PT Anywhere used for remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic

PT Anywhere, led by Alexander Mikroyannidis (The Open University, UK), has played a vital role in remote teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Several universities from across the world have incorporated PT Anywhere in their curricula and have been using it for remote laboratory sessions with their students. PT Anywhere is also featured in the UK Government’s Digital Skills Toolkit, which is preparing the UK for the post-COVID economy by offering essential digital skills to job seekers.

PT Anywhere is a novel educational tool for teaching computer networking skills by performing network simulations on any device. PT Anywhere has been jointly developed by the Open University and Cisco and is based on Cisco’s renowned Packet Tracer network simulator.

The results of using PT Anywhere in a higher education context during the COVID-19 pandemic have been recently published in the proceedings of the International Conference on Interactive Collaborative Learning (ICL2021). This study, conducted in the Department of Informatics at the University of Piraeus in Greece, has investigated the pedagogical effectiveness of PT Anywhere, as applied in the teaching of computer networking courses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The results of this study verify that the use of remote online learning environments positively improves learning outcomes. More specifically, the study highlights the pedagogical effectiveness of PT Anywhere in positively activating students in distance learning and teaching situations. In the classrooms that PT Anywhere was used, a high degree of participation was recorded, as well as a high degree of satisfaction of students from their involvement with this software. Some of the benefits of using PT Anywhere in the context of this study have been the following:
•    Helping students understand the basic concepts of computer network design
•    Helping students design composite networking scenarios precisely
•    Helping students create multiple representations of computer network topologies
•    Motivating students to further explore computer network design