Discovering computer networks: hands on in the Open Networking Lab
Discovering computer networks: hands on in the Open Networking Lab

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Discovering computer networks: hands on in the Open Networking Lab

Session 3: An introduction to switching

In the last session you looked at the IP addresses used by devices on a small home network. You have also briefly met MAC addresses – introduced in Session 1. In this and the next session you will look at how these two types of address are used and why both are necessary. You will do this by exploring two very important networking terms: switching and routing. Both of these terms are about getting data across networks from source to destination. You will look at the similarities and differences between them to understand why both are necessary.

By the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • understand what is meant by a port

  • understand why data is segmented into data units for delivery over a network

  • understand that switches are used to deliver data on a local area network and that they use MAC addresses to do this.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371