Teach Computing

Revision notes, activities, lesson plans, teaching ideas, and other resources for GCSE, A-Level, and IB Computer Science teachers and students.

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Resources discount offer

5.1 Networks

Lesson resources

Networks Banned Words game
Networks revision game
Recommended GCSE Computer Science textbooks
Edexcel Computer Science textbooks
Communications & the Internet keyword bingo game
Communications & the Internet keyword bingo game

5.1.1 Why use networks?


Edexcel GCSE Computer Science: Networks

This video covers Topic 5.1 Networks from the Edexcel syllabus. This topic is very theory heavy, which makes this video a long but useful revision resource for GCSE students.

Updated: 2016-10-17

5.1.2 Network types: LAN, WAN, PAN, and VPN


Types of network: PAN, WAN, LAN, and WLAN

Very clear diagrams and explanations of PAN, LAN, WLAN, and WAN. The diagrams are clear and include the location of key hardware such as switches, clients, and servers.The following pages also have good coverage of the other Computer Science networking topics, including network topologies.

Updated: 2016-03-27


BBC Bitesize has a good overview of the differences between LANs and WANs, including some very clear diagrams. It does not cover Personal Area Networks (PAN) though. The very similar GCSE Computer Science page includes both a video and an explanation of WPAN and PAN.

Updated: 2016-04-05
Computer networks

Computer network types

Computer Network Types is a short but clear explanation of the main types of networks in Computer Science. It covers PAN, LAN, MAN, and WAN with very clear diagrams and explanations.

Updated: 2016-04-05

5.1.3 Wired and Wireless connectivity

Connecting to the internet diagram

Connecting to the Internet

The BBC's Connecting to the Internet does a good job of explaining the requirements for connecting to the Internet as well as the major media types (including, copper cable, fibre optic, ADSL, and 3/4G). The pages are very detailed and give advantages and disadvantages for each connection type.

Updated: 2016-03-27
Cable types

Network cable types

About Tech has one of the better explanations of network cable types, covering the essentials including coaxial, twisted pair, and fibre optic. The hyperlink-studded text makes it easy to students to find out about any related terms or concepts which confuse them.

Updated: 2016-04-05

5.1.4 Network speeds

Global Internet speed interactive

Global Internet speed

This excellent page from Akamai features interactive charts to help students visualise Internet trends. Students can view a global map of Internet speeds (which holds a few surprises) and customize the graphs to show data and changes from which countries and time periods they want. A great way of examining potential digital divides.

Updated: 2016-04-05

5.1.5 Network Protocols

Internet protocols

Internet Protocols

The most common Internet protocols - TCP/IP, FTP, POP3, STMP, VOIP, and HTTP are given the BBC treatment in this page. Although largely text based, the resource clearly explains each term and uses examples to highlight how these protocols are used in everyday life, even if we don't notice them.

Updated: 2016-03-27
Packet attack network game

Packet attack game

In this simple game students must attempt to corrupt, kill, or delay data packets as they are sent across the screen. This game might now seem very educational at first, but on later levels (5 onwards) the data transmitted has additional features to detect corruption. For example, packets are sent with a sequence number (just like an IP packet), so delaying a packet no longer causes problems. This game can lead to some good classroom discussions about how network protocols prevent the problems shown in the game.

Updated: 2017-10-24

5.1.6 Data packets

Internet switching

Circuit switching and packet switching

The Internet gives an overview of how the Internet works and also clearly explains the difference between circuit switching and packet switching.

Updated: 2016-03-27
Parity trick

Network parity interactive

This is an interactive version of the classic parity magic trick, which can also be performed with playing cards in from of a class (it generates a bit more enthusiasm when done live!). The activity is simple: set the parity bits correctly (the system uses even parity), then as the computer to randomly flip a bit. It should be possible to detect the change by examining the parity.

Updated: 2017-10-24
Life of a network packet

Video: There and Back Again: A Packet's Tale. How Does the Internet Work?

A really accessible overview of packet switching, using the example of accessing a web page. The steps are broken down and explained with real life examples, as a web page hosted in the US is fetched by a computer in the UK.

Updated: 2018-01-25

5.1.7 Network Topologies

Network topologies diagram

Network Topologies

BBC Bitesize has clear revision materials for the three main network topologies: star network, bus network, and ring network. As always, their diagrams are very clear and easy to understand, and each topology has a clear table of its advantages and disadvantages.

Updated: 2016-03-27
Network topologies diagram

Network topologies

Network topologies gives a brief over of Star networks, Ring networks, and Bus networks. The diagrams are clear but students will probably need additional resources when studying the advantages and drawbacks of each topology.

Updated: 2016-03-27
Network simulator

Interactive network simulator

This interactive tool allows students set up a LAN by adding clients, servers, switches, and peripheral devices to create the network. Students can follow the tutorial mode or use the open mode where they are free to create their own network layout.

Updated: 2016-04-05
Network topologies

Network topology videos

These four excellent videos from Computer Science tutor cover the four main types of network topology. Each video does a great job of showing the physical topology and discussing the advantages and disadvantages of each. The videos are relatively short - around 2 minutes - making them great revision / review tools.

Updated: 2018-12-08

5.1.8 Mobile technologies