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An introduction to computers and computer systems
An introduction to computers and computer systems

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There is more to computers and processors than simply PCs. In fact computers are ubiquitous in everyday life. This free course, An introduction to computers and computer systems, challenges how we view computers through the examples of processors in kitchen scales and digital cameras, as well as examining the work of art that, at heart, is a computer. You will also explore how computers are connected together to achieve even more than when working alone.

This course lasts 16 hours and is comprised of eight sessions, which can be studied at your own pace. The eight sessions are linked to ensure a logical flow through the course. They are:

  1. Computers and processors
  2. The components of a computer
  3. Some facts about processors
  4. Representing data and instructions inside a computer
  5. Examples of computers
  6. Computer programs
  7. Networks of computers
  8. A look to the future

Each session should take you around 2 hours. There are a number of activities throughout the course where you are asked to note down your response. A text box is provided for you to do this, however if you would prefer to record your answers in another way that is fine. Your answers won’t be visible to anyone else.

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • recognise the fundamental hardware components that make up a computer’s hardware and the role of each of these components
  • describe the difference between an operating system and an application program, and what each is used for in a computer
  • understand something of the work involved in designing an application program
  • appreciate some of the core networking technologies used to connect computers together
  • reflect on some of the future directions for computers and computer systems.

Moving around the course

In the ‘Summary’ at the end of each session, you will find a link to the next session. If at any time you want to return to the start of the course, click on ‘Full course description’. From here you can navigate to any part of the course.

It’s also good practice, if you access a link from within a course page, to open it in a new window or tab. That way you can easily return to where you’ve come from without having to use the back button on your browser.

You can now go to Session 1 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .