Have you ever wondered how networks started? We’re surrounded by networks, whether they’re computer networks, networks of roads, or the network of telephones that allow us to communicate every day. In our first lesson, you’ll learn how networks have evolved over the last hundred years. You’ll also find out why every additional device that connects to a network greatly increases the value of the network. By the time you’ve completed this lesson, you’ll have a framework of knowledge that will take you through the rest of the course.
In this lesson, you’ll jump right into networks and networking, and learn how they work. We’ll use examples from our everyday experience. You’ll learn how to tell the difference between a network and networking, and realize that computer networks are a lot like freeway networks. You’ll never look at an interstate the same way again! You’ll also find out why shipping your data from one computer to the next is a lot like sending your distant uncle a new cookie jar for his birthday. Believe it or not, freeways and shipped gifts have a direct correlation to how networks and networking operate!
Have you ever heard someone refer to a computer as a server? Maybe you’ve heard someone talk about connecting computers in a peer-to-peer environment. Understanding the difference between client/server and peer-to-peer networks really helps you learn about computers and networking. So in this lesson, you’ll learn how to tell the difference between client/server and peer-to-peer networks, and when to use one instead of the other.
Many people have heard of Ethernet, but what does that mean exactly? In this lesson, you’ll learn all about Ethernet and a whole lot more. Here you’ll learn the difference between a star topology and a bus topology, and the advantages of each. Is Ethernet or Token Ring the best modern network technology, and why? In this lesson you’ll get those answers and many more!
In this lesson we’ll explore how routers operate, and you’ll see why routers operate a lot like how a receptionist in a growing company handles telephone calls. We’ll build on information you learned in previous lessons, and then you’ll find out how a single interconnected network (the Internet) can actually span the entire globe. A global network is an amazing feat, accomplished by interconnecting network segments and routing data! When you’ve completed this lesson, you’ll understand how routing helps our data to cross the city, state, or an entire ocean.
When people communicate they speak a language, such as English or French, to exchange information. Computers communicate similarly over a network, but instead of speaking a language they use something called a protocol. Protocols are similar to languages and in this lesson, you’ll learn about the protocols used in networking. You’ll also learn which protocol has emerged as the dominant computer protocol, and why!
In this lesson you’ll learn how the networking protocol TCP/IP operates. TCP/IP is a collection of protocols, and we’ll discuss how TCP/IP divides its tasks. We’ll go over how TCP/IP uses addresses to direct data to its rightful owner – it’s similar to how we use street addresses.
Have you ever wondered how your computer converts a Web address into a website that appears on your screen? In this lesson you’ll learn how the Domain Name System (DNS) translates names into numeric addresses, and how all that allows your favorite website, email, or file to appear on your computer screen. You’ll also learn how the entire computer industry comes to a consensus about how the Internet should work.
We’ll take a look at Wide Area Networks (WANs) and how they compare to Local Area Networks (LANs), and we’ll discuss different types of modern WANs. You’ll learn all about how data gets sent over long distances and how the Internet changed expensive, long-distance network connections. You’ll also learn how VPNs secure those Internet connections from prying eyes.
If you connect to the Internet, you use remote access. In this lesson, we’ll explore the traditional means of connecting to remote LANs and talk about exactly how DSL and cable Internet access works. Then we’ll discuss other means by which many people connect to the Internet, including wireless and cellular networks.
In this lesson you’ll apply many of the concepts you’ve learned so far in this course. We’ll walk through the process of building a network with many different wired and wireless devices. Each step of the way, you’ll come to understand what’s going on behind the scenes. From there we’ll jump to connecting to the Internet using broadband connections, configuring a home router, and testing what you’ve done.
In our final lesson we’ll tie all the previous lessons together, clarifying how new information about networks and networking can be quickly understood. You’ll learn three categories into which networking knowledge can be placed, and see examples to apply your newfound network categories. By the end of this lesson, your understanding of networking will be solid as a rock, and you’ll be well-prepared for a lifetime of continued learning about networks and networking!