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Using Network Analyzers For Enhancement Of Computer Networks Teaching

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Network Administration and Security

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1398.1 - 11.1398.9



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Paper Authors


Xuefu Zhou University of Cincinnati

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Xuefu Zhou is an Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology in the College of Applied Science at University of Cincinnati. He received the M.S. in Electrical Engineering from University of Cincinnati in 2002. He is a Ph.D. candidate in Electrical Engineering, College of Engineering at University of Cincinnati. His teaching and research interests are in communications, distributed computer systems and computer networks.

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

Using Ethereal and IT GURU for Enhancement of Computer Networks Teaching


This paper describes a course and laboratory in computer networking for students in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology (ECET) program at The University of Cincinnati. Teaching a computer networking course for engineering technology students can be a challenge because of the breadth of topics spanning electrical engineering, computer science and computer engineering which encompasses abstract concepts such as encapsulation and layered models.

In our computer networking class, we set up a weekly lab which accounts for almost the same amount of time as the lecture. The outcome of this curriculum is designed to have students benefit from a better understanding of fundamental concepts in addition to gaining hands-on experience. However, we have struggled on how to set up the lab and what type of resources to include.

In the past, our department has purchased networking equipment such as routers and switches to establish the networking lab. We have faced the problems such as the cost to equip and maintain the lab while at the same time only limited topics can be explored through the lab equipment. In order to find a new pedagogical approach to provide students with hands-on experience to help students understand the concepts well, I have done some research and found that both Professor Kurose, Ross [2] and Matthews [1] have proposed the idea of using a software called Ethereal, which is a network packet sniffer, to observe the sequence of messages exchanged between two protocol entities so that students may see network protocol in action. Ethereal labs can help students understand different networking protocols well, although it cannot provide students experiments on how to implement, manage and conduct performance analysis for networks under different scenarios.

For the reasons stated above, I have adopted the Ethereal and network simulation software, OPNET IT GURU to develop my lab exercises for the computer networking class which gives an extensive introduction to computer networking concepts and focuses on concepts, principles and protocols and covers all aspects of networking. Students attending both the lecture and lab classes will obtain a better understanding of the fundamentals of data transmission, packet transmission and internetworking protocols and gain the skills to design and analyze computer networks by using these Softwares we introduced in the lab class. This paper will describe the lab exercises together with the feedback from students. The main goals of the lab are to: • To develop a clear understanding of the network layer concept • To explore the packet encapsulation and fragmentation issues • To explore the packet, datagram and frame format characteristics • To visualize different protocols in action • To explore reliable transmission mechanisms

Zhou, X. (2006, June), Using Network Analyzers For Enhancement Of Computer Networks Teaching Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1147

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