The Impact of Hands-On Simulation Laboratories on Teaching of Wireless Communications

Te-Shun Chou, Aaron Vanderbye
Journal of Information Technology Education: Innovations in Practice  •  Volume 16  •  2017  •  pp. 069-090
Aim/Purpose: To prepare students with both theoretical knowledge and practical skills in the field of wireless communications.

Background: Teaching wireless communications and networking is not an easy task because it involves broad subjects and abstract content.

Methodology: A pedagogical method that combined lectures, labs, assignments, exams, and readings was applied in a course of wireless communications.

Contribution: Five wireless networking labs, related to wireless local networks, wireless security, and wireless sensor networks, were developed for students to complete all of the required hands-on lab activities.

Findings: Both development and implementation of the labs achieved a successful outcome and provided students with a very effective learning experience. Students expressed that they had a better understanding of different wireless network technologies after finishing the labs.

Recommendations for Practitioners: Detailed instructional lab manuals should be developed so that students can carry out hands-on activities in a step-by-step fashion.

Recommendation for Researchers: Hands-on lab exercises can not only help students understand the abstract technical terms in a meaningful way, but also provide them with hands-on learning experience in terms of wireless network configuration, implementation, and evaluation.

Impact on Society: With the help of a wireless network simulator, students have successfully enhanced their practical skills and it would benefit them should they decide to pursue a career in wireless network design or implementation.

Future Research: Continuous revision of the labs will be made according to the feedback from students. Based on the experience, more wireless networking labs and network issues could be studied in the future.
wireless communications, wireless simulation, wireless network, wireless security, course design
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