When most network administrators think of training and education, they envision a course of study or activities that will make them proficient and competent in a specific and practical technology. Often, this is an instructor-led class or a self-study book on a specific vendor's implementation. Equally often, these are oriented toward students who are very entry level. You may have even experienced the frustration of taking a mid- or advanced-level class and spending too much time on the basics and on things you could have learned simply by reading the manual.
If you're looking for something to really advance your knowledge in the field of networking, particularly from a more academic standpoint, check out some of the online classes at MIT. First, you might want to read about MIT's free "Open Courseware" at http://ocw.mit.edu. Then browse through some of their classes.
For network admins, there are three classes in particular that I think you'll find interesting and challenging. The first is "Data Communication and Networks." Reading through the class notes should help you understand some things, but will also generate a lot of questions. These can be answered by going to the references section.
The second class is "Computer Networks" which also features an interesting tools section.
And finally, "Network and Computer Security." The reading list here is excellent.
Tom Lancaster, CCIE# 8829 CNX# 1105, is a consultant with 15 years experience in the networking industry, and co-author of several books on networking, most recently, CCSPTM: Secure PIX and Secure VPN Study Guide published by Sybex.
Do you have comments on this tip? Let us know.