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Computing skills

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
  • 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.
Mother and daughter working on a computer

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 input/output devices).
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree
I can open a word processing program (like Microsoft Word for windows) and use it to create and save documents.
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree
I can re-open documents and other files that I use or create, such as a letter or a spreadsheet.
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree
I can upload or download files between a computer and the internet.
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree
I can create and organise folders on a computer.
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree
I can connect a computer to the internet, using a browser to find and explore websites.
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree
I can use email and attach documents to emails.
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree
I can engage in simple activities like online discussion forums.
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree
I can play CDs and DVDs on a computer.
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree
I have a basic understanding of computer security issues e.g. using a virus checker.
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree


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.

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