Introduction and guidance
This free badged course, Discovering computer networks: hands on in the Open Networking Lab, lasts 24 hours, with 16 sessions, two sessions to a week. You can work through the course at your own pace, so if you have more time one week there is no problem with pushing on to complete a further study session. The eight weeks are linked to ensure a logical flow through the course. They are:
- Week 1 – Getting started: home networks and IP addresses
- Week 2 – Moving data: an introduction to switching and routing
- Week 3 – Setting things up: configuration
- Week 4 – Traffic control: destination addresses, route tracing and collision avoidance
- Week 5 – Making it happen: connecting devices and command-line control
- Week 6 – Understanding the network: underlying principles
- Week 7 – How it works: more of the principles that underlie networks
- Week 8 – Final practical considerations: security and complex networks.
Most of your learning will be using videos and ‘screencasts’, which demonstrate practical skills using simulated computer networks. You will also have plenty of opportunities to try out the techniques for yourself. The course provides easy-to-use network simulation software integrated with practical online learning activities.
You can confirm your learning through interactive quizzes. The quizzes in Weeks 4 and 8 will provide you with an opportunity to earn a badge to demonstrate your new skills. You can read more on how to study the course and about badges in the next sections.
Once you have completed the course you will be able to set up, configure and troubleshoot simulated computer networks. You will understand the differences between the small-scale networks typically used in homes and the larger-scale networks used in commercial organisations. You will know how these different networks are managed, and you will have experience of practical activities using simulated versions of each.
Moving around the course
In the ‘Summary’ at the end of each week, you will find a link to the next week. If at any time you want to return to the start of the course, click on ‘Full course description’. From here you can navigate to any part of the course.
It’s also good practice, if you access a link from within a course page (including links to the quizzes), to open it in a new window or tab. That way you can easily return to where you’ve come from without having to use the back button on your browser.
The Open University would really appreciate a few minutes of your time to tell us about yourself and your expectations for the course before you begin, in our optional. Participation will be completely confidential and we will not pass on your details to others