Uses for Packet Tracer

For Students

Welcome to the world of computer networking. Packet Tracer can be a fun, take-home, flexible piece of software to help with your CCNA studies, allowing you to experiment with network behavior, build models, and ask "what if" questions. We hope that Packet Tracer will be useful to you whatever your goals are in networking, be they further education, certification, employment, or personal fulfillment. We want to emphasize how important it is for you to also gain in-person, hands-on experience with real equipment as part of preparing to join the community of networking professionals.


For Instructors

Packet Tracer is a simulation, visualization, collaboration, and assessment tool for teaching networking. Packet Tracer allows students to construct their own model or virtual networks, obtain access to important graphical representations of those networks, animate those networks by adding their own data packets, ask questions about those networks, and finally annotate and save their creations. The term "packet tracing" describes an animated movie mode where the learner can step through simulated networking events, one at a time, to investigate the microgenesis of complex networking phenomena normally occurring at rates in the thousands and millions of events per second.

A typical instructional event might begin with an instructor posing a networking problem to the student. Students can use Packet Tracer to drag and drop networking devices (nodes) such as routers, switches, and workstations into logical topology space (the Logical Workspace). They can then specify the types of interconnections between these devices (links) and configure the devices they created. Once they have designed and configured a network of nodes and links, they can then launch sample data packets into the network, either in real time, or in a user-controlled simulation mode. The packets are displayed graphically. The student can step the packet through the network, examining the processing decisions made by networking devices as they switch and route the packet to its destination. The networks, packet scenarios, and resulting animations can be annotated, saved, and shared. Many important networking domain knowledge representations are available for the student to pursue various modes of inquiry. Of particular interest to instructors may be the Activity Wizard, which allows the authoring of answer networks to which students can compare their progress. Also of possible interest to instructors are Packet Tracer's multi-user feature, whereby different instances of Packet Tracer can be used to create a "virtual Internet" on a real network.

Packet Tracer is based on three learning principles: learning is active, learning is social, and learning is contextual. Hence, it is meant to facilitate the creation of engaging, collaborative, and localized instructional materials. Packet Tracer may be used in a variety of ways:

Four problem types are well-supported by Packet Tracer:

Packet Tracer allows activity authoring for approximately 80% of the topics and skills required for CCNA Certification, and has relevance to CCNA-Security, CCNP, IT Essentials, and general TCP/IP courses as well. Although the program includes some sample activities, we strongly encourage you to share activities that you create with others in the CCNA teaching and learning community. In addition, integrated into the Discovery and Exploration courses are hundreds of already-written Packet Tracer activities.