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Problem-based learning as an effective tool for teaching computer network design

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2 Author(s)
N. Linge ; Sch. of Comput., Univ. of Salford, Manchester, UK ; D. Parsons

This paper addresses the challenge of developing techniques for the effective teaching of computer network design. It reports on the experience of using the technique of problem-based learning as a key pedagogical method for teaching practical network design within the context of a Master's program module in data telecommunications and networks at the University of Salford, Salford, Greater Manchester, U.K. A two-threaded approach was adopted that comprised a problem-based learning thread and a conventional lecture thread. The problem-based learning thread within the module comprised sessions designed to place the students in the position of network design consultants who are introduced to scenarios that have a high degree of realism in which a client has specific business requirements that can be met through the adoption of a network solution. In this way, the problem-based learning thread allows the students to develop their design skills, while the lecture thread uses traditional teaching methods to allow students to develop their understanding of key network components and architectures. A formal evaluation of this approach has been carried out and demonstrated a very effective and realistic learning experience for the students. Therefore, the authors propose that problem-based learning is an ideal pedagogical tool for the teaching of computer network design.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Education  (Volume:49 ,  Issue: 1 )