T. Olivares, J.M. Villalon, M.C. Ruiz

Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha (SPAIN)
Learning an abstract concept, such as network architecture, has always worried teachers involved in the subjects of computer networks. The main problem is to understand both the meaning of the layers of the architecture and the task performed by the protocols involved in them. Moreover, it is well known that the use of games in learning processes encourage students to work.

With the intention of motivating students to achieve a deep understanding of the concept of network architecture, we decided to pose a game-based activity so that the knowledge is acquired in an amusing and enjoyable way. Specifically, the development of a Trivial of Networks was proposed. This activity was carried out with students of the subject “Computer Networks I” at the University of Castilla-La Mancha (which is studied in the first year) and was performed in groups. This paper presents how this activity has been conducted.

The students task was to look for questions in Trivial PursuitR style. The questions should be regarding the first three layers of the network architecture, which make up the content of the course. Students were split up into groups. Each group specializes in one layer and must find three questions about the functionality of its own layer weekly. Teachers should review the questions and draw up a list of Final Questions. Furthermore, to promote the effort in finding good questions, a second list of questions was created where only the Best Questions were included. In order to the knowledge acquired by the groups is not limited to its own layer and every group understands how the rest of the layers work, at the end of the course a contest of Trivial of Networks was organized.

The main goals set for this activity were two: on the one hand, we want students get involved in the activity and on the other hand, students familiarize with the network architecture and become experts in one of the layers by searching questions about it. It can be stated clearly that the two objectives were fully achieved. The degree of student participation exceeds 94% with a dropout rate of only 5.5%. Furthermore, the quality of the questions was improving week by week, increasing both the number of Final Questions accepted and the amount of Best Questions. It is clear evidence that students were learning more and more about their own network layer.

The conclusion reached from this activity is that for a task to be successful it is essential that students are motivated and fully involved in it. We have verified that the use of games helps to increase the interest and motivation of students in a subject and, in addition, if the competition is incorporated into the game, the students’ motivation increases. As a conclusion, we should highlight that the results obtained by the students showed that the concept of network architecture was understood.