Computing KS2: Computer networks

This short film explains computer networks. It looks at different types of computer network and the elements that make up a basic network including clients, servers, switches and hubs.

The film uses a restaurant analogy to further explore the role of clients and servers, and how a photo travels around a network using packet technology.

The film then looks at how networks are combined to form the internet, using agreed rules or protocols.

It explores the physical structures that make up the internet including underground cables, overhead wires, undersea cables and WiFi connections.

Finally it looks at the journey of the film we are watching itself from the server it is stored on to the viewer’s computer screen, via the internet.

This short film is from the BBC Teach series, Cracking Computing.

Teacher Notes

A good place to start when learning about computer networks is to explore the school's network, following trunking and cables from wall sockets around the school to where they connect to the router and / or switch, and where the internet cables come in to the school via junction boxes and telephone sockets, etc.

Pupils could use paper and pencil or software to create diagrams showing how the different elements are connected.

Another good way to explore networks is through role play, where pupils take on the roles of the different network elements. Packets of information (paper messages) can be passed around the network of children (connected by string, or by holding hands, etc.), torn up and reassembled, and different network arrangements can be tested for speed and efficiency.

Other subjects

Design & technology and history: The invention and development of the internet is an important technological milestone in human history and is a good topic for research and presentation.
Geography: The location and distribution of the undersea cable network that connects the internet across the world is a great way to consolidate knowledge of different continents and oceans.

Curriculum Notes

This short film is suitable for teaching:

  • KS2 computing curriculum in England
  • Technologies curriculum area at 2nd Level in Scotland
  • KS2 digital competence framework in Wales
  • KS2 using ICT cross-curricular skill in Northern Ireland

More from Cracking Computing

Creating with computing
Input and output
Logical reasoning
Search technologies
Working with data