A multi-platform assessment automation application for practical outcomes in computer network systems

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Published conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


    In the subject of computer network systems, students must understand the concepts and be confident in configuring a range of network devices and operating systems. Challenges are faced in assessing practical outcomes in a laboratory environment involving multivariate devices and operating systems that involve real equipment or simulation and real or virtualized environments. Prior to the start of a practical laboratory exercise the working environment must be pre-configured. During the exercise it would be beneficial to monitor the progress of students and once an exercise is completed the results extracted to enable assessment of the outcomes. Using manual methods this process can be time consuming and it would therefore be useful to implement some form of automation. To facilitate this, a new application was developed that automates the configuration management and assessment processes within a computer networking laboratory. The new application has been successfully tested within vendor specific network simulation software that demonstrates that it is able to accurately assess practical outcomes from an exercise. Nevertheless it was also intended to be used with real systems involving various platforms or equipment from different vendors. The application was further developed to accommodate these requirements. To test the capabilities of the application in this role an exercise was designed that could be implemented on at least three different operating systems, based on real hosts or virtual machines, that involve varying configuration requirements. The Domain Name System (DNS) was chosen as the basis of the exercise as it can be implemented according to open standards on various platforms. In this context it was conducted on the Microsoft Windows platform and two Linux distributions. The new features of the application and the characteristics of the exercise used to test them will be discussed. Analysis of the results demonstrate that the new application was able to determine whether the target service had been correctly configured on all three operating systems. Recommendations will suggest that further work should involve running the application to assess the outcomes of a practical exercise involving a group of students.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publication13th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
    Subtitle of host publicationEDULEARN21 Proceedings
    Publication statusPublished - 2021


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