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Take a Free Networking Class From Stanford

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the beats-tuition dept.

Networking 128

New submitter philip.levis writes "Nick McKeown and I are offering a free, online class on computer networking. We're professors of computer science and electrical engineering at Stanford and are also co-teaching Stanford's networking course this quarter. The free, online class will run about six weeks and is intended to be accessible to people who don't program: the prerequisites are an understanding of probability, bits and bytes, and how computers lay out memory. Given how important the Internet is, we think a more accessible course on the principles and practice of computer networks could be a very valuable educational resource. I'm sure many Slashdot readers will already know much of what we'll cover, but for those who don't, here's an opportunity to learn!"

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Why is this a news story? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41577753)

Seriously Slashdot, stop. Just stop.

Re:Why is this a news story? (1)

fufufang (2603203) | about 2 years ago | (#41577887)

Seriously Slashdot, stop. Just stop.

Because computer network is something every geek is interested in?

Re:Why is this a news story? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41578193)

>> Seriously Slashdot, stop. Just stop.

> Because computer network is something every geek is interested in?

Yes, correctly pointed out, I couldn't say it better. The only doubt was whether the guy is just a troll or an authentic jerk...

Anyway, I was thinking today about our elections here in Brazil and how things are smooth over here: I voted at 15 o'clock (3 PM) and we will have the results at about 22h (10 PM)... today. This for some 140 million votes, give it or take it.

US people used to be like these guys (or RMS, which can clearly be included here): inventive,participative, acting, outgoing, defiant of the status quo and all the other qualities which impart such a strong dynamics to US economy.

But then there's a sort of problems which bring economy to a stand still, like software patents. Nevertheless, I thought it's not solely about patents, it's the litigious climate -- and lawyers who think in economic terms. Do lawyers consider things like what's best for the country?

I seriously doubt it, in the general case, but there may be exceptions...

Re:Why is this a news story? (1)

tqk (413719) | about 2 years ago | (#41578535)

What does any of that have to do with Stanford profs offering a free course in networking?

[Disclaimer: I just signed up for it, and am looking forward to it. Thanks /. for the notify.]

Re:Why is this a news story? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41578929)

There doesn't need to be any connection for many to make a random back-handed slap at the United States.
There's plenty of REAL reasons to complain about the US, without making more up... not that it will ever stop.

Re:Why is this a news story? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41580169)

Dude, I got a -1. Some genius mind-reader decided I was "complaining" about the your counry (what do I gain if any good comes of some badly worded advice I gave -- a medal?)

Let's say someone really is against foreigners talking anything wrt the US. I find it foolish and would welcome any talk about my country (in fact, we're kinda focus seeking, I'd say), but, hey, whatever floats you colllective boat... kthxbai!

Sorry if my words really can be read as anything offensive. Maybe this English thing is harder than I thought and I should try other languages...

Re:Why is this a news story? (1)

tqk (413719) | about 2 years ago | (#41581081)

Dude, I got a -1.

In what? You mean /. moderation -1? BFD. :-P

Some genius mind-reader decided I was "complaining" about the your [country] (what do I gain if any good comes of some badly worded advice I gave -- a medal?)

A pat on the back? "Good job." "Better luck next time." "You suck, hoser!" "Hey, at least you spelled everything correctly." "DIE, you !@#$%%^**()_+!@#$@!!!!!"

Let's say someone really is against foreigners talking anything wrt the US. I find it foolish and would welcome any talk about my country (in fact, we're kinda focus seeking, I'd say), but, hey, whatever floats you colllective boat... kthxbai!

I talk trash about the US all the time. They deserve it! I also wish I were in Amsterdam (and a lot of other places). Sucks to be me. Crap, did I say that out loud?!?

Sorry if my words really can be read as anything offensive. Maybe this English thing is harder than I thought and I should try other languages...

I like Spanish. Habla Espanol? Que pasa? Buenos dias|tardes|noches.

I really have no idea what you're talking about, but I do love the way you say it. We should start up a club for people like us.

"Now it's back to the brightness, and everything I hate." -- Chronicles of Riddick.

Re:Why is this a news story? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41580991)

see!? it's shit like this that really pisses me off

Re:Why is this a news story? (2, Insightful)

ModernGeek (601932) | about 2 years ago | (#41578839)

I know that this is going to be an unpopular statement, and I'm sure to be moderated into oblivion for saying this, but Slashdot doesn't need a bunch of advertisements for a free micky-mouse level class from a University that is pandering for some free publicity. Those of us with experience that have been in this business long enough know what it means when someone says, "Stop. Just stop."

If you want to look at advertisements in disguise for micky-mouse schools, and cheap DIY-hacks, there are sites and social networks for that, but it is unwelcome here, and we aren't prepared to lurk back into the corners of the Internet on IRC.

This is a place where a lot of professionals reside, and we are better than being lured into junk, overpriced four-year under graduate programs that leave the participants both unemployed and in-debt. It is the duty of the users of this site to mark this garbage move as what it is, a sham.

Re:Why is this a news story? (2)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 2 years ago | (#41577909)

Maybe because it's apparently being offered by Stanford directly, not their spin-off, Coursera? (There's no way Slashdot could reasonably run an article for every new Coursera class; there's tons of them now.)

Why is this comment always made? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41577991)

Seriously Coward, stop. Just stop.

Re:Why is this comment always made? (1)

tqk (413719) | about 2 years ago | (#41578557)

Seconded. All in favour, say aye.

Re:Why is this a news story? (1)

tqk (413719) | about 2 years ago | (#41578503)

You're an idiot.

IPv6 (4, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#41577767)

Just a quick glance at the syllabus, and I didn't see anything about IPv6, if IPv6 gets deployed in the next 4 years, wouldn't that make the intro course essentially obsolete before anyone finished a degree? Remember, this is the year of IPv6 on the desktop.

Re:IPv6 (5, Insightful)

rogueippacket (1977626) | about 2 years ago | (#41577819)

I would agree with you if it were a 12 or 16 week course - but there is a lot to talk about in terms of the physical and data link layers and plain IPv4 before even addressing IPv6. Six weeks is barely enough time to provide a solid foundation there.

Re:IPv6 (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 2 years ago | (#41578397)

Except the lower layers typically aren't your problem, or require much "design". You buy 10G equipment from a reputable vendor, and you dont worry about it. What IS important is layer 3 and layer 4 stuff - that's where people fail all the time. "can you make a DNS entry for a webserver on a different port?" "its easier if you just use the 169.254 subnet" etc.

Re:IPv6 (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#41579077)

Especially if one thinks of the "complex" parts of L2 in L3 equivalence. STP sometimes seems to be RIP, based on MAC rather than IP. So if you know RIP well, STP is an easy learn for the concepts, though not some of the tweaking and priorities. Most of the L2 issues are similar to L3. And L2 is often an extension of L3. IGMP snooping and things like that make it silly to learn up the OSI in a linear manner. Why would somone learn IGMP snooping before learning IGMP?

Do NOT skip layer 2. (3, Insightful)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 2 years ago | (#41579715)

I disagree. If you don't learn much of the layer 2 concepts, then you'll probably never learn anything about layer 2 troubleshooting. One time I had to work on a network where they had separate discontiguous VLANs that couldn't talk to one another. I remember a while back hearing about a major hospital whose network failed because their engineers didn't understand some of the more advanced layer 2 concepts. There are also issues such as implementing measures preventing some idiot from creating switching loops that STP can't detect, e.g. cascading some $10 switches they found at wal-mart which are creating a layer 2 broadcast storm that is bringing down an entire VLAN.

Troubleshooting isn't the only thing, you also won't understand layer 2 security, which has been exploited quite a bit lately. Some easy examples would be MAC flooding and MAC spoofing, to the more severe problems like VLAN hopping, and much more that I can't think of off of the top of my head.

Re:Do NOT skip layer 2. (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#41580177)

VLAN hopping is not unlike IP spoofing. You are disagreeing, while proving my point. The "complex" tasks in L2 generally have an analogue in L3. So L2 is of lower importance. And nobody uses L2 security, other than wireless. 802.1x was "invented" for wired networks, but almost no one used it for anything until WPA. And generally, wireless is treated as a separate subject.

Re:Do NOT skip layer 2. (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 2 years ago | (#41580719)

No, not really, in fact I would say not even close.

IP spoofing doesn't give access to portions of the network that are blocked by layer 3 filters, and I mean properly done IP filters that will block address ranges that couldn't have come from the source interface (be it a physical one or SVI.) Even in the rare circumstances that this can be done, often times the routing tables won't handle the return traffic. Not only that, but IP spoofing can't give you access to networks that are logically isolated entirely, nor can it enter isolated PVLANs. Say for example, unauthorized traffic migrating from a DMZ to the trusted network.

Unlike IP spoofing, VLAN hopping can do all of the above, unless of course you wanted to go back to pre 2001 technology and do away with layer 3 switches, and even do away with VLAN's entirely. Or you could be smarter and learn how to handle that sort of problem by learning about layer 2.

There was a slashdot article recently about how people have been getting data stolen on hotel networks. Layer 3 will not solve that problem without putting ehttp://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3168727&cid=41579715#ach computer on its own subnet, which complicates the hell out of configuring DHCP, not to mention creating a bunch of SVI's (and if you have over 4095 ethernet ports in your building, regardless of the number of switches, you're SOL unless you want to make the configuration and management even more complicated.) Layer 2 PVLANs will solve that problem in a much simpler manner, which of course you wouldn't know how to configure if you didn't know anything about layer 2.

No matter how you slice it, you should NOT ignore layer 2. Given how you made the above statement about IP spoofing being like VLAN hopping, it's pretty obvious that you don't know layer 2 that well. In light of that, you really shouldn't be advising people on whether or not they should learn layer 2 when you yourself know nothing about it. I'm not trolling or trying to be rude, that's just reality.

Re:Do NOT skip layer 2. (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#41581119)

IP spoofing doesn't give access to portions of the network that are blocked by layer 3 filters, and I mean properly done IP filters that will block address ranges that couldn't have come from the source interface

And how does that differ from a properly configured port not allowing VLAN hopping?

Unlike IP spoofing, VLAN hopping can do all of the above, unless of course you wanted to go back to pre 2001 technology and do away with layer 3 switches, and even do away with VLAN's entirely.

You are making it sound harder than it is.

No matter how you slice it, you should NOT ignore layer 2.

Fuck you. I'm done. You are wrong. And you are lying. I never said someone should ignore layer 2. If you are going to lie to make your points, I can't think of any response short of "fuck you".

I'm not trolling or trying to be rude, that's just reality.

The reality is that, unless you quote a post where I said "You should ignore layer 2" then you are a lying troll who is lying to be rude to prove some point that nobody but you cares about. Layer 2 is easy. 802.1x solved everything you are talking about, and I first deployed that 15+ years ago, long before it was turned into a wireless security mechanism (I pointed out that the reception area was unsecured and anyone could walk up and plug into the LAN to justify the cost to secure it). I'm sure you do a good job of making money inflating the risks of layer 2 issues. But the simple reality is that you generally trust your ports enough that none of it matters. If they have access to a port, they are an employee. VLAN hopping is so much harder than the other ways a trusted employee could cause trouble. It's like robbing the cashier at the police station. You'd have to be a dumbass to bother when you are already a valid user, and if you aren't, then you don't have physical security, so someone could compromise your networks in lots of other ways.

Re:Do NOT skip layer 2. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41581005)

My layer laughs at your layer. My layer is level 3; my layer lives above your layer.

Re:IPv6 (3, Interesting)

kasperd (592156) | about 2 years ago | (#41578531)

there is a lot to talk about in terms of the physical and data link layers and plain IPv4 before even addressing IPv6.

It would be better to teach plain IPv6 before you start addressing IPv4.

Re:IPv6 (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#41578927)

They mention routing. Understanding routing requires understanding the history of routing. CIDR is a meaningless term if you just learn CIDR from day one, as you would have to learn classes to understand the distinction of classless, so covering CIDR would be a redundant history lesson, followed by why we ignore the history now, and that classes and CIRD are irrelevant with IPv6.

So I'm curious how, 10 years from now when we are all IPv6 native and IPv4 is used only by child porn pushers, how classes/CIDR will be taught.

Does it matter that CIRD is a common term used to denote "subnet mask bits" - e.g. "slash" notation is called by many CIRD notation, rather than masks. /8 is CIDR, 255.0.0.0 is the mask. They are equivelent, but if you don't know what CIDR is, you'll have trouble understanding the first, which doesn't need CIDR, as people using CIDR often call it a "class A address" even if it is not class A (if someone referred to the 192.168.0.0 network as a class B network, as it's, by definition of classes, 256 Class C networks. So, from what I've seen, most technical people who should know better, don't care. To learn what it should be and why for much of this requires a "history of the Internet" class. Then you'll learn why window sizes are what they are, how RFCs are made, and many of the choices in routing protocols only make sense when you have the context of when and how they were made, and that makes them easier to understand, especially when needing to come up with work arounds for issues you run into.

Re:IPv6 (1)

kasperd (592156) | about 2 years ago | (#41579761)

You can explain how the hierarchy of networks and prefix lengths work without having to explain the entire history of classes and CIDR. With IPv6 I don't think you'll hear people talking about class A, B, and C networks, because the prefix lengths for those are only defined for IPv4. If you are teaching this stuff, you'll have to decide if you are teaching a history lesson or if you are teaching how it works. In the later case a lot of history should be left out.

Re:IPv6 (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#41580121)

In a practical sense, if you were interviewing a "network expert" who didn't know what "class A" meant, would you trust them? It seems like a core piece of knowledge. When you teach RIP v2, do you just pretend RIP v1 didn't exist? How do you explain why RIP v1 was mostly unusable in most networks due to classes being required?

You can teach RIP v2 and let everyone assume there was some older RIP that's unused, but curious students should ask why. It's hard to teach anything without teaching history. The history of everything is related to the thing.

Re:IPv6 (2, Interesting)

Pseudonym Authority (1591027) | about 2 years ago | (#41577851)

Not even Cisco teaches IPv6 in their shitty little Network Academy (they also teach very little OSPF, and are really big on their proprietary EIGRP).

I can't think of any basic networking class that teaches IPv6.

Re:IPv6 (2)

CodeheadUK (2717911) | about 2 years ago | (#41578281)

My CCNA class skipped IPv6 in favour of extra security stuff because 'no-one cares about IPV6'.

I've since done some HP Networking training and exams. They're better on teaching open standards; LACP rather than etherchannel, LLDP rather than CDP, etc. However, the material still glossed over IPv6. There were very few questions on it in the exams, and if it's not in the exam, people won't learn it.

Re:IPv6 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41578465)

For the CCNA exam, be sure to know how to recognize and differentiate IPv6 addresses.

Re:IPv6 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41578305)

When did you last take a Network Academy class? Perhaps you took it a long time (in Internet time) ago or at a substandard academy. My students get quite a bit of IPv6 material, granted I am supplementing in a good bit of that but it would be untruthful to say that there is NO IPv6 in the standard academy materials. IPv6 is coming and I tell my students they better be ready for it because a lot of other people aren't.

Regarding OSPF/EIGRP...the more recent versions of the academy classes have been much more balanced in their coverage though I agree it used to be the case that EIGRP was really pushed. It also depends how far you go though the classes. For example, if you take the Network Academy CCNP classes you will get pretty deep into OSPF, IS-IS and BGP.

I have my own issues with Cisco but you really can't deny that they have really advanced network education with their academy. Is it perfect? Of course not, but we are light years ahead of where we would be without it. Your personal experience may be what it was but I'm saying don't discount the whole program because of your experience.

Re:IPv6 (0)

Pseudonym Authority (1591027) | about 2 years ago | (#41578567)

Six or so years ago. It's good to know that it's gotten better. It seemed like it was mostly just memorizing 192.168.1.1 and using their GUI tools to make stuff work. Tell me, is Packet Tracer still the worthless, buggy piece of shit that it used to be (when I was using version 3, I think)?

Re:IPv6 (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 2 years ago | (#41579447)

I agree, Cisco has overall done a very good job in setting up their education program. I've already had on the job experience, and nearly all of what you learn is applicable to every vendor. I've even worked on brocade and HP equipment that looks and behaves remarkably similar to Cisco's IOS.

Re:IPv6 (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 2 years ago | (#41579423)

I've learned almost all I know about networking from the Cisco Network Academy offered at a local community college. Part of the course material is to learn OSPF pretty extensively, even going as far as to explain the differences in how it handles single access or multiple access, and in doing so how the DR and DRO elections work.

There is a fair amount of coverage on EIGRP, but I would say they teach both about the same. The teacher plainly told me that you never see EIGRP in a mixed environment. However on the job, I have actually used EIGRP. What I found shocking while on the job though, and they don't teach this at the network academy, is that there are other vendors who fully implement CDP, such as brocade, netapp, and HP, even though there are other non-proprietary standards around like LLDP. Granted you'll generally turn off CDP for security purposes, it is nice thing to have once in a while.

But most importantly, we did go over IPv6, although not extensively. We went over the packet header (simpler than IPv4, actually,) EUI-64, routable vs non-routable adresses and a few other things. The majority of the concepts from IPv4 (mainly subnetting) translate well into IPv6 though.

One thing to keep in mind though, is that not all Cisco Network Academies are created equal, just as not all colleges are created equal. There's a college called Gateway nearby that has notoriously bad teachers which won't even allow the students to cable their own routers (they say they might break them) and won't allow them to make their own cables (they say it creates a mess.) The one I went to for CCNA (and am going to for CCNP) is remarkably good, enough to the point that recruiters around the state recruit from there. Not even just from the Cisco students, but from the Linux and Microsoft ones as well, and soon they are adding EMC/vMware to their catalog.

Having said all of that, I can understand why some schools won't teach much IPv6, namely because in spite of it being around for so long, nearly all corporate and small business networks (where the vast majority of students will work) don't even touch IPv6. I could see maybe if you were working for an ISP or were working on some nationwide project, but that doesn't happen very often.

shows how 4 year degree are not for IT / desktop w (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#41578215)

shows how 4 year degree are not for IT / desktop / sever / network work.

and why IT needs to be tech / trades like with out being tied to a college time table. And having teachers who are not in school for life.

Re:IPv6 (1)

fm6 (162816) | about 2 years ago | (#41578285)

IPv6 is already deployed. Its on my Windows laptop (and has been for a couple years) and is supported by my ISP. But knowledge of IPv6 doesn't become essential until substatnial bits of the Intertubes stop using IPv4. That might well be more than 4 years away.

And even when that happens, it might well make sense for an introductory course to concentrate on a more simple model that beginners can more easily understand. I have a friend who teaches introductory assembly language as a way of helping CC students understand computer fundamentals. Does he teach the latest x64 processors? No, he teachs a processor that's much easier to understand, the venerable 6502.

Re:IPv6 (3, Interesting)

kasperd (592156) | about 2 years ago | (#41578507)

it might well make sense for an introductory course to concentrate on a more simple model that beginners can more easily understand.

In that case teach IPv6 and skip the parts that nobody use. IPv6 is a little bit simpler than IPv4. There is not a huge difference, but there is certainly no point in teaching an obsolete technology for simplicity, when it isn't simpler. IPv4 is not entirely obsolete yet, but judging from the number of people who think IPv6 is more complicated than IPv4, I perceive that there must be a shortage of people who understand IPv6.

Re:IPv6 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41578349)

IPv4 and IPv6 are not that different. It is very unlikely that the course will teach anything that applies to IPv4 that doesn't also apply to IPv6.

Re:IPv6 (1)

philip.levis (1997004) | about 2 years ago | (#41579087)

No, it wouldn't. IPv6 deployment does not mean IPv4 will disappear. There are a lot of market and backwards compatibility reasons (e.g., the monetary value of IPv4 addresses). The course's coverage of IPv6 is mostly in the realm of names and addresses. We don't go into the mechanisms (such as ND, RA, etc.), mostly because it is much easier for students to interact and observe IPv4 networks than IPv6 ones. Generally speaking, for introductory material like this it's better to teach about a certain today than a hypothetical tomorrow.

Excellent idea, but... (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#41577771)

I love the concept, but there is a problem: your prerequisites will exclude the overwhelming majority of non-programmers, and might even exclude a few novice programmers. Probability and how memory is laid out in a computer are the biggest issues here; even many computer science programs do not cover these topics until the second or third year.

Re:Excellent idea, but... (4, Insightful)

DamonHD (794830) | about 2 years ago | (#41577857)

Probability should be taught early on at school, not waiting for university!

Rgds

Damon

Re:Excellent idea, but... (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#41578043)

You would think so, but let's put it this way: a large number of the undergrads I have met are baffled by the Monty Hall problem, and that includes those who have actually taken probability in college. Probability is just not taught very well these days.

Re:Excellent idea, but... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41578235)

That's a pretty bad example. The Monty Hall problem is often disputed even among the very well educated, and for a time that even included Paul Erdos (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monty_Hall_problem).

Being baffled by the Monty Hall problem would not seem to be a reliable indicator of poor probability education. It just shows that the Monty Hall problem, for most people, isn't intuitive *despite* being educated.

Graybeard. (1)

Ostracus (1354233) | about 2 years ago | (#41580109)

Well when I went to school probability didn't even exist. :)

Re:Excellent idea, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41581017)

the odds of that happening are pretty slim.

Did you see that? I said 'odds' get it? get it?

Re:Excellent idea, but... (2)

Zapotek (1032314) | about 2 years ago | (#41577901)

My thoughts exactly...Also, why would knowledge of these areas be a prerequisite for a networking class to begin with?
I'm not being snide, I'd actually like an answer if possible.

Re:Excellent idea, but... (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#41578037)

Well probability will be needed for information theory, error correcting codes, and cryptography. I am not sure if that is how detailed this course is going to get though.

As for the layout of memory, I would just guess that they might talk about security and e.g. buffer overflows.

Re:Excellent idea, but... (1)

Zapotek (1032314) | about 2 years ago | (#41578097)

That sounds like a bad idea, that strays a lot from networking. Not to mention the fact that if someone has memory management/layout related knowledge he'll already know about buffer-overflows, ROP and other related security matters and will most likely also have a decent amount of programming experience (unless they meant a "looked at a memory layout diagram once" level knowledge).
I'm curious now...I may sign-up just to see how they'll weave these different topics together in their material.

Re:Excellent idea, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41578933)

Queuing theory in buffer sizing, performance analysis and so on..

Re:Excellent idea, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41581125)

I will join this dick-measuring contest. My submission:

The eigenvalues of random Hermitian matrices.

Re:Excellent idea, but... (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 2 years ago | (#41579547)

All of that goes beyond the realm of networking to be honest, with the slight exception of cryptography. As far as cryptography goes, you don't bother with that until you are at a more advanced level, and even then, you only need to be familiar with the names of the algorithms and the general purpose of each.

Most of what you are talking about goes in the area of computer science, and networking doesn't necessarily include computer science, and likewise, computer science in itself doesn't necessarily include networking.

Re:Excellent idea, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41580539)

Seems a little over kill, but maybe the memory handling requirement could be for understanding byte order.

that is the college line of thinking loads theory (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#41578247)

that is the college line of thinking loads of theory that for most people is not needed or is off base too top level.

Also all that knowledge is too much one size fit's all where networking can be it's own class track with people needing different levels of it based on what they are working with.

Re:Excellent idea, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41578251)

Probability is good for modeling traffic flow. Also, memory layout is useful in knowing how best to implement buffering.

Re:Excellent idea, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41577905)

Probability is something that commonly gets taught in Middle School. If you don't remember it you may want to brush up.

Re:Excellent idea, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41578693)

Even here in the US? I don't think so. At the very least, even if it's taught, no one truly understands it because it's likely taught poorly.

Re:Excellent idea, but... (3, Informative)

philip.levis (1997004) | about 2 years ago | (#41579107)

Talking about packet formats is difficult if the student doesn't understand the idea of bits, bytes, and memory addresses. How memory is laid out isn't mean to imply segments, pages, virtual memory, caches, registers, or anything like that, just the idea that you have cells of bytes.

Looking forward, I agree with you -- it would not be hard to figure out how to present some background material on these topics to make the course more accessible. But this is just the first time we're teaching it. We'll learn and adjust the content appropriately. For this first time, though, we didn't want to venture too far from what we're used to teaching. It's enough of a change to move from live lectures to recorded videos and handle all of the structural differences in an online course.

Re:Excellent idea, but... (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 2 years ago | (#41579515)

I haven't read any details about the Stanford one yet, but the Cisco Network Academy I went to starts you from scratch. No need for programming, no need for understanding memory (though I am a novice programmer, the other students who had no knowledge whatsoever picked it up fine.) By the time you're done, you can easily count in binary up to 8 bits in your head.

My thought exactly (as a non-programmer) (1)

TheSeatOfMyPants (2645007) | about 2 years ago | (#41580321)

I can see non-programmers like me fulfilling the first few of them, but something tells me the probability he's referring to isn't what we used back in high school or college math, and I have no idea where we would have learned the layout of memory outside of a programming class. When I took a college C programming class (which I barely passed & didn't learn from), the instructor said that handling RAM was taught in the "advanced" C class, as we needed to master the basics first; I similarly didn't see any mention of it when I looked into college Linux/UNIX and shell scripting classes several months ago.

First Byte! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41577849)

...and knowledge of how computers lay out data in memory.

Windows or Linux?

I must be coming back from too far away... (1)

LostCluster2.0 (2637341) | about 2 years ago | (#41577859)

Non-programmers... on Slashdot? Did the demographics of the user base here change when I wasn't looking?

Re:I must be coming back from too far away... (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 2 years ago | (#41578187)

Non-programmers... on Slashdot?

What do you think IT people are?

Re:I must be coming back from too far away... (1)

xclr8r (658786) | about 2 years ago | (#41578195)

Not all engineers are programmers, not all Sciences involve programming. Slashdot has had a gaming section for a long time and definitely not all gamers are programmers. The demographics have changed but not as much as one might think. I'm actually thinking that those science fields are picking up more on programming than use to be the case.

Re:I must be coming back from too far away... (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#41578313)

Keep in mind that "news for nerds" does not just mean "news about things that nerds are paid to do;" it also means "news about things that affect nerds or might otherwise be of interest." Considering how poor the general understanding of computers and computer networks is among the majority of the population, and the fact that the poor understanding of technology leads people to institute or accept policies and to make choices that Slashdot readers typically think are bad, a course that is supposed to help the non-technical public understand important technical topics counts as "news for nerds."

Aargh!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41577885)

I would love to take your networking class but I can't get many stupid network to work! If I knew how to do that, I wouldn't need the BLOODY CLASS!

For Credit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41577889)

Is this a for credit class that can be transferred to another school?

Re: For Credit? (1)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about 2 years ago | (#41577963)

Nope, you can get a certificate at the end of the course though. Stanford makes it pretty clear, they dont offer credits for these courses.

Can I sign my US Senators up for this? (2)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 years ago | (#41577917)

I suspect most would benefit from an introductory course.

Re:Can I sign my US Senators up for this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41578227)

Well you could call your senator and tell them to take the class. You could mention how voters in the technical community would be more likely to vote for them. Or at the very least, it might help them gain respect from that voting block.

Re:Can I sign my US Senators up for this? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41578401)

Well you could call your senator and tell them to take the class. You could mention how voters in the technical community would be more likely to vote for them. Or at the very least, it might help them gain respect from that voting block.

Senators, by and large, need an 'introduction to the introduction' class and, unfortunately Ted 'the Tubes' Stevens isn't with us anymore to help guide the curriculum. Judging from what comes out of Congress the days a blank chalkboard is about all we could expect most of them to be able to handle on their own.

Re:Can I sign my US Senators up for this? (1)

redneckmother (1664119) | about 2 years ago | (#41579133)

Well you could call your senator and tell them to take the class. You could mention how voters in the technical community would be more likely to vote for them. Or at the very least, it might help them gain respect from that voting block.

Senators, by and large, need an 'introduction to the introduction' class and, unfortunately Ted 'the Tubes' Stevens isn't with us anymore to help guide the curriculum. Judging from what comes out of Congress the days a blank chalkboard is about all we could expect most of them to be able to handle on their own.

s/chalkboard/checkbook/

If only we could deny them the writing instruments!

Interesting idea... (1)

Raxxon (6291) | about 2 years ago | (#41577933)

As usually said on woot "In for one".

Should prove interesting. I've been a network engineer since 94 and I'm quite honestly disgusted by people who claim to be network engineers these days who don't understand the difference between Bit/Byte, the concept of a Packet or what CSMA/CD is. Administrators I'd expect that from, they don't really need to know these things. Engineers should, IMO. These are the basic building blocks of "traditional ethernet" networks, how can I expect someone to actually design something properly if they don't understand the basics?

Honestly I'm signing up for the course just to see how it's handled. If they decide to offer this in the future I can think of a few "Power Users" in my sphere of influence that might benefit from this, even if it's just the basic basics. I'm not expecting high detail of the low level stuff, but if it can actually help people understand what a packet is and how it traverses the internet at large then it's going to be a BIG step forward for some people and be of benefit to anyone who wants to hold any position in IT in general....

Re:Interesting idea... (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 2 years ago | (#41579577)

I don't know about anybody who claims to be a network engineer these days other than my peers, and all of us have been through CCNA, and you can't pass CCNA if you don't know that, and a lot more.

Re:Interesting idea... (1)

Raxxon (6291) | about 2 years ago | (#41580017)

Last time I looked at the CCNA courses I considered it "baseline" stuff (this being back in 99/00 timeframe). But I know a number of people who say the words "Network Engineer" and yet the only "engineering" they've done is to hire a cabling contractor to lay cables and then plug them into a few switches. The phrases "Network Map" and "Site Bible" mean nothing to them. There's no documentation of the design/implementation of the network, there's usually no disaster plan, half the time a simple stupidity of a network loop caused by an end user with a switch in their cube takes days to figure out beyond "If we disconnect this switch the network starts working again"

Ugh, I didn't think I'd be getting to the crotchety old man phase this soon... "Damn kids, get off my e-lawn!"

Re:Interesting idea... (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 2 years ago | (#41580639)

Part of the class grade was that you had to document very well everything you did in the class labs. Not just physical and logical topology diagrams, but also a writeup of what configuration choices you made and why.

I've heard from some people who I've shown what I've done that say that what I learned was formerly only CCNP and even some CCIE material, meanwhile CCNP and CCIE have advanced much further.

Supposedly back in 2007 there was a major revision to the CCNA course material, and before that another one in 2004, and before that another one in 2001 or so, though the 2007 revision was supposedly the biggest.

Corsera... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41577955)

Okay... so how is this any different from the dozens of courses "from" Stanford on Corsera?

This is quite interesting since Corsera is a Stanford project... I wonder what the politics were that made them go this route instead?

Thank you (1)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | about 2 years ago | (#41577957)

You didn't have to do this. With Stanford's name behind you, you might even have made a fair chunk of cash selling it. But you didn't.

Thank you.

Will it be adequate training for Cisco cert exams? (2)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about 2 years ago | (#41578005)

Will this course teach enough to be useful for those who want to go into networking on a professional basis? For instance, will it enable them to pass the first of the Cisco network certifications? Will it confer enough skill and knowledge to do anything practical? Give credit or fill a prerequisite in a program that will go that far? Or is it just a feel-good class?

In my experience with Universities, "FOO for non FOO majors" and other survey classes have impressed me as snow jobs, shoveling out a lot of material in a disconnected and difficult to absorb way. They seemed directed more at giving non FOO majors an increased level of respect for specialists who have mastered the subject than to confer any useful skill or knowledge. I'm hoping this isn't another of the form.

Re:Will it be adequate training for Cisco cert exa (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41578145)

Who gives shit.

Just take it and under education put "Stanford". It'll be one more thing to help get through today's hiring rigmarole. And in today's hiring environment, having anything - anything positive - that gets you noticed is a help.

Re:Will it be adequate training for Cisco cert exa (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41578261)

The task of a university is to help your understanding of principles, not to use the technology of a particular company.

If you want a Cisco certificate, take a class from Cisco.

Re:Will it be adequate training for Cisco cert exa (2)

BenFranske (646563) | about 2 years ago | (#41578355)

I really dislike that argument. The truth is that to really tech you useful skills I have to show you how to do it using somebody's thing. To a large extent it doesn't matter who's stuff I use but I can't really just talk about it abstractly and expect you to be able to actually do anything when you're done. An analogous situation in computer science is that you should be taught ONLY general concepts and no particular programming language...ever...that would be up to you to figure out by yourself. The truth is that you probably need to be shown how to do it in at least one language by someone and then you can translate the concepts to other languages. The same is true for the networking area. If I explain the concepts and then show you how to do it on Cisco equipment you can probably figure out how to do it on just about any equipment. This is also why we don't just explain literary concepts abstractly, almost all literature teachers will use particular books as examples of the concept. Most people learn much better if there is an example...whether it's networking or literature. If that's not you great, but you're in the minority.

Re:Will it be adequate training for Cisco cert exa (1)

DaMattster (977781) | about 2 years ago | (#41578875)

The task of a university is to help your understanding of principles, not to use the technology of a particular company.

If you want a Cisco certificate, take a class from Cisco.

Yes, I agree with this. I don't like the idea of a university stumping for a vendor. Personally, I'm against these vendor-specific certifications and in my experience these vendor training programs do not necessarily produce better network admins/engineers. For the most part it is a money making scheme. I've seen some really shitty network admins and engineers that brag about their CCNA and CCNP. Learning how to do things Cisco's way does not in of itself, make a better network engineer. You have to know the theory first. Plus, there is real competition out there in the form of Huawei and Vyatta and others. You would do better to learn the UNIX networking tools and then just apply that knowledge to the vendor specific stuff.

Re:Will it be adequate training for Cisco cert exa (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 2 years ago | (#41579849)

Actually I've taken the Cisco courses (which are cheap by the way if you take them at a community college like I did - I've spent less for three years worth of classes than the typical university student will spend on one semester) and they cover a lot of theory.

And contrary to the opinion of some, the Cisco courses aren't very vendor specific. Yes they target Cisco's IOS and some of their proprietary protocols (e.g. EIGRP) they are remarkably vendor agnostic. From knowing only what I learned from Cisco courses, I was able to start working on Brocade and HP networking equipment with no trouble at all, as they make their CLI remarkably similar to Cisco's, and from what I've heard, Huawei does as well. Also it may (or may not) interest you and the rest of slashdot to know that Cisco's NX-OS (for their datacenter equipment) runs on the Linux kernel.

I've had a lot of experience using Linux before taking the Cisco courses, but after learning the Cisco courses, now I actually understand very well how the networking side of Linux works (I remember before, looking at the manual for ifconfig made no sense to me whatsoever, and I just followed "here's how to configure your IP address" guides on the net.)

Re:Will it be adequate training for Cisco cert exa (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about 2 years ago | (#41580273)

From knowing only what I learned from Cisco courses, I was able to start working on Brocade and HP networking equipment with no trouble at all, as they make their CLI remarkably similar to Cisco's, and from what I've heard, Huawei does as well.

Redback/Ericsson, as well, uses a virtually identical CLI except where it must change to support Redback specific features. This was done deliberately, to make it easy for people trained on Cisco gear and/or interfacing with it or porting configurations from it. It's like making the steering wheel turn the same way as Ford's. B-)

Huawei may be a special case: I have heard claims that their equipment, at least initially, was a straight clone of Cisco hardware and software. (Things like identical, obscure, automatically-generated error messages, for starters.)

Re:Will it be adequate training for Cisco cert exa (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 2 years ago | (#41580743)

I don't think I would want to learn Huawei anyways, from what I gather (both on slashdot and elsewhere) they are notoriously insecure and lack competent troubleshooting and debugging features.

Re:Will it be adequate training for Cisco cert exa (1)

techsurvivorman (2747221) | about 2 years ago | (#41579613)

A Cisco certification is useful for someone who needs to pick up practical skills immediately and become useful in a job right away. This Stanford course, however, is probably more useful for someone who's been in the industry for sometime and wants to understand networking on a deeper level.

Re:Will it be adequate training for Cisco cert exa (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 2 years ago | (#41579771)

I don't think that's what this would be aimed at. Most of your time as a network engineer will be focused mainly on layers 2 and 3, with a bit of 4 and even less as you go up to 7. From reading the description page, it looks like they are going into layers 6 and 7 rather extensively, (namely talking about HTTP and bittorrent) though I couldn't say for certain without actually going through the course.

Re:Will it be adequate training for Cisco cert exa (1)

BenFranske (646563) | about 2 years ago | (#41580361)

That is typical of what you get when computer science people teach networking classes. It is certainly not the case that all computer scientists and programmers look down on infrastructure people and concepts...but a lot of them do...you'll find that the case on Slashdot as well. People who program don't see the level of training in theory and practice that is important for network engineers and (good) system administrators. They just don't see low level protocols as interesting. Of course, my experience is that these people are often responsible for some horrible networks lacking redundancy, full of inefficiency, etc. The ability to set up a really good enterprise class network is not something that is simple or intuitive, it is programming and design in it's own right. I respect your ability to write software but I find it tedious myself but you don't see me looking down on you...

Stanford (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41578123)

It's really great they're starting to do this. Hopefully in the future we can all go to Stanford.

Re:Stanford (1)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about 2 years ago | (#41578139)

It is the experience of being at stanford and your peers that matter. Not taking courses from the same profs.

Re:Stanford (1)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | about 2 years ago | (#41578151)

But for those who cannot make it to Stanford, for whatever reason, this is (likely to be) considerably better than nothing, I would have thought?

Re:Stanford (1)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about 2 years ago | (#41578221)

This is better because you have a online course with a decent curriculum, assignments and exams. I wouldnt say this is better because it is from Stanford.

Re:Stanford (1)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | about 2 years ago | (#41578483)

This is better because you have a online course with a decent curriculum, assignments and exams. I wouldnt say this is better because it is from Stanford.

It sounds like we are in violent agreement, to be honest — that was the point I was trying to make too, in that, whilst it might not confer all the benefits of studying in person at Stanford, it should still be a high quality learning resource in its own right.

Re:Stanford (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41578657)

Translation: connection, the social kind.
Getting to know the people that go to Stanford or professors and you might find yourself a good job via connections. This is the kind of things that you cannot get from an online course.

Same as non-brand named products. e.g. a cheap Casio watch vs some $$$ watch. While it might offer the same functionality that you are looking, you might not get the same lifestyle status symbol as a side effect.

Not quite (1)

TheSeatOfMyPants (2645007) | about 2 years ago | (#41580919)

It's the experience of interacting with people inside & outside the classroom that can keep up with your thoughts/knowledge, respond with ideas that challenge & invigorate you, and that share the drive to excel rather than just going through the motions. It's about finding friends and partners that understand from experience why you did things very few regular teenagers do (like spending most of your free time honing a talent as a teenager rather than goofing off), and that can tackle major projects in the future as equals even if their strengths are very different from yours. I'm a Berkeley alumna rather than from Stanford, but the basic premise is the same for any highly competitive school.

Also, attending a university was originally intended to help people learn to view their society & the world from a variety of angles before the ones they grew up with become too entrenched to look beyond, because that ability makes them much better citizens that are far harder for the government to manipulate and are better-equipped to solve their society's problems.

When adults whose college education spanned a variety of subjects look back on those years from that perspective, they often see that various beliefs shifted quite a bit between graduating from high school and from college, and sometimes can see which experiences changed them. Somebody that belongs at a school like Stanford is far less likely to get that kind of experience out of a regular college -- and nobody will get it by just watching lectures online.

Stop! STOP! (1)

fm6 (162816) | about 2 years ago | (#41578293)

Stop creating kewl online courses that I just have to take faster than I have time to actually take them!

Fantastic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41578679)

Thanks very much guys. Just signed up. I'll probably know a lot of the basics already but hopefully I'll learn a lot of the more technical details.

As an undergrad CS major (1)

incongruency (1683022) | about 2 years ago | (#41578731)

I applaud your efforts to teach this class, and I just enrolled.

Never heard of this university, is it accredited? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41578909)

Because if this is just another pheonix university, I might as well just read the Wiki and stamp my own "3 credits in compooter netwoorking" card.

Re:Never heard of this university, is it accredite (0)

TheSeatOfMyPants (2645007) | about 2 years ago | (#41580939)

I really hope you're being facetious, but if not, look here: Wikipedia: Stanford University [wikipedia.org]

Probability??? (1)

superdave80 (1226592) | about 2 years ago | (#41581067)

...the prerequisites are an understanding of probability,...

What the hell? No wonder the internet slows down for no apparent reason:

User: What are the chances of my packet getting through today?

Network admin: Eh, about 83% today. Maybe your odds will improve tomorrow.

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