This Web page is actually the first chapter of the Internetworking Handbook offered online by Cisco, a premier provider of computer network hardware and software, and is a part of the www.cisco.com Website. The subject matter is, as the name implies, an overview of internetworking basics, beginning with a definition of Internetworking (a collection of individual computer networks connected by intermediate networking devices), and continuing on with topics such as a brief history of internetworking, a discussion the Open System Interconnection (OSI) Reference Model, information formats, different types of network services, internetwork addressing, flow control, error checking, multiplexing, and standards organizations. It finishes with a summary, a few review questions and answers, and directions to the main Cisco Web site for more information.
Learning goals are stated at the very beginning of the chapter (after the table of contents). The format is a single Web page with a table of contents in the beginning that is actually a series of links to the various parts of the page. There are no links to outside Web pages. There are a number of graphics (19 figures in all) which help to illustrate the material being presented.
Internetworking basics is one of seven Cisco chapters covering the foundation of networking technology. Topic include: introduction to internetworks, OSI Model, connection/less network services, addressing, error checking, multiplex and standards organizations. Review questions are included.
Type of Material:
This is a tutorial that includes a text-based presentation of the material with graphical figures interspersed throughout to illustrate the learning material. There are only five review questions with answers at the end of the tutorial. It is not an interactive question and answer section as the answers are presented with the questions. The only user interaction available is the links in the table of contents at the beginning to the various sections of the page. There are no links available that return the user to the top of the page and the original set of links.
This material can be used in an introductory computer networking course as a supplement to other course textbooks that would explore the topics presented here in greater depth. The instructor could use this material as the basis for a lecture, with related assignments given from text books and other Web sites.
This module can be used for self study or printed out for use as notes. It might also be used for just-in-time information.
Computer with browser and connection to the internet. Optionally, a printer and pdf reader.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
There is a list of learning goals, referred to as “Chapter Goals” at the beginning of the Web page that include the following:
•Learn what makes up an internetwork.
•Learn the basics of the OSI model.
•Learn the differences between connection-oriented and connectionless services.
•Learn about the different types of addresses used in an internetwork.
•Learn about flow control and error-checking basics.
Through the reading and studying of this material, the learner will develop a better understanding of the chapter goals stated above, as well as a basic understanding of how data moves within and across networks. This knowledge is the basis for further study of network design, implementation, and troubleshooting.
According to the website, the student will be able to identify the components of an internetwork, discuss the basics of the OSI Model, relate the difference between connection and connectionless network service, discuss the addressing structure and describe control and error checking basics.
Target Student Population:
College level and above; possibly advanced high school level. Can be useful in a course designed specifically for computer networking, or possibly as a refresher for networking students, entry-level information technology workers, or those studying for various information technology industry certification exams.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
A rudimentary knowledge of computer hardware, software, and usage, as well as a basic knowledge of computer networking terms should be prerequisites for reading and studying this material.
A high level understanding of LANs and WANs.
All links to various parts of the Web page work. Content is accurate, current, and clearly presented. Information can be downloaded as a PDF file to user’s computer. Figures and graphics are well-placed and help to illustrate the concepts presented. Latest copyright is 2010 indicating that the information is up-to-date. Content is presented as part of the Cisco Web site, and Cisco is a recognized leader in the area of computer networking and internetworking. There is a reference at the end to the main Cisco Web site for further information with regard to the concepts presented.
The information is well presented, compressed down to necessary information. Simple illustrations throughout the content support the visual learner. Tips are highlighted.
There are no links to outside sources which could be of further help to learners in understanding the concepts presented.
Review questions favor the OSI model.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The material facilitates learning as concepts are presented in logical order, and explained well. Upon reading and studying the material, in conjunction with a good textbook on the subject matter, students should be able to achieve the stated learning goals. It is a very good summary of concepts that should be studied in greater detail to achieve mastery of the concepts. The graphics and figures presented are numerous and help to illustrate the material being presented.
Learning goals are identified. Limited prerequisite knowledge is required. The content is efficiently laid out with headers providing organization. There is a linked topic menu. Students could self learn from this module, to a point.
The material does not mention any prerequisite knowledge needed; although it becomes clear that a prior basic familiarity with networking terminology is necessary in order to understand the subject matter presented. The material does not appeal to all learning styles as it offers only text and graphics, but virtually no interaction on the part of the learner. After presenting a large amount of complex material, the learning tool has a question and answer section with only five questions and answers; a very small amount for the amount of subject matter addressed.
Other than the review questions, there are no exercises presented or suggested to support the learning. Some animations could better illustrate some concepts. They whys of the technology development are not given and history is limited. This is information striped down to must-know.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
While there is no written explanation that the table of contents at the top of the Web page contains links to the appropriate sections of the page, the links themselves are in blue and underlined, a common indicator that they are links. On the left side of the page are links to other sections of the online Internetworking Technology Handbook, of which this learning tool is just one part. This enables users to easily access more advanced sections of this handbook. The page is designed simply and clearly for ease and simplicity of use.
The design of the module supports online reading. The pdf form of this document supports printing. The simplicity of the illustrations load quickly and the use of white space is visually appealing. At the top and bottom of the module is clear navigation and links to a glossary, search and help options.
While all links work and the user can easily click on a link at the top of the Web page and be taken immediately to the correct section of the page, there are no links in each section that return the user to the top of the page. So, to link to another section from the links at the top of the page, the user must scroll all the way to the top of the page manually. There are no help instructions and it is therefore assumed that users know how to navigate the page. While the navigation is intuitive, it could be an issue to a novice user.
Other Issues and Comments:
This is a very good site that can be used as a supplement to a college or possibly and advanced high school networking course. It is a good summary of the OSI networking layers and how data moves across and between networks. I plan to use this site in my own networking courses.
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