Learn How the Internet Works

TUM offers new MOOC "iLabX – The Internet Masterclass"

Various multi-media elements are used for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Image: Andreas Heddergott

Most people use the Internet every day. But not many are familiar with the technology that makes it work. A new online course offered by the Technical University of Munich (TUM) explains the workings of the Internet and the driving forces behind the digital transformation. The course is free of charge and open to everyone, regardless of prior knowledge.

How do computers communicate? And how are they protected against attacks from the Internet? Nowadays it is not only IT professionals who are interested in questions like these. With the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) “iLabX – The Internet Masterclass”, participants with or without special background knowledge can acquire a basic knowledge of the Internet through videos, easy-to-read texts, and interactive quizzes.

Experiments in the virtual Internet lab

“What makes iLabX special is that we not only teach the theory of Internet technology. In the ‘vLab’ virtual laboratory, participants can also try out what they have just learned: They build the Internet step by step on their own computers while learning about the functionality of the programs that drive the global Internet,” says Marc-Oliver Pahl, who developed the MOOC with his team at the TUM Chair of Network Architectures and Services.

From simple cable connections to the complex architecture of the Internet

The course has six parts, each of which takes four to six hours to explore. In the modules, Pahl and his team explain some of the basics of the Internet – for example, how two directly connected computers communicate, and how communication works between computers over much greater distances. Participants learn how data packages find their way through the worldwide Internet with all of its branches and nodes. The MOOC also looks at the “telephone book” of the Internet: the Domain Name System. The course provides insights into the function of web servers, which many people access daily via their browsers. In addition, learners who complete the iLabX course will know how their own computers are protected by firewalls against attacks from the Internet.

A course for all skill levels

Those with prior knowledge of the course topics are also welcome to sign up for iLabX. They will simply work through the material at a faster pace than those seeing it for the first time. The new MOOC course will benefit current and prospective students, too: It will help them to prepare for lectures on networks and distributed systems. Learners who are verified on the MOOC platform and successfully complete the course, will receive a certificate.

Trailer for “iLabX – The Internet Masterclass”.