Computer Networking Overview

Computer networking can be defined as the connection of two or more computers by either wired, wireless, or mobile means. Computer networks are the means by which people share information and data between computers, and they do so in many different ways for many different purposes, virtually every second of the day. Setting up a wired network requires ad hoc networking cables and the computers' internal network interfaces, along with a network switch that physically connects all the computers on the network. Wireless networks need no cables, relying instead on a wireless switch or router along with the wireless network adapters built-in to most modern computers to connect and communicate with the other computers on the same network via wireless radio signals. In either case, a network router is then used to connect the computer network to the internet.

The importance of computer networking to life in the 21st century, and therefore the benefit of an education in networking, cannot be overemphasized. At this point, the internet is necessary for efficient and pleasurable operation of nearly every aspect of human life, and the internet consists of little more than a massive globally interconnected network (hence, inter-net) of computer networks. Put another way, computers would hold little value for society if they were unable to connect with each other, especially at a distance, thereby transmitting data from one person to another. Among more specialized data, computer networks allow one to share files, programs, and resources with others, a level of functionality that many people's jobs rely on.

Some of the subfields and applications of an education in computer networking include:

  • Network Architecture — The designing and building of various computer networks (PANs, LANs, MANs, WANs).
  • Network Management — The maintenance and management of established computer networks.
  • Cybersecurity — The protection and security of the network and any data (particularly sensitive data) that may be on it.
  • Forensics — The investigation and analysis of digital crime that has taken place on a given network.
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Computer Networks Topics

Educational Resources for Computer Networking has many resources available for those computer science students looking to dig deeper into the minutiae of networking. Courses cover the largest topics and issues in computer and IT networking, from network communication to forensics and security. College-level courses include hundreds of high-quality lessons along with practice tests and quizzes, and assignments to help students achieve their learning goals and demonstrate what they have learned about networks in a practical way.

Computer Networking Courses and Lessons

Students interested in information technology will find great value in these college-level computer networking courses. has many courses on the basics of computer networking, including types of networks, relevant networking technologies, and basic networking concepts. Even more courses deal with the specific details of networks, their analysis and security; there is more than enough information for the burgeoning computer scientist no matter their level of learning.

Computer Science 108: Introduction to Networking

This college-level introduction to networking will be of great use to students interested in computer science careers. It provides a look at the details of computer networking, including the types of networks, security systems, and the necessary hardware.

Computer Science 202: Network and System Security

Students looking to work in IT will find this college course on system security to be an important step in their education. The class addresses forms of information and network security including firewall, encryption, and network authentication systems.

Computer Science 302: Systems Analysis & Design

This course takes the basics of systems analysis and applies it to software engineering. College-level chapters deal with the systems development and design life cycles, along with computer systems modeling, architecture, support, and security.

Computer Science 323: Wireless & Mobile Networking

A good follow-up to the Intro to Networking course, this college class focuses specifically on mobile and wireless networks. Lessons cover the various types of wireless networks, including light-based and radio-based networks, their requirements, and security.

Computer Science 336: Network Forensics

This college-level course is geared toward students studying the intersection of IT and the criminal justice system. The course discusses the application of forensic analysis and investigation to networking, along with how to detect and prevent digital crime.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are computer networks?

    Computer networks are groups of two or more computers connected by cables or wirelessly. These networks allow people to share programs, resources, and files digitally.

  • What are the four main types of computer networks?

    The four main types of computer networks are personal, local, metropolitan, and wide area networks. These perform all functions at varying levels and are abbreviated as PANs, LANs, MANs, and WANs.