Grade 15 - Information Technology Cluster

Introduction to Network Systems (Credit: 0.50)

How can we automate the transfer of information from one computer to another? To answer that question, this course introduces students to the fundamental technology and concepts that make networking systems possible. The question itself is a very practical one and the concepts taught are more concerned with practices and processes rather than theoretical generalities.

The most important concept introduced is that of the OSI reference model and its bottom four layers, which are most directly concerned with networking instead of computing. Each networking layer is explored in a three-lesson chapter. By the end of the course, every student should be comfortable reading a sentence that says something like, "X is a protocol working at the third layer."

The course also explores a good deal of technology, specifically the software and hardware supporting LANs, WANs, and Wi-Fi networks. Particularly important are the protocols in the TCP/IP stack that are used to communicate across a network, but the students are also introduced to the hardware, including hubs, switches, bridges, routers, and transmission media. The student is expected to learn that a network is not some mysterious idea out there in cyberspace. It is a mechanism that is fully dependent on its parts working properly.

Once the students understand the fundamentals of the layers and network hardware, they can be introduced to questions of security, network management, and network operating systems. In particular, they should understand the role of the server. They have already encountered many examples of client-server relationships, and the material later in the course should introduce them to the many roles that a server can play as a part of a network.