Enhance student s learning with an aid of simulation software to understand Computer Networking Undergraduate courses.

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1 Enhance student s learning with an aid of simulation software to understand Computer Networking Undergraduate courses. Veeramani Shanmugam Lenin Gopal Zeya Oo Prasanna Mohan Viswanathan Abstract: This paper discusses the two key important Computer Networks core concepts theories, design and implementation. While teaching the theory concepts it is harder for the students to visualize the networking principles, algorithms, protocols used in the data communication and the inter connection between hardware devices PC s, Servers, switches, hubs, routers and firewalls. In the last three years of teaching network units observed the disconnection between the theory and practical. With aid of software simulation tool Packet tracer we can bring the real networking environment in to the class room to make more interactive and effective class room teaching. Packet Tracer includes logical workspace, such as creating Network topology, configuring devices such as router, switches, workstation and servers, real time simulation mode, physical

2 workspace etc. In this qualitative study, activity theory is used as a lens to study the introduction of Packet Tracer into networking classrooms. Last two semesters the above issue was approached using Packet tracer. It has been well accepted by students and proven method.in this paper the author reports the detail of design and implementation methods, how to simulate the gap between theoretical lectures and laboratory experience and improvement in student s learning outcome. Keywords: Networks, protocols, Pc s, routers, switches, packet tracer, Network topology. Introduction Teaching is an art, teaching in the class room using the traditional method using black board and class room teaching is still being used in high schools till 80 s, due the wide spread usage of personal computers and software program make teacher job more easy and effective means to transfer the knowledge to students. In general the ICT technology change the teaching style and the learners shown interest towards learning.it make the even the complex subject and dry units more interesting using software to deliver the conceptual idea using package like power point, MS word, Excel, Adobe packages. Background Data Communications and Computer Networks is a course offered to the Bachelor of Technology and Computer Networking and Computer Engineering programs. The course covers wide range of Networking principles, data communication systems, terminals, modems, terminal control units, switches, hubs, routers, communication media, front-end processors, common carrier service, data communication system design, computer network models, TCP/IP principles, LAN, WAN ( James F. Kurose-Pearson, 2005). Generally regarded as an abstract course, delivery of teaching this course may pose challenges for lecturers. Preparing visual aids, power point presentations, flash animations, and other interesting activities to aid students in visualizing data communication will be time consuming. Student face great challenge to understand theory how computers are inter connected and communicate each other to transfer data in networking systems, in addition networking students has to learn the different types of protocols and their roles in data communication in details, will be harder to visualize their functions in the lecture class room. During the laboratory through hands-on activities and configuration of routers, switches and setting up pc to simple network topology will be possible, if it involved complex topology and with limited hardware equipment and with many groups of students and due lab time constraints will be not possible to acquire complete knowledge about complex network topology. When students, has less time with practical experience. It leads to achieve fewer score in the final examination.

3 Visual learning Visual Learning entails the use of graphics, images and animations to enable and enhance learning in science and engineering. Visual learning is a proven method in which ideas, concepts, data and other information are associated with images and animations, while the subject is represented graphically. As an example, techniques and tools such as flowchart, UML and animations are used in visual learning to enhance thinking and learning skills. Students can understand subjects much more easily if they can see, or even touch them in real. Visual learning uses methods that help students to open their minds and think graphically. Associations between images and some sort of information can help to better memorize and use the learned knowledge or information (Janitor, Josef et al, 2010). Packet tracer simulation tool Cisco Packet Tracer is a powerful network simulation program that allows students to experiment with network topology design, configure and test the performance of networks. Packet tracer is excellent tool for network simulation provided by CISCO Networking Academy. Comprehensive learning experience, Packet Tracer provides simulation, visualization, assessments, and facilitates the teaching and learning of complex technology concepts. Packet Tracer supplements physical equipment in the classroom allowing lecturers to demonstrate the interconnection between networking theory and relate them with virtual physical equipments and it make the student to understand how networking equipments such as routers, switches, cables and pc s are used in data communication and to verify the connectivity between them and to realize and understand the different protocols TCP/IP, RIP, EIGRP diverse role in the networking environment.it help students to create a network with an almost unlimited number of devices, encouraging practice, discovery, and troubleshooting. The simulation-based learning environment helps students develop skills such as decision making, creative and critical thinking, and problem solving. Packet Tracer helps students and lecturers to create their own virtual network worlds for exploration, experimentation, and explanation of networking concepts and technologies. Cisco Packet Tracer includes the following features (www.cisco.com). Makes teaching easier by providing a free, multiuser environment for lecturers to easily teach complex technical concepts. Makes learning easier by providing a realistic network simulation and visualization environment Provides authoring of learning activities, tasks, labs, and complex assessments. Supports lectures, group and individual labs, homework, assessments, case studies, games, and Competitions. Supplements real equipment and enables extended learning opportunities beyond physical classroom limitations. Empowers students to explore concepts, conduct experiments, and test their understanding Promotes social learning through a network-capable (peer-to-peer) application with opportunities for multiuser competition, remote instructor-student interactions, social networking, and gaming (www.cisco.com).

4 Visual learning enhanced student learning In figure 1, scenario of three routers namely HQ, Remote1 and Remote2. HQ Router is connected to PC1 and PC2 through faster Ethernet port Fa 0/0 and Fa 0/1. HQ router is connected to Remote1 and Remote 2 through serial interface port S0/01 and S0/0/0. Remote1 router is connected to PC3 and PC4, Remote2 router is connected to PC5 and PC6. The design topology had drawn using the tools and necessary configuration for the HQ, Router1 and Router 2 with a combination of EIGRP and a static default route will be required so that host on networks not directly connected can communicate. An efficient addressing scheme to accommodate all hosts on the network and subnet an address space with given requirements all done using the packet tracer. Figure1: Network topology configured with EIGRP protocol.

5 Figure2: Network Topology Patch Cabling on Packet Tracer Conclusion Using packet tracer as a tool in teaching complex and abstract units like Data communication and Networking, Distributed networks can significantly help the students to improve their learning and creativity skills. Skills in problem solving, designing and troubleshooting has greatly improved when students using the CISCO packet tracer, teaching and learning technology become more comprehensive, enjoyable, stimulant when it is used in simulation based class room teaching.

6 References James F. Kurose-Pearson, (2005) Computer networking top-down approach featuring the internet, Addison Wesley, third edition Janitor, Josef et al.(2010), visual learning tools for teaching and learning computer networks, 6 th international conference on Networking and services. The CISCO Website. [Online]. Available: The Cisco Networking Academy Website. [Online]. Available: - United States

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