually quite fun to do, its really rewarding getting a network setup from scratch.
I really feel I have taken a lot from this course, although the amount that has to be learnt is overwhelming. This leads me on to my only two negative points:

Firstly for the cost of the course, I think it's appalling that the OU do not provide any material other than the online material. The 4 books can be bought from Amazon for around £25 each, and ebooks can also be bought from Cisco Press or Amazon for the same price. Personally I found the books a real lifeline for when I did not have access to the internet, it's a real shame the OU don't provide the books or at the very least heavily subsidise their cost.

Secondly the way the course is graded leaves me very puzzled, overall there are 5 TMAs, 4 end of term exams in exam conditions and a final 3 hour exam. That's not including the 30+ end of chapter exams you do at home. The final grade is calculated as the lowest of you final exam score and your overall TMA score. There is an awful lot to remember for the final exam, so you can get 100% on each of your TMAs but it's irrelevant if you don't match that performance on your exam. After so many assessments, I feel I proved myself enough before the final exam. It has left me feeling that I have been cheated out of a higher grade by the OUs grading policy. 1 more mark was literally the difference for me. If it was an average, it wouldn't have been an issue.

But if you're not bothered about that, it is an interesting and hard course at the same time. My advice is find the time to study, buy the books, and then keep the same intensity through to the final exam. Enjoy it, I know I did. If you get over 75% in your final day school exam, you also get a huge discount on the Cisco accreditation.

Craig Derrick Oxford

Course starting: January 2012

Review posted: November 2012

Faculty response

We’re delighted you found T216 enjoyable and rewarding.

T216 is delivered online to make use of the Cisco academy materials. Books are not included in order to keep costs down. This gives you the option of whether or not to purchase the books, and also choose the type of media you may wish to use as Kindle editions are also available.

The module grading used is the same as for many Open University modules and is outlined in the Student Assessment Handbook. T216 incorporates an examination to help those students who are practising for Cisco certification.

T216 Module Team

Hardest course to date, not working in IT I found the course challenging, with a massive learning curve. Having now passed and looking back I have found it very rewarding.

Course starting: January 2012

Review posted: November 2012

Great course! Started with basic networking knowledge in blissful ignorance...left happy to configure any router you like. Would recommend this to anyone who wanted to have a baptism of fire in networking like myself.

Good for experts too but beware some of the ways Cisco teaches things will irk you as it did some of my classmates.

The tutors for this course are excellent - turn to them if you are stuck no matter what it is they will always help you. The forums are excellent too other students are sometimes the best way to learn.

Stick with it, put the hours in, read around the subject and you will be rewarded. Shirk your study and you will fall behind. I learned an incredible amount and although it feels like you are taking nothing in you do. Good Luck to others who follow this path!

Course starting: January 2011

Review posted: January 2012

I noticed two types of people studying T216. Those that were there to attain a CCNA qualification post course and those who study it as part of a degree with a CCNA being a nice to have.

I fell into the latter category. The course takes you above and beyond what you need to know for the CCNA, however this is a good thing! The materials are excellent, the day schools are generally well run, the tutors were knowledgable and I'm overall very pleased with the course. My only major bug bear with the day-schools was that the equipment provided was often faulty which prevented tasks being completed - rather frustrating. But the online-virtual network provided was flawless and a great tool!

I heard many dissenting voices on the student forums with regards course content, however I will say I found a lot of complaints a little unfair. I came into T216 with the sum total of my networking knowledge limited to network card + ethernet cable + modem/router = internet. However, I have come out the other side with a wealth of knowledge and, most importantly, experience that I can relate to the real world and my working life! Exactly what I wanted from an OU course and the degree as a whole!

The other thing to bear in mind is that what you learn on T216 is not limited to teaching you how to configure Cisco equipment. It teaches you about networking and, for me, being able to set up Cisco gear served as a great way to implement what I was learning. You undertake configuration physically in the day schools, virtually at home with Packet Tracer and semi-virtually as you are provided access to your school's infrastructure of real routers, virtual machines and other bits and pieces. A great idea and well worth trying out!

I found, however, that this is not an easy course! And nor should it seem to be as a 60-point Level 2 course. There is a lot to get in your head and I found I had to read everything twice and basically live and breath it for 9 months. I would not advise studying another course concurrently with T216 if you work full time! I felt a lot of dissenting voices from my peers were from people who had fallen irrecoverably behind or had just not put the time in to learn the materials! There is a lot of it, so be prepared for lots of quiet time!

I gained a distinction in T216 and I think it is simply due to the time I invested in it. It doesn't need every waking moment, but it's a significant chunk. If I could do it - knowing NOTHING about networking at all to start with - then I feel that you can only fail by not putting the time in and studying hard. The TMAs offer a great method of feedback to identify weaknesses and the tutor's advice was always fair and constructive.

To summarise: great course, great materials, great tutors, but it's a hard course and needs the time investing in it!

Jon-Paul McCarthy

Course starting: January 2011

Review posted: January 2012

I REALLY enjoyed this course, but as another reviewer stated, if you sign up for it purely to do the CCNA
there are probably other less arduous routes. This course covers the Cisco CCNA material in full, using Cisco online academy, to which you keep alumni access to after the course (providing you pass). It's hard work and very practical with lots of tools being supplied and used. You can't learn it unless you do it.

Course starting: February 2010

Review posted: June 2011

T216 is a demanding course with a lot of material to get through. The online Cisco materials are well presented, the routing module being particularly good, with the theory reinforced through simulations and the Netlabs system.

It is a worthwhile preparation for taking the industry certification, but if I'd purely wanted the CCNA qualification I may have done it via a different method.

Due to the pace of the course, keeping up with the study calendar is essential.

Course starting: February 2009

Review posted: June 2010

This is an excellent course for anyone wanting to get ahead in networking. The CCNA is a respected qualification within IT, and this course is excellent preparation for those wishing to sit the formal Cisco CCNA. It should be noted that doing well on this course and passing the end-of-course Open University exam DOES NOT get you the CCNA. You have to make your own arrangements and take the qualification exam separately. However, having said that, if you've worked through all the Open University material, took all the on-line tests and practised with some real routers then the CCNA itself should be well within reach.
It's a lot of work. It's not a course to take on lightly, as the material is quite extensive and you really need to buckle down and get on with it. If I could give one piece of advice for those considering this course I would say this: don't fall behind. There's a lot to get done, and you really need to keep up.
Last thought. The tutorials were regular, thorough, and really well taught. I did the ones at Sunderland, the instructor there, David Evans, really knows his stuff and puts it over very well.
One of the most enjoyable and rewarding courses I've ever done.

Steven Thompson

Course starting: February 2008

Review posted: September 2009

Please note

Each of the views expressed above is an individual's very particular response, largely unedited, and should be viewed with that in mind. Since modules are subject to regular updating, some of the issues identified may have already been addressed. In some instances the faculty may have provided a response to a comment. If you have a query about a particular module, please contact your Regional Centre.

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