I'm teaching assistant in a Networking 101 course. From my past experience with such courses, I found that some students gets lost when we have to run some algorithms manually with pen and paper, and doing examples in projected presentations is very time consuming task and is lacking any interactivity. Therefore, students finds such courses as uninteresting and boring.

I was trying to find some software that will allow me to put nodes and connect them in lines, than run a protocol of my choice and have visualization of algorithms such as spanning trees ready in seconds, so we could watch how each nodes operate. While trying to find such software I was only able to find simulators that allows connecting virtual machines into a virtual network and than watching the traffic through WireShark.

Do you know a way to visualize the core network algorithms in a way that will be pleasant to students?


One way to do it would be to run some devices with whatever protocol you want to study and use Wireshark (with appropriate filtering) to see what actually happens. It's a great way to learn.

Wireshark could appear difficult at first glance, but it's indeed quite easy to use and to read the packets since it decode many things for you.

Another way that would be great for you I think is Cisco Packet Tracer. It has the advantage of not requiring any hardware and it has built-in the wireshark-like function of examining packets. However it has never been clear to me if you can use it freely outside of Cisco official training.

Also, Cisco Virtual Internet Routing Lab, is more advanced than Packet Tracer, and you may be eligible to the Academic Edition. But you need a lot of memory (RAM) to run it. (Thanks to Eddie for the info about VIRL)

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I think you are looking for something as https://www.gns3.com

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  • I was looking into gns3. It allowed me to configure the virtual network, but I don't see how each machine can tell the student how it see the network topology. Am I missing something? – Tomer Cohen Feb 20 '16 at 17:08

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