If you’ve ever sent an email, made a phone call with VoIP (Voice over IP) technology, or even surfed the internet, you have done a little computer networking. This process plays an integral role in our everyday lives — especially as our lives, our jobs, and our devices become more connected.
Networking allows our computing devices (computers, smartphones, tablets, etc.) to communicate with one another to share information. It also allows our devices to connect to a vast array of Internet of Things (IoT) items, like smart doorbells, bluetooth speakers, smart refrigerators, etc.). But even though anyone with a wifi-enabled phone can use networking, it’s not quite as easy to set up or manage a network. That task usually belongs to IT professionals with lots of experience and expertise.
How do you learn the art of computer networking? It’s all about learning the right lingo, taking the right courses, and getting the hands-on experience that will teach you how to set up your network.
Learn the Key Terms
Before you can actually set up or manage a network, you need to understand some of the terminology involved in computer networking. You’ll hear these terms a lot in your courses and your career, so it’s best to get familiar with them as soon as possible!
Here are a few of the key terms for computer networking:
- LAN: Short for local area network, a LAN is used to connect devices over a short distance. For example, computers in an office building or school are often connected via a LAN
- WAN: Short for wide area network, a WAN is used to connect devices over very long distances, sometimes across countries. The internet is the best example of a massive WAN that spans the entire world.
- MAN: Short for metropolitan area network, a MAN is used to connect devices within a city. City governments use MAN connections for things like their traffic cameras.
- PAN: Short for personal area network, a PAN connects multiple devices that belong to a single person. For example, if you use wifi or bluetooth to connect your phone, your tablet, and your smart fridge, you are using a PAN.
- IP address: Every device that connects to a network has its own signature called an internet protocol address, or IP address. This signature helps the device communicate where it is on the host network so that other devices can share and send information to the device.
- Node: Any device that receives, sends, stores, or creates data can be called a node. Your phone, your computer, and your printer are all nodes, because they all can receive data from another device.
- Router: Your router is the device that helps “direct traffic” within your network.
Learning the “lingo” for computer networking is a great way to start understanding how it works. However, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. If you want to understand the nuances of networking, you need to take a class on the subject.
You can find classes on computer networking online or at your local university or community college. These courses will teach you about different network types, architecture, and security features you can use to protect your networks. These classes also give you an opportunity to try networking in a safe and structured environment where you can get feedback and tips from your peers and your instructors.
Practice, Practice, and More Practice
Finally, if you want to master networking (either for your career or just for fun), it’s important to get some hands-on experience. Start by downloading apps on your smartphone that help you identify different networks on your device, such as wifi, GPS, and bluetooth. You can even use network scanner apps to identify other potential devices in your PAN, such as your printer or LED lights.
Once you’ve learned how to identify different IP addresses and nodes, you can practice establishing networks by setting up a PAN within your home. This will help you learn how to set up a network, connect nodes to it, and troubleshoot it if any problems arise. We live in a world that’s increasingly connected thanks to the IoT, which means you have plenty of opportunities to test out your new networking skills!
And of course, if you want to learn more about networking from some of the top tech specialists in the industry, you can always check out a class from Legends of Tech. We offer lessons from experts in the tech field, so you can learn from the best on subjects like networking, data science, cyber security, and a whole lot more.
Whether you’re looking to start a career in tech, trying to land that promotion in the IT department, or simply trying to learn something new for home use, our courses can help you learn valuable skills you can use right away.
Interested in learning about data science? Click here to check out our previous blog post.