You will use a computer throughout your Open University studies, so you'll need a laptop or PC with reliable internet access. You can use it to:
- access course materials and the course website
- produce coursework and make notes
- store and organise documents
- search for information and access the vast OU library
- write assignments and send them to your tutor
- stay in touch with your tutor and other OU staff
- share ideas with fellow students on our lively student forums.
Essential computer skills
You don't need to be an IT genius to study with us – and you'll develop your computer skills as you study. But to make the best possible start on your course, you should be able to write and edit documents and spreadsheets, send and receive email, find your way around online, download files and use online forums. You should also be aware of the essentials of computer security to keep your data and personal information safe.
If you are an IT genius there's lots of scope for you to tap into exciting new technology to enhance your learning – some activities can be studied on a smartphone or tablet.
I can start up and shut down a computer, use a mouse, keyboard (or other equivalent
Neither agree nor disagree
You'll need to develop your computing skills
You'll probably need to improve your computing skills before you start studying for a qualification. You could do this by going to a local college or adult education class. Try Learn Direct, or ask at your local library for a list of local courses. When you start a qualification with the OU, Stage 1 modules will help you develop your IT skills so that you're ready to study at degree level. For example, you'll start using forums, or submitting work online for assessment.
You'd benefit from improving your computing skills
Your computing skills are probably good enough to start studying for a basic qualification with the OU. At Stage 1 of a qualification you'll need basic computing skills, and you're ready to study at degree level. For example, you'll start using forums, or submitting work online for assessment. If you live in the UK and you prefer to be more confident, you could think about taking one of our Access modules. They're designed to introduce you to studying at university level and get you ready to study at Stage 1 of a qualification.
You're ready to study
You're confident enough in your computing skills to commit to an OU qualification, and begin studying a Stage 1 module. At Stage 1 during your first module, you'll be introduced gradually to skills like taking part in online forums, or submitting work online for assessment.
Support for computing
Once you've registered with us, you'll have access to technical information and advice from a dedicated computing helpdesk, and a wide range of online resources to help with topics such as:
- choosing a computer that's right for you
- financial support to help you buy a computer if you’re on a low income
- special apps and software available to OU students
- using your computer to make sound recordings.