How do computers communicate? And how are they protected against attacks from the Internet? Nowadays it is not only IT professionals who are interested in questions like these. With the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) "iLabX – The Internet Masterclass", participants with or without special background knowledge can acquire a basic knowledge of the Internet through videos, easy-to-read texts, and interactive quizzes.
Experiments in the virtual Internet lab
"What makes iLabX special is that we not only teach the theory of Internet technology. In the 'vLab' virtual laboratory, participants can also try out what they have just learned: They build the Internet step by step on their own computers while learning about the functionality of the programs that drive the global Internet," says Marc-Oliver Pahl, who developed the MOOC with his team at the TUM Chair of Network Architectures and Services.
From simple cable connections to the complex architecture of the Internet
The course has six parts, each of which takes four to six hours to explore. In the modules, Pahl and his team explain some of the basics of the Internet – for example, how two directly connected computers communicate, and how communication works between computers over much greater distances. Participants learn how data packages find their way through the worldwide Internet with all of its branches and nodes. The MOOC also looks at the "telephone book" of the Internet: the Domain Name System. The course provides insights into the function of web servers, which many people access daily via their browsers. In addition, learners who complete the iLabX course will know how their own computers are protected by firewalls against attacks from the Internet.
A course for all skill levels
Those with prior knowledge of the course topics are also welcome to sign up for iLabX. They will simply work through the material at a faster pace than those seeing it for the first time. The new MOOC course will benefit current and prospective students, too: It will help them to prepare for lectures on networks and distributed systems. Learners who are verified on the MOOC platform and successfully complete the course, will receive a certificate.
The iLabX course is part of TUM's continuing education program. TUM is a pioneer in this field and releases its own MOOCs on respected learning platforms. The steadily expanding range of courses is opening up high-quality educational opportunities to an international audience while enriching the teaching programs at TUM through the integration of MOOC modules into regular degree courses. With its MOOCs, TUM also supports people in the career world in acquiring important qualifications and skills for the job market. More than 407,000 learners from over 170 countries have signed up for MOOCs offered by TUM.