Asee peer logo

Using Network Analysis Software To Teach The Internet Protocol Stack In The Laboratory

Download Paper |


2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.1112.1 - 6.1112.5

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

William T. Lin

author page

Richard Pfile

Download Paper |

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

Session 2526

Using Network Analysis Software To Teach the Internet Protocol Stack in the Laboratory

Richard E. Pfile, William T. Lin

Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at Indianapolis


The stacked protocol concept is difficult to understand and to many students it’s an abstract notion. Although students are masters at memorizing tasks the different protocol layers perform, they don’t grasp fundamental concepts of how the protocol stack functions in computer communications. Message addresses reside at different layers in a stack, several stack layers perform different integrity checks, and handshakes can take place at different stack layers: all very confusing to students. In addition, several messages must usually be exchanged to get necessary information to make a connection and send data to a remote computer. The complexity causes students to loose sight of the big picture involved in the communication process.

This simple series of exercises in which communications packets are captured and displayed allows students to see the dynamics of the operation of a stacked protocol and mechanisms involved in computer communications. By capturing the real-time packets, the various mechanisms that allow messages to be sent between two computers within a room as well as between two computers in different states or countries are unfolded on the computer screen. Software designed for network troubleshooting can be easily used to bring the communications messages alive in the laboratory.


These laboratories are used in a beginning networking laboratory to give students first-hand experience examining network data packets. The software program, LANWatch, is used to capture the packets. LANWatch is a program designed to help troubleshoot networks and is capable of filtering and monitoring packet types specified by the user. This filtering capability makes it ideal for capturing network packets in a networking laboratory. Summary information about the packet is given in a header and different packet layers are displayed in different colors to easily identify them. The data packets captured in the laboratories are complete with all the raw data from all layers. The purpose of these exercises is to allow students to see packets and better understand layered communications protocols.

The laboratory should be connected through a hub for these exercises since a switch can eliminate computers from the communications path, not allowing all students to see the communications sequences.

“Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2001, American Society for Engineering Education”

Lin, W. T., & Pfile, R. (2001, June), Using Network Analysis Software To Teach The Internet Protocol Stack In The Laboratory Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2001 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015