Most of us know that IT is a very lucrative and practical field. However, if you are a total novice looking to enter this field, you might wonder where to start or what your options are. Network computing is a large subfield of IT. Choose one of the available computer networking tutorials for beginners to get a great foundation. If you are already a networking professional, there is always room to keep growing.
What Is Computer Networking?
Computer networking is a much broader field than you might realize. The Internet is the most famous network. However, most of us have also been on a school campus or job site where we dealt with a local area network (LAN). Depending on the size of the organization, we might have dealt with various network professionals: There was a network administrator, who was probably mysterious, or even unknown, if the organization was large; there were helpdesk workers whom we talked to whenever we had a problem; plus, there were many network professionals working between these two.
While there are so many topics that the advanced professional might deal with, there are some basics that good computer networking tutorials for beginners will always address: All networking courses cover the OSI and TCP/IP models; OSI stands for Open Systems Interconnection and refers to a protocol by which different systems can interact. TCP/IP stands for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol and is the connection protocol that governs the Internet.
As mentioned above, various network scopes are possible. There are LANs that are institution-wide and have a firewall (controlling barrier between network communications) to regulate interactions with any WANs (wide area networks) and with the Internet. There are also virtual local area networks (VLANs), which offer a variety of security and convenience benefits for the user.
Many courses make reference to various network devices: hubs, switches, and routers. All three of these regulate where data is sent. The overall design of a network is usually referred to as network topology – this can be physical or logical topology, depending on whether the emphasis is on mapping where the various devices are or how the network operates. You will hear the term protocol repeatedly. Protocol is what it sounds like: rules of engagement within a network or between networks.
Obviously, network security is a huge deal in modern times. More advanced networking professionals deal with intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDS/IPS). These appliances identify, record, halt, and report any risky or hostile interactions with the network. Cisco is a leading provider of secure network solutions, and so Cisco offers its own certifications.
Great Online Source of Computer Networking Courses
Udemy has a great selection of educational materials in a variety of areas, including its extensive selection of computer networking courses. It is not an online education site directed at degree-seekers, but it is perfect for the person who wants to create his/her own learning program to reach individual life and career goals. A few of its courses are in explicitly fun areas, such as video games, dance, drawing and dating; however, users generally find even the very technical courses to be engaging.
Udemy courses are excellent and have full prices that might look a little high – sometimes over $100. However, frequently, Udemy has very big sales where you can get such a course for under $20. So, do not let the full prices scare you off. Also, in many instances, you can watch one or more video lectures of a course for free and with no subscription or registration, to get a feel for whether you want to continue. Also, there is a 30-day period in which you can essentially return the course and get all of your money back.
Another great thing about Udemy is that many of its beginner courses are quite extensive – to the point that, if you see them through to the end, you will definitely be on the intermediate level within a relatively short period of time. Even though many Udemy beginner courses include practical exercises, you really cannot be truly advanced in networking, or any other area, without some real-life experience. That said, computer networking tutorials for beginners are a great way to demonstrate that you are ready for a job, internship, or other position that will give you that real-life experience (and possibly income or a resume feature).
Aside from computer networking topics, Udemy has an extensive selection of courses in related IT areas: front-end and back-end web development, IT and business management, cloud-based services, software development, app development, cybersecurity, data analysis, ethical hacking, and more. There are an assortment of certification prep courses: AWS (Amazon Web Services), Oracle, Azure, Microsoft, and more.
Specific Courses You Need to Consider
For a true beginner, the best Udemy course (and possibly the best overall) is Introduction to Computer Networks for Non-Techies. Considering that it is “for non-techies,” it is surprisingly extensive. Since it truly starts at the beginning, it is perfect for those who have no former experience with computer networking, aside from normal use of network-provided features, such as email or workplace computer usage. It is great for students or specialists in non-tech fields who want to boost their tech knowledge.
The course starts by giving the student a sense of what a network is, and then it moves on to networking topics such as topology, the OSI and TCP/IP models, layer protocols, network planning, and more. This course is purely informative – it is not part of any certification or degree program.
Networking Essentials is still beginner-level, but it is aimed at those who have some networking experience – or at least an understanding of the basics – but not professionals. It goes into more intricate detail about troubleshooting, Active Directory, TCP/IP, and name-resolution. (Name-resolution has to do with finding I.D. numbers for network entities.)
This course focuses on the Windows control panel (firewalls, Device and Task Manager, Event Logs) and features “hands-on” exercises involving Windows. This course is a great way to get up to speed if you are building a resume for a networking job. However, like the course above, it is not part of any degree or certification program.
The Complete Networking Fundamentals Course: Your CCNA Start, as its name suggests, is quite extensive and is aimed at Cisco certification seekers. In fact, the instructor includes with the purchase of this course his CCENT and CCNA exam prep courses. (CCENT stands for Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician. CCNA stands for Cisco Certified Network Associate.) There are no prerequisites, but this is definitely catered to those who want Cisco certification rather than a general introduction to computer networking. Also, the length and detail level of the course is excessive for true beginners who just want to get a sense of the field. More advanced topics characteristic of the CCNA exam are covered – ACLs, IP telephony, SDN and OpenFlow, and VLANs—to name a few. (ACLs stands for Access Control Lists, which govern whether or not network entities may communicate.
IP telephony is the delivery of voice communication over a network. SDN is software-defined networking, which has to do with the way a networking professional controls where/how data is sent, and OpenFlow is a related protocol.)
Computer Networks Security from Scratch to Advanced does not entirely start from scratch; in fact, it is really more of an intermediate course. It is directed at those with some computer networking and applications, computer science, or computer engineering experience. It is good for those who are already in some sort of tech-related field but would like to better understand computer networks, especially network security, a little better. The course hones skills in network security especially. It addresses topics such as firewalls, physical security, incident handling, and intrusion detection and protection.
If you would like to get Cisco certification but do not feel quite ready to dive into a full test prep course, consider Cisco Networking Fundamentals & LABS! Another great thing about this course is, as its name suggests, that it includes plenty of “hands-on” opportunities in the form of labs; therefore, this is a great course for the person who learns by doing. If you are interested in the Cisco material but struggle to read/listen through all the necessary teachings, this course might solve your problem. The course covers the essentials, with a special emphasis on VLANs.
Computer Networking Is Powerful and In-Demand
Computer networking has obvious ties to data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), business/organization management, cybersecurity, and, possibly, medicine (electronic medical records). It is an area that every computer scientist or engineer should be at least somewhat familiar with.
Even if you are not a techie at all, you should consider an appropriate beginner course, because you are probably working with networks every day – would it not be better to understand what is behind the system you are using? Therefore, almost no matter who you are, you can probably get something out of a computer networking course. If you are already succeeding as a networking professional, there is always room for growth – this is a great career for the practical, value-driven, and/or ambitious person.