This assignment serves as an active learning opportunity for the Internet and data communications topics of a general freshman computing course. Students must evaluate their Internet service to determine if the speeds of subscribed service are being delivered and then communicate their findings using networking terminology. The assignment also provides students with an opportunity to learn and/or practice the basics of spreadsheet applications.
Background and Context
The assignment serves as an active learning opportunity for the Internet and data communications topics of a general freshman computing course. Subtopics include Internet connection options, Internet Service Providers, data communication channels, speeds at which data travels, wired and wireless communication, Internet traffic and factors affecting data communications.
The main purpose of the assignment is for the students to evaluate their Internet service to determine if the data speeds of the subscribed service are being delivered and to communicate the results using the fundamental networking terminology. This assignment also provides students with an opportunity to learn and/or practice the basics of spreadsheet applications.
The assignment is given in Computer Technologies, a first year general education computer course, taken by all majors.
The assignment enhances student learning of data communications because it actively engages the learner in a topic relevant to student’s needs and interest (spending time on the Internet). Assignment ‘watch me’ videos support student learning outside of the classroom.
Students had difficulty creating meaningful graphs from the data they collect and difficulty interpreting the graphs they make. But since additional guidance has been added to the assignment in terms of graph creation and using quantitative terms to interpret the graph and revisions are allowed on this project after feedback has been given, the results are good and the data communications and networking concepts that apply to this assignment are better understood than if the topic was covered by lecture alone.
This assignment has evolved from a simple discussion after trying the speed test in the classroom to a speed test of their own home network over the course of several days that is documented and analyzed. Most recently, the discussion to compare results with other class members was added so that students could discuss other types of broadband connections and factors that may contribute to the results of other speed tests. The discussion should enable students to use the terminology of the topic and solidify the concepts.
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