Before getting into the swing of his PhD research, Andrew Smith has been working with Cisco Systems over the last three years on the pedagogical (and semi-technical) development of their Packet Tracer network simulator, which is used as a key teaching tool on T216: Cisco Networking.
One of the key outcomes of this work, which has been driving Andrew’s current PhD research, has been the development of a simulated internet. Packet Tracer, unlike any other simulated networking resource allows groups to work together, either in class or remotely on a diverse range of simulated networking activities.
In exploring the question of how a simulated internet could be developed, Andrew has been working with Dennis Frezzo (known affectionately by the Cisco community as the Godfather of Packet Tracer). An aim of this work is to present the educational world with a powerful simulated environment, with many of the experiences of the real system, without any of the risks or issues.
The intention is to develop a mesh of ‘relay-servers’ hosting the Packet Tracer application, each interlinked and supporting a virtual internet where Open University students, amongst many others, will be able to engage in a range of learning experiences.
With work already underway, and papers presented at two previous conferences, Andrew has worked with remote and in-class groups to build small ‘Internets’ and explore the pedagogy. The work has been accepted as a paper at ALT-C in Leeds this September, where Andrew will present a full research paper.