Computer Communications and Networks

Purpose of Course  showclose

The Internet has become one of the most important components of our life. We browse the Web, check e-mails, make VoIP phone calls, and have video conferences via computers. All of these applications are made possible by networking computers together, and this complex network of computers is usually referred to as the Internet. This course is designed to give you a clear understanding of how networks, from in-home local area networks, or LANS, to the massive and global Internet, are built and how they allow us to use computers to share information and communicate with one another.

Unit 1 introduces you to an explanation of what computer networks are as well as to some basic terminology fundamental to understanding computer networks. You will also familiarize yourself with the concept of layers, which compose the framework around which networks are built. Next, Unit 2 explains the concept of protocols. A computer communication (or network) protocol defines rules and conventions for communication between network devices.

The rest of the course implements a top-down approach to teach you the details about each layer and the relevant protocols used in computer networks. Beginning in Unit 3, you will explore the concept of application layer protocols, which include the Domain Name System, e-mail protocols, and the Hypertext Transfer Protocol. Unit 3 ends with an overview of how to use socket programming to develop network applications. In Unit 4, you will learn transport layer protocols, including the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the User Datagram Protocol (UDP). You will go on to study the network layer Internet Protocol (IP) and packet routing protocols in Unit 5. Next is Unit 6, which is devoted to a discussion on link layer protocols, and the course concludes with an overview on voice and video protocols, network security, and cloud computing in Unit 7.

As you move through the course, take time to notice how the layers build on top of one another and work together to create the amazing tool of computer networks, which many of us depend upon daily.

This course is designed to align with a Thomas Edison State College TECEP examination. Visit the TECEP website, and click on “Network Technology (CMP-354-TE)” to download the content guide for the exam.  For more information about this partnership, and earning credit through Thomas Edison State College, go here.

Thomas Edison State College

Course Information  showclose

Welcome to CS402: Local Area Networks. General information about this course and its requirements can be found below.
Course Designer: Dr. Rose Wise, Network Administrator
Primary Resources: This course is comprised of a range of different free online materials. However, the course makes primary use of the following materials:
  • Université Catholique de Louvaine: Olivier Bonaventure’s Computer Networking: Principles, Protocols, and Practice (PDF, EPUB)
  • Massachussets Institute of Technology OpenCourseWare: Prof. Hari Balakrishnan’s “Computer Networks”
  • Wikipedia
  • Ronald Aitchison’s Pro DNS and BIND
Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned materials, including the exercises and the final exam.
Note that you will only receive an official grade on your final exam. In order to pass this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the final exam. Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.
Time Commitment: Completing this course will take approximately 105.25 hours. Each unit includes a time advisory that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit. These should help you plan your time accordingly. It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories, determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit, and then set goals for yourself. For example, Unit 1 should take you 4 hours. Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to complete Subunit 1.1 (a total of 3 hours) on Monday and Tuesday nights; Subunit 1.2 (a total of 1 hour) on Wednesday night; etc.
Tips/Suggestions: Review the home page and Preface/Chapter 1 of the textbook for this course, Computer Networking: Principles, Protocols, and Practice (CNP3), for information about the learning tools available with the book.
The outline in the left margin enables you to click back to previous sections should you want to review them. If several days pass before you proceed to the next section, you may want to review outlines for the completed sections.
Chapters 2-6 in the CNP3 textbook each contain a summary as well as exercises to further reinforce your learning.
As with all online/interactive documents, each section in your textbook contains hyperlinks to additional information. These links are part of your reading assignment. Thus, information contained in hyperlinks has been factored into learning outcomes and are included in the final exam questions.
One of the goals of the textbook is to tie standards to actual technology. Links to a Request for Comments (RFC) accomplish this purpose. While this course does not require you to memorize all of the RFCs referenced in the readings, you are encouraged to peruse these links for additional background and insight into the standards supporting the evolution of network technologies.
Your textbook has done a good job of covering computer network concepts by introducing and discussing a large number of terms. You may want to create your own list of terms for each section with their definition and acronym (abbreviation) as you study since not all terms are in the textbook’s Glossary.

A version of this course is also available in iTunes U.
Preview the course in your browser or view all our iTunes U courses.  

Learning Outcomes  showclose

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:
  • describe the architecture of a computer network and explain how each device in a network communicates with each other;
  • describe the processes in each layer of the network protocol that enables different networks to share resources;
  • describe the basic network protocols in each layer of a TCP/IP stack and the purpose of each protocol;
  • recognize and differentiate between the various services and functionalities of specific mechanisms in each protocol and their usage in a computer network;
  • explain the role of the Network Request for Comment (RFC);
  • compare and contrast each layer in the TCP/IP model with those in the OSI model;
  • define socket programming and explain its role in application processing;
  • describe IP addressing and explain its purpose;
  • explain packet collisions and how they are corrected in the link layer;
  • define CSMA and describe its use in the link layer;
  • describe and compare application protocols such as VoIP and IPTV; and
  • explain TCP/IP security related issues.

Course Requirements  showclose

In order to take this course, you must:

√    have access to a computer;

√    have continuous broadband Internet access;

√    have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (Adobe Reader, Flash, etc.);

√    have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer;

√    have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.);

√    have competency in the English language;

√    have read the Saylor Student Handbook; and

√    have knowledge of the fundamental computer terminology covered in an introduction to computing course, such as hardware, software, and Internet.

Preliminary Information

  • Open Textbook Challenge Winner: Computer Networking: Principles, Protocol, and Practice

    Computer Networking: Principles, Protocol, and Practice was written and submitted to the Open Textbook Challenge by Dr. Olivier Bonaventure of the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL) in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. Dr. Bonaventure also serves as the Education Director of ACM SIGCOMM. Computer Networking has already been used by several universities around the world, including UCL.
    Olivier Bonaventure’s Computer Networking: Principles, Protocols, and Practice (PDFEPUB)

Unit Outline show close