WA10EL64 - Virtual Network Training Simulator

virt_network_Train_sim_3.jpg

Executive Summary

This project developed an interactive, online, innovative model of a simulated computer networking environment for practical training and assessment of learners to a Certificate III level via e-learning technologies for both recognition of prior learning (RPL) and guided studies, suited to distance learning and face-to-face training delivery.
virt_network_Train_sim_1.jpg

BackgroundNetsimLaptop.jpg

Integracom is a commercial registered training organisation (RTO) and delivers industry training directly to learners who are (most often) already members of the electrotechnology industry, working for a range of employers. Integracom is an enterprise member of various industry bodies (TITAB, BICSI, ASIAL – all cabling registrars in Australia). Integracom is a contributing member of IBSA (Innovation and Business Skills Australia) through the WA Working Group, facilitated through FutureNow.

Integracom specialises in telecommunications, technical security and digital reception technologies training.


What is being done

Integracom developed an interactive, online, innovative model of a simulated computer networking environment for practical training and assessment of learners to a Certificate III level via e-learning technologies for both RPL and guided studies, suited to distance learning and face-to-face training delivery.
IMG_2884.JPG

See below for a screen capture of the 2nd prototype

NetsimDemo1.jpg


The Problem: When a learner accesses a learning management system (LMS) for online e-learning, they do so through a web browser, connected to the internet. A learner’s access to the internet is a function of many variables. Unfortunately for that user, those variables are the very same as the learner is learning about in this course. If the learner were to complete the practicals, including modifying network settings, they would most likely lose their connectivity to the internet. An inexperienced learner may then have great difficulty in restoring their internet connection, to resume training via the LMS.
NetsimServer.jpg

virt_network_Train_sim_4.jpg


The Solution: By creating a simulated network ‘playpen’ or ‘sandbox’ the learner can be free to experiment and make changes, without fear of losing internet connectivity, therefore maintaining a connection to the LMS for training support. Exercises can be built with varying levels of complexity to teach, and challenge, the learner.



Skills Shortage area
– ‘General Communications Tradesperson (ANZSCO - Telecommunications Technician)’ and ‘Communications Linesperson (ANZSCO - Telecommunications Linesworker)’ are 2 positions that have been identified as an area of state-wide skills shortage in Western Australia (Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations – DEEWR - Vacancy Report, Feb 2010)

There has also been identified a national difficulty in filling positions as ‘Cabler (Data and Telecommunications)’. Demand for these workers is expected to increase with major projects being undertaken in Western Australia in 2010. Training supporting the Cert III in Telecommunications will assist with providing more skilled applicants to these positions.


virt_network_Train_sim_1.jpg

Project Outputs

Below is the current prototype for the virtual network simulator. Functionality is at about 70%, with interface design (including appearance) around 90%. Enter your details in the box at the start (or leave blank for now) and click 'OK'. Click and drag items from the left onto the page area. Connect them using the icons that appear over each placed device when you hover the mouse over it. Click the play button at the top right to see it work!

The finished product will include instructions and a help file, so don't worry if you're not sure what to do with it for now!






Reflections and SuggestionsNetsimWorkstation.jpg

Some of this year's project was, for the first time, not able to be completed within Integracom as programming skills were required that were outside of its experience. This necessitated clear, concise communication between project staff and project programmers, and this was achieved through the use of detailed design specifications. The entire project was broken down into a series of English phrases used to describe everything from desired functionality to the look, design and feel of the virtual network interface. What has been achieved has been done so because of the communication and shared understanding between design and programming staff on this project.



Framework connection

The national training system’s e-learning strategy, the Australian Flexible Learning Framework funds and supports E-learning Innovations projects which aim to embed e-learning into the national training system by supporting and enabling innovation in training design and delivery, at the state and territory level.

Integracom will make all outputs from our 2010 project available to any RTO via LORN. Whilst the Network Simulator will not be customisable once downloaded, it will contain many features that it will be useful to any RTO teaching about networking at an introductory level, is a safe environment where students may learn without fear of errors, mistakes or disruptions to their own networks.



AcknowledgementNetsimADSL.jpg

This is a Western Australian E-learning Innovations project output, developed by Integracom Training Solutions, with seed funding from the Framework.


Integracom_Web-Learning_Banner1.jpg

For more information

BKnox.jpg

Brad Knox
Manager, Technical Support
Integracom Management Group
Phone: (08) 9355 5770
Email: brad@integracom.com.au
Website:www.integracomtraining.com.au

For more information on the Australian Flexible Learning Framework:
Phone: (07) 3307 4700
Email:
enquiries@flexiblelearning.net.au
Website:

flexiblelearning.net.au