Interactive tools for learning sensor network basics

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paper


Wireless sensor networks consist of autonomous intelligent sensor nodes, usually powered by battery, that can measure certain characteristics of their environment, such as temperature, pressure, moisture, acceleration, etc. These sensor nodes communicate by radio with their neighbors to forward data to a central collection points from where it is sent to some analysis center via the Internet. The use of batteries and radio communications minimizes the cost of such a measurement system. Wireless sensor networks have a broad range of applications: climate monitoring, flood prevention, seismic monitoring, early detection of bush fires, etc. A major concern is the lifetime of batteries. As most of the energy is used for radio transmission, many research efforts have focused on the development of communication protocols that minimize power.
Many masters students are interested in wireless sensor networks as a research topic for their thesis, but don't know enough about it to make a rational choice. This led the authors to start implementing a user friendly multi-media e-learning course, explaining the essential aspects of sensor networks and their routing protocols.
It has been observed that students, who have the opportunity to experiment freely with systems they need to understand, learn faster and more in depth than those who do not have such opportunities. For that reason, a very simple interactive simulator that shows the principles of routing has been included in the e-learning course. It does not replace in any sense the more sophisticated simulation environments that are available to researchers. On the contrary, it will be used to clarify basics of routing and to trace messages through real networks before confronting the students with the fully fledged simulation packages.
The didactic value of the tool for helping students gaining insight in concepts underlying routing will be evaluated in four engineering institutes in three continents.
In this paper the decision to build the didactic tool is motivated and the design issues are discussed, together with planned extensions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Engineering and technology
PublisherMacMillan UGANDA
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)978-9970-21-400-6
Publication statusPublished - 2011
EventUnknown -
Duration: 1 Jan 2011 → …

Publication series

NameProceedings of the second international conference on advances in engineering and technology


Period1/01/11 → …

Bibliographical note

Jackson A.Mwakali, Henry M.Alinaitwe


  • Didactic tools
  • Routing Protocols
  • Simulation
  • Wireless Sensor Networks


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