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Exploring New Online Laboratory Modules For The Online Computer Networking Course

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.724.1 - 12.724.15

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Paper Authors


Fanyu Zeng Indiana Wesleyan University

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F. FRANK ZENG is an Assistant Professor in Computer Information Systems at Indiana Wesleyan University, Marion, Indiana while still working in IT industry as an independent IT consultant and trainer. His research interests include data communication, networking, database, software development and software engineering.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Exploring New Online Laboratory Modules for the Online Computer Networking Course


This paper presents a new set of learning laboratory modules for an online computer network course. These innovative laboratory modules are originally selected from existing computer network laboratory modules commonly used in a centralized laboratory. The goal to design these new laboratory modules is to provide online students with the same learning experience as students in a centralized laboratory. The philosophy for the new laboratory module design is to utilize simple networking devices, networking simulation software and Internet access from every online student’s home to carry out all the laboratories defined in these laboratory modules. These new distributed laboratory modules overcome the constraints caused by the unavailability of a centralized laboratory for online students. Because of these specially designed laboratory modules, online students have gained the same learning experience as students in a centralized laboratory.

1. Introduction

Computer network courses are traditionally conceptual in nature with an emphasis on opportunities for students to apply networking theory in their practices in order to strengthen their knowledge in the theory and develop their practical problem solving skills. Therefore, a laboratory environment is a key component in any computer network course. The lab design for new online computer network courses first encounters a number of constraints that traditional networking courses do not have. The key issue is that there is no centralized laboratory for online students to physically attend, nor does any online course module clearly define any feasible practice in the laboratory [9]. There are many onsite computer network laboratory modules used in a centralized laboratory with clear standards and requirements [6] [7] [9] [10]. A few online computer network training courses offer guidelines for an online network laboratory [5] [8]. Most of them rely solely on software simulations on specific networking devices [8]. There has not been an existing laboratory module for an online computer network course to meet the same standards and requirements defined in an onsite computer network course and laboratory.

Needless to say it has been a challenge to design networking laboratory modules for a networking course in online or distance learning programs where a laboratory is essential [8] [9]. In order to address this issue, it is necessary to study and develop a new set of laboratory modules for online programs with availability of distributed resources. The key contribution in these new modules is to overcome the constraints of the unavailability of a single laboratory for the online students. Although it is impossible to offer a centralized laboratory in this situation, the solution is to offer students another type of laboratory module by taking full advantage of availability of simple and inexpensive networking devices in a student home. Every online student can run networking simulation software on their PCs. Also, every online student has their own Internet

Zeng, F. (2007, June), Exploring New Online Laboratory Modules For The Online Computer Networking Course Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii.

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