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What is a virtual optical networking system?

A virtual optical networking system is a training tool to help you learn the key issues involved with planning and designing optical networks.

Why OTT developed a virtual optical networking system

Time is precious, we all know that, so making time count is important. At OTT we know that getting key learning points across effectively and efficiently helps to make a great training course.

When we first developed our optical networking courses, which focus on the design and planning of optical networks, this quickly presented us with a challenge. On the early courses we used real data sheets, with full detailed specifications for real systems. We also used real equipment set up as demonstration systems. It sounded ideal. But it quickly became obvious that it did not result in effective or efficient learning. Our delegates got weighed down in finding their way around the lengthy technical specifications. They found it difficult to sort out the key technical facts and figures from the, sometimes overwhelming, amount of information available. Full pricing information was also virtually impossible to obtain. When trainees used the practical demonstration equipment various practical issues, rather than design issues, used up too much time on the course, without adding anything to the learning experience.

We decided that there had to be a better way!
And so WhizzieKit, OTT’s very own virtual optical networking system, was born.

WhizzieKit has a full catalogue, just like you might get from a real optical networking system provider, with a wide range of products. However, the extent of the information is limited so that it is easier for trainees to get to grips with during the course and so that we can easily bring out specific learning points. We can also signpost interesting trends and developments.

It is important for training to have real context and to be engaging. Repetition of key points helps them stick, so that they become a familiar part of our known world. So, we integrated WhizzieKit into the scenarios which feed the case study assignments on our optical networking courses. The WhizzieKit catalogue is included on the trainee resources, along with introductory presentations from Sean Power, the Sales Manager of WhizzieKit.

A virtual system with a physical presence…

But we knew we had to go further than just creating an electronic catalogue of optical networking products.

With decades of experience in delivering learning, we know that holding and handling things makes them feel more real to us. It can drive a connection in our minds that helps make new concepts familiar and much less intimidating. So, we brought WhizzieKit to life and gave it a physical presence on the course, with helpful imagery. The trainers use relevant elements of WhizzieKit to hand around during the course when they discuss specific types of components. For example, the Raman amplifier cards easily show the way the safety feature is implemented and show the information flows and the direction of the pump laser power. This helps trainees visualise what is going on inside the  cards and the ‘inputs’ and ‘outputs’ that are needed. This is particularly useful for the OSC-WDM cards that are quite complex, so seeing and handling it help trainees understand what is connected to where.

And it works…

And when it comes to exercises and the assignment, then trainees can explore the products, move them about and use them to work out what kit is needed in what order at each end of a system to produce different solutions. This is extremely valuable in promoting discussion and debate amongst trainees. It really contributes to how their understanding develops as the course progresses. WhizzieKit may be light-hearted and not a real system, but you wouldn’t believe it if you were to listen in on some of the discussions between trainees on our courses!

A lot of time and effort went into the design and development of WhizzieKit to make it realistic in its function and performance and there are several graphic design features designed to promote understanding. But it has proved to be well worthwhile as it certainly works and has received a great response from trainees. You can experience it on our Certified Optical Network Associate (CONA) course which is run by our partners in the UK, USA, and Africa. Why not download our full catalogue of courses.

Do you need to explain to a manager or budget holder how the CONA course could help you or a team of colleagues improve your knowledge and skills in optical networking? You can find a leaflet about the virtual optical networking system we use on the courses here.

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