Report on HopeAi Project for Delivering the Cisco Certified Network Associate Course (CCNA1) at VSP

  • Overview:

After multiple presentations by the HopeAi team, the project was authorized by Senior CDCR Managers to commence at the Valley State Prison in November 2021, to confirm the viability of delivering to inmates in California State prisons STEM Professional Career Technical Courses leading to Industry-Recognized Certificates and better paying jobs. The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA1) course was selected as representative of the technical complexities and challenges of the target STEM Technical Career Courses and Certificates offered by the Industry-Recognized High-Tech Companies in partnership with HopeAi, including Meta, Google, Amazon, Cisco and Microsoft.

With repeated COVID related interruptions, the project took much longer to conclude than the target 15 weeks.  However, in spite of all the interruptions, the goals of the project were successfully achieved, and valuable lessons gained. These lessons are of great value in the effort to scale the delivery of the proposed STEM Career Technical Courses and Certifications to all CDCR prisons.

  • Project Description, Delivery Modality & Goals: 

 The accelerating adoption of digital transformation and advanced technologies in all industries and businesses nation-wide require specific technical training for individuals of all backgrounds beyond digital literacy.  Professional career technical certificate programs not only do not require college degrees and take less time to complete than college degree programs but also can offer job seekers high wages that equal or sometimes exceed those with college degrees. Furthermore, professional career technical certificate programs are the most efficient in developing self-esteem and soft skills such as critical thinking and collaborative teamwork among students.  These skills are necessary for successful reentry and providing major reduction in recidivism and significant social impact on the inmates and their communities

Twelve inmates were selected by the Education Department at VSP. The students had access to a computer lab two hours a day during the weekdays. HopeAi Subject Matter Expert (SME), Dr. Wael AbdelJabbar, delivered a synchronous lecture each Monday providing directions, guidance and mentoring to the inmates. The completion of the CCNA1 Course was targeted in a 15-week trimester.

The inmates were allowed restricted access to HopeAi Educational Platform and Cisco Networking Academy ( website. Presentations and video recordings of the synchronous lectures were recorded and posted on HopeAi Platform for on-demand access by inmates.  Security of the access was validated and authorized by CDCR SSE and EIS teams.The network simulation tool, Cisco Packet Tracer was installed on the lab computers.

The project had several specific goals. 

  1. To measure the effectiveness of delivering to inmates advanced STEM Technical Career Courses leading to Industry-Recognized Certificates. Will the inmates be able to absorb the advanced STEM technical material and pass the final exam leading to the Industry-Recognized Certifications?

  2. To test the effectiveness and scalability of the hybrid STEM material delivery modality.

  3. To test the security of delivering material online through HopeAi Education Platform working with the existing CDCR infrastructure without further addition. This is important for efficient scaling of the STEM Career Technical Courses and Certificates to all CDCR sites.

  • Implementation:
  1. The first CCNA1 class was restricted to 12 inmates due to COVID spacing. 

  2. Repeated interruptions due to COVID and fog lock downs stretched the class delivery time to >56 weeks from a target of 15 weeks.

  3. With the extended interruptions, the classroom teacher improvised and made copies of the material to be available to the inmates in their dorms.

  4. One of the inmates was released before he was able to write the final exam. 

  5. Two of the inmates were transferred from VSP to another prison, thus preventing them from writing the final exam.

  6. Revisions of the interfaces with the recent upgrades of CDCR Workspace and proxy migration were timely implemented by the EIS and SSE in efficient cooperation with the HopeAi team.   

  • Achieved Results:

The results of the project were truly outstanding in spite of the extended interruptions. 

See the attached Spread Sheet of the inmates ‘scores for the six tests of the CCNA1 Course Modules and the Final Exam downloaded directly from the Cisco website.

All 12 inmates completed the CCNA1 Course by December 2022. 

One inmate was released in December prior to writing the final exam.

Two inmates were transferred from VSP to another prison and could not write the final exam.

Two inmates were transferred to other functions at VSP and could not write the final exam.

The seven inmates who were allowed to write the final exam scored 96% to 100% and their final grades were: 1 A+, 4 A, & 2B+.  

Cisco Senior Management would like to participate in a publicity event to deliver the Certificates of Completion to the inmates at VSP highlighting the effectiveness of its Career Technical Courses and Certificates in the rehabilitation of inmates and their preparation for successful re-entry in society. See attached copies of the Certificates signed by Chuck Robbins, Chairman & CEO of Cisco, and Laura Quintana, VP & GM of Cisco Networking Academy. 

Goal#1 Inmate Performance: 

The inmates achieved results comparable to students in Community Colleges and State Universities. The inmates were engaged, motivated and challenged to learn and improve their lives. The role of the experienced SME proved critical to properly engage and motivate the inmates. 

Goal#2 Scalability Hybrid Modality: 

The hybrid delivery modality has been very effective. Student had ample time to go through the material guided by reviews and instructions by the experienced SME. The results demonstrate the effectiveness and importance of this hybrid modality for such advanced STEM Courses leading to Industry-Recognized Certificates.

Goal#3 Security: 

CDCR EIS and SSR teams tested the security of HopeAi Educational Platform and website. During the project, the access by inmates at VSP of the HopeAi Education platform and Cisco met CDCR security requirements.

  • Recommendations for Future Deployment:

  1. Uninterrupted online access is recommended by allowing the inmates access to computers near their dorms.

  2. Whenever feasible, printed material of the courses should be available to deal with possible interruptions.

  3. Moving student inmates to other locations to be considered with the goal of continuing their courses.

  4. Proper selection of inmates to ensure their course and final exam. completion before release.

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