These resources have been reviewed and selected by STEM Learning’s team of education specialists for factual accuracy and relevance to teaching STEM subjects in UK schools.

Wired and Wireless Networks

The first video explores the two main types of networks: local area networks (LAN) and wide area networks (WAN).  The reasons for networking stand-alone computers are outlined, and the potential disadvantages too.  The connection options for devices on a network are briefly mentioned and covered in more detail in other videos in this topic.

The second video explains the factors that affect the performance of networks.  This includes: bandwidth, the number of users, the transmission media, the error rate and latency.

The two ways of configuring services on a network are outlined in the third video.  Client server, where devices are reliant on services provided and managed by a central server; and peer-to-peer where there is no server and each device provides services and files to other devices on the network.  You can think of this as ‘dedicated servers’ vs ‘local hosts’.

The fourth video takes a deeper look at the hardware required for connecting a network.  This includes network interface controllers (NIC), wireless access points (WAP), routers and switches.  The differences between switches and routers are explained at a level suitable for GCSE.  The different transmission media such as twisted pair (UTP/CAT) and fibre optic are also outlined.

The fifth video defines “the internet”, and explains how the internet works at a simplistic level with URLs (web addresses) and IP addresses.  This includes outlining the purpose of a domain name server (DNS) and the need for routers.  The concept of “hosting” is introduced and the term, “the cloud”, together with the advantages of storing files in the cloud.

Not to be confused with virtual memory (1.2) or virtual storage (“the cloud” 1.4), a virtual network is the concept of using a software layer to apply security restrictions over a physical network.  In doing so it provides a layer of “abstraction” (see 2.1) that changes the logical view of a network without impacting on the physical reality of the infrastructure.  The sixth video explains the concept of virtual networks or VPNs at a level suitable for GCSE.


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