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WirelessU: Unified Wireless Training

See our concept paper in PDF format here.

For the past decade, several expert groups (including the APC, EsLaRed, the ICTP, Inveneo, IT+46, wire.less.dk, and others) have sponsored training sessions to teach low-cost wireless network building techniques to IT professionals from all over the world. These activities are creating a global social network of skilled professionals, as well as a large body of useful, practical information about jumpstarting local telecommunications projects. These people, the projects they undertake, and the experiences they share have all become instrumental in creating effective local change in developing countries.

The combined efforts of these and other network training efforts currently reach 300 to 500 people per year, many of whom go on to design and implement wireless networking projects that solve their own telecommunications problems.

The goal of WirelessU is to increase the number of qualified, trained individuals to 5,000 or more per year. We are working towards this goal by providing a standardized and open approach to hands-on training, and providing universal access to our training materials and techniques.

WirelessU does not organize training sessions itself. We promote a common understanding of how such training programs may be offered by providing a template, curricula, and a list of instructors experienced in providing such training in the developing world. We have built a professional, continually updated curriculum created by internationally recognized experts in the field. We hope to socialize this concept and provide our template to organizations that wish to host a training session, as well as to organizations that might help fund such activities. The ultimate goal is to allow quality wireless training courses to be offered many more times, by different organizations in different places, while simultaneously drawing on and expanding our group of experienced trainers.

Local WirelessU Classes

While we represent a unique coalition of talented experts in the field of wireless training, we recognize that our reach is limited by our numbers. It is therefore our hope that organizations will offer their own WirelessU course, drawing on our methods and materials. Local training makes a lot of sense from the point of view of logistics:

  • Local classes reduce cost. By reducing the cost of hosting training events, more students can be reached for the same amount of money.
  • Local classes increase attendance. Hosting a training event at a local venue (such as a University, community center, or library) provides an opportunity for more people to participate, including many who simply cannot afford to travel to Europe or the U.S.A.
  • Bringing students to a central training center is expensive and difficult. The logistical considerations of lodging, transportation, and visas often account for far more than half the cost of sponsoring a training event.
  • Lab supplies for classes cost very little. The cost of wireless equipment and supplies continues to drop, making it feasible to import or locally procure all of the materials necessary to host a training session at a local venue.

Our challenge is to encourage organizations to make use of our materials and instructors without compromising the quality of the training. To help maintain our own high quality standards, we have specific recommendations about class size, student prerequisites, and minimum training time. We also provide comprehension tests and training feedback forms, to help gauge the progress of students and to improve our curricula for future events.

Prerequisites

We expect that potential students already have basic experience in the use of computers and networking. This includes:

  • The ability to open, save, copy, and manipulate files using Linux or Windows
  • A working knowledge of basic Unix shell commands
  • Familiarity with modern web browsers, such as Firefox or Internet Explorer
  • Competency in the use of a text editor
  • Basic understanding of TCP/IP networking concepts, such as IP addressing and routing

Additional experience in configuring WLAN networks is helpful, but is not required.

We also recommend that potential students are actively attached to an institution with access to a computer network. The skills taught in this training program provide a solid introduction to the field, but this must be reinforced with continuing real-world application.

Courses

See our Curriculum page for details about the different courses offered by WirelessU.