A vendor neutral wide area networking course

Liles, Samuel “A vendor neutral wide area networking course” American Society for Engineering Education 2005 Illinois-Indiana Sectional Conference (Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois, USA April 1-2, 2005)


Within information technology the course presentation is often implemented as lecture and laboratory. At the senior level of undergraduate studies options exist to allow for a collaborative laboratory learning environment. The course delivery model may still be split between lecture and laboratory class assignments, but the laboratory exercises are delivered as a collaborative phased strategy.

One of the primary requirements of the course is to develop vendor neutral curriculum that could be taught on any set of laboratory equipment meeting basic requirements. The design of the curriculum is not based on a single lab model, but it is based on standard project management concepts. Utilizing a customized project management model, the delivery of courses occurs over five phases. Phase 1 is assessment of student skills and base lining of students’ skills. Phase 2 is a top down network design of a scenario utilizing either case studies or a known infrastructure. Phase 3 is the actual implementation of some large component of the previous phases design. Within phase 3, a large part of the design process is expected to be refined and derived requirements examined. Phase 4 is the testing and analysis of the design as implemented by students. While tracking requirements, students can create test models of the network based on their requirements from previous phases. The final phase is phase 5 and the students will assess their work and present their findings. The environment of collaborative investigation at the student level is extensive. The cross communication requirements between student laboratory groups is further expanded if the overall design is implemented in partial content by each group requiring communication between groups. The phased approach allows for several points to assess student achievement and provide feedback. More importantly the phased approach more closely aligns to the standard industry model of implementations.

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