Data network communications is traditionally a course offered by computer engineering technology curricula, with the main objective to introduce students to the fundamental concepts in data communication and computer networks, as well as some level of hands-on component related to this area. Typical topics in such courses are the layered model of data communication, Internet routing, communication standards, protocols and technologies, and learning methods used to design the network and send data over the network in a secure manner. In the last decades, the data communication and applications have grown and become ubiquitous in both industry and people’s everyday life, alongside with increasing data rates and emerging broadband technologies, i.e., Internet access technologies. Consequently, courses related to computer networks become imperative for students in engineering technology programs, as they are essential in preparing the students for the level of technology required on the current job market. However, it is not an easy task to keep up in classrooms with today’s industry requirements for graduates in terms of both content and hands-on activities. Firstly, the course content should be updated with emerging technologies, which is crucial for student’s awareness of new trends and to prepare them for the industry, especially telecommunication and Information Technology (IT) sectors. Secondly, the course should cover hands-on activities that are aligned with the theoretical upgrades introduced in the course. Such activities should include the use of network analyzer tools for network analysis and communications protocol development, as well as a network simulator to provide students with a technology development environment for network design, troubleshooting, and protocol modeling in a simulated environment. Following these considerations, this paper presents the way the Data Network Communications course was updated as part of an overall curriculum revision in an Electrical Engineering Technology program. The paper discusses the course topics, the course objectives, and the software tools introduced to support the hands-on activities in the class, including Wireshark software tool, for network troubleshooting, profiling network traffic and analyzing packets. The paper also presents the way the course was received by the students, as well as the lessons learned after the first semester of offering it in the new format and the modifications planned for future semesters.
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