High Schools Get Wi-Fi Admin Training

By Eric Griffith

January 07, 2003

Trying to jumpstart the next generation of wireless LAN managers, Planet3 Wireless is providing its WLAN administration curriculum for free to any school that wants it.

Planet3 Wireless of Atlanta, GA, the group behind the Certified Wireless Network Professional (CWNP) training program, is making its Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA) course materials available for free to school districts in the United States that want to teach high school students how to run a wireless LAN.

The program, called Wi-School, is completely free to districts that wish to participate. Schools that sign up get a copy of the 400 page CWNA Study Guide in PDF format (usually $29.95 by itself), a course guide with eight lab exercises, and an instructor's presentation in PowerPoint format -- all materials are electronic.

Schools will also get access to new, online-only CWNA practice tests as well, which will be launched next week.

The only items the school may need to pay for are the Wi-Fi products needed for lab work: a mix of access points, USB and PC Card clients, an Ethernet to Serial converter, and a couple of Ethernet hubs, which the company estimates can be had for less than $500 at most local computer stores. The Wi-School course has six 2-hour hands-on lab exercises as part of the class.

CWNA is the first level of certification in Planet3's vendor-neutral CWNP program. The full $2500 class for IT pros is usually taught in 5-day sessions at training and covers everything from radio frequency technologies to 802.11 network security, with the emphasis (30% of the grade) on implementation and management. They offer a security course (CWSP) and have integrator (CWNI) and expert (CWNE) courses in the works.

While the CWNA course is generally is only taught by instructors who've previously passed the course with an 80% score or better, the Wi-School program version can be taught by any instructor with basic networking knowledge. The final CWNA exam is given in a proctored environment by Planet3 partner Prometric, which has test centers around the country and the world. The retail price to take the CWNA exam is $175, but school teachers can download vouchers for students so they can take the exam for only $100. After that, according to Kevin Sandlin, CEO of Planet3 Wireless, students can "say they're a CWNA and go into the work force with a solid knowledge of WLANs."

A number of schools have already been signed up for Wi-School in a pilot program, and are listed on the company Web site. Sandlin says Planet3 manually verifies every one of the schools that signs up to make sure there's no funny business. The site also has links to documents for evaluating the curriculum for those on the fence.

The goal of the Wi-School program is, as stated on their Web site FAQ, "to educate the next generation of IT professionals in wireless networking." Planet3 hopes it will help turn out thousands of trained students ready to get into major wireless LAN training after graduation.

Eric Griffith is the managing editor of 802.11 Planet.

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