Computer Science

Flipping Computer Networks

Apr. 03, 2013

by Cory Dalton

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This semester in Computer Networks (CIS 345) we are flipping the class. In practical terms this means we listen to lectures that have been recorded before coming to class and use class time for discussion and hands on activity. While this may put more responsibility on us as the students, we get a lot more out of it. Also since all the lectures are posted on iTunesU, the class can reach anyone, some who will never even see our classroom.

It's really nice to have a recorded lecture you can rewind if you need to hear something again. You don't have to stop class and ask or remain clueless; just click a button and listen again. Is a nice convenience to have the lectures when we need them. It's also nice that we have so much more class time to go in-depth for answering questions or pursuing interests. We spend our class time getting a better understanding of things that are confusing. More questions can be answered and with more detail. We get a more comprehensive understanding as well, since we have time to venture past general knowledge and basics.

A typical class day is spent going over the specifics such as Dijkstra's algorithm or answering questions on NAT. This also leaves us with some class time to do hands-on programming and packet sniffing labs. For example, we have written TCP and UDP programs in Python to send and receive messages between computers and used Wireshark to perform packet sniffing labs. While class is very rewarding, it’s only possible because we take on the responsibility of watching lectures in our free time. Sometimes with a busy schedule this can be very difficult, and honestly sometimes it’s just not fun.  Even though the class is more demanding outside the classroom, the flip has been an overall very positive experience for me since I've gained a deeper knowledge of the subject, and we can spend more time on more interesting areas.