You are viewing information for England.  Change country.

Communication and information technologies

Digital communication and information technologies have become fundamental to the operation of modern societies. New products and services are rapidly transforming our lives, both at work and at play. This module helps you to learn about these new developments, and equips you with the understanding and skills to continue learning about them in the future. You will study the core principles on which the new technologies are built and, through a range of online and offline activities, investigate new topics and technologies. After studying the module you’ll be in a better position to appreciate the potential of the new technologies.

Modules count towards OU qualifications

OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate-level module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

Browse qualifications in related subjects


Module code
Study level
2 8 5
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
See Am I ready?

Student Reviews

First the good news this is an excellent highly enjoyable course. I thought the tutor was excellent, it was a...
Read more

I found this course to be very interesting, however you do need to be equipped with maths as there is...
Read more

Request your prospectus

Explore our subjects and courses

Request your copy now

What you will study

The culmination of your study is a short project in which you will investigate an unfamiliar topic in communication and information technologies, and write a report that communicates your resulting knowledge to others. The rest of the module will give you the understanding and skills you need for this project, through written texts (including third party material), activities such as creating your own graphical representations and written documents, various software tools and simulations, collaboration with others, and independent research.

The module is structured into five themed blocks, each of which explores technology topics relevant to its theme.

Block 1: Storing and sharing

Every time we use computers or other digital devices we are either accessing stored data (locally or over a network), creating data that has to be stored (even if only temporarily), or sharing data with others. We therefore need ways of coding the data, devices to store it, and skills to manage and retrieve it efficiently. Sharing data at a distance also needs computer networks, and the protocols that allow them to operate together. This block introduces you to the technologies of data storage and to both wired and wireless computer networks. It will help you to develop your skills in working with these technologies efficiently and safely, finding and evaluating online information, and written communication.

Block 2: Exploring and enquiring

Mobile phone technologies have freed us from the tethers of wired networks and created new opportunities. They enable us to do such things as exploring our environment (for example, using GPS navigation) or simply enquiring about the time of a train or where to eat locally. How is it possible to do this? How can a mobile phone be used (almost) anywhere, and why are there limitations? How can the Web be accessed while on the move? How can your location be pinpointed to a few metres? What might the future hold for mobile communications? This block addresses these questions and helps you to develop your skills in getting information from technological documents. It also continues the development of your written communication skills through writing a short report.

Block 3: Creating and collaborating

The theme of this block is online collaboration. The block takes a broad, people-focused view of communication technology and helps you to understand the range of issues raised in online collaborative environments. You will learn about communication tools and technologies, including recent ‘Web 2.0’ developments such as wikis and social networking sites. You will develop your practical skills for online collaboration through small-group work with fellow students to create a socially focused website. This group work is assessed and takes place over a six-week period from late December to early February. There is a two-week study break over the Christmas period but otherwise you will need regular and frequent access to a networked computer during this time. This block also provides further opportunities for you to develop your information searching and writing skills.

Block 4: Protecting and prying

Being a member of a digital society means that, among other things, we create a trail of digital data. This data often reveals who we are and what we do. Government agencies collect and store information on their citizens from birth to death; commercial organisations create digital profiles of their customers; monitoring and surveillance cameras pervade public spaces. Such data-gathering can help to make life easier or safer for us, but can be seen as an intrusion into our private lives. This block explores the technologies of biometric identification and discusses the issues of personal data collection, mass surveillance and monitoring. It also shows how individuals can safeguard their digital identities and their computers. For the major part of your assessment, you will write a report related to a topic from the block. This will help you to prepare for the end-of-module assessment.

Block 5: Entertaining and explaining

Digital technologies provide us with many ways of creating, presenting and sharing information through text, images, audio and video. This block is designed to develop your use of computer applications in a creative way. It focuses on the production of a short video clip using animated still images with embedded audio and screen captions. During your work you will develop an understanding of audio and picture encoding and editing. The early development work is supported with some prepared video clips, leading finally to producing your own video clip. This will form part of your assignment for this block. This block develops your skills in using a number of different software applications to manipulate and present information.

If you would like to know more about this module see our taster material which includes extracts of what you will study and more details about the assessment.

Communication and information technologies is one of the modules listed as a possible prerequisite for the Accreditation of Certificated Practitioners 2 (TM227).

You will learn

This module will help you to:

  • understand the basic principles of communication and information systems and technologies, including the way digital data is stored, manipulated and transmitted
  • understand key concepts, issues and technologies associated with online communication and collaboration
  • engage in informed discussion on the issues relating to the use of communication and information technologies
  • be aware of major trends in communication and information technologies
  • apply your understanding of communication and information technologies to learn about new or unfamiliar communication and information systems and technologies
  • communicate information effectively through a variety of different media and for different audiences
  • critically analyse documents, give and receive feedback, and improve your own work
  • work as part of a group where the collaboration is via communication technologies
  • use software tools to model and analyse systems, and to communicate information
  • perform calculations, use simple equations and work with graphs and tables.

Vocational relevance

The following skills developed during your study of this module are particularly relevant to the workplace:

  • written communication skills
  • working with others
  • information literacy
  • numeracy
  • independent learning
  • critical analysis.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. We may also be able to offer group tutorials or day schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the module. 

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper. The interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs) must be submitted electronically.

The end-of-module assessment (EMA) is an individual project that takes the place of an examination and must be submitted online.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in October 2015. We expect it to be available once a year.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

Course work includes:

5 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
4 Interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.


This is an OU level 2 module and you need to have a good knowledge of the subject area, obtained either through OU level 1 study, or by doing equivalent work at another university.

You should be experienced in using a computer for working with documents, spreadsheets and accessing the internet, and you should be able to install new software on your computer. You also need basic mathematical skills so that you can work with algebraic equations and carry out numerical calculations, though the module does provide a numeracy book should you need to brush up on these skills. You should be able to write clearly in English using correct grammar, spelling and punctuation.

This assumes that you are already familiar with communication and computer technology at a level equivalent to successful study of My digital life (TU100).

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

Preparatory work

If you are newly returned to study you may find it helpful to look at the Study strategies section of our Skills for OU Study website and to read a suitable book such as The Sciences Good Study Guide by Northedge, Thomas, Lane and Peasgood (The Open University, 1997).


Start End England fee Register
03 Oct 2015 Jun 2016 £2700.00

Registration closes 10/09/15 (places subject to availability)


You may need to apply for some payment or funding options earlier. Please check the Fees and Funding information or contact us for information.

This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2017.

Additional Costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

If you're on a low income you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after you register.

Ways to pay for this module

Open University Student Budget Account

The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

  • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
  • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

Employer sponsorship

Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU qualifications are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to achieve one. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the qualification you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

  • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
  • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your modules.  

Credit/debit card

You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

We accept American Express, Maestro (UK only), Mastercard, Visa/Delta and Visa Electron. 

Mixed payments

We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).

For more information about combining payment options, speak to an adviser or book a call back at a time that is convenient to you.

Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2016. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

This information was provided on 29/07/2015.

What's included

Module books, other printed materials, DVD, online forums, wiki and website.

Note that some assessment material may only be provided in electronic format online or via the website.

You will need

You will need a computer microphone and the ability to play DVDs. Though it is possible to study this module using a dial-up internet connection, broadband is highly recommended.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this module as the study materials and activities are accessible via a web browser. Any other computer-based activities you will need to carry out, such as word processing, using spreadsheets, taking part in online forums, and submitting files to the university for assessment, are specified in the module materials. If any additional software is needed for these tasks it will either be provided or is freely available. For this module you will also need to install software provided by the OU on a disk or USB stick.

A Windows desktop or laptop computer running Windows 7 or later operating system is suitable for this module. You will be required to install Microsoft Windows specific software.

A netbook, tablet, smartphone or Linux computer that supports one of the browsers listed below may be suitable. The screen size should be at least 1024 (H) x 768 (W) pixels. If you intend to use one of these devices please ensure you have access to a suitable desktop or laptop computer in case you are unable to carry out all the module activities on your mobile device.

We recommend a minimum 1 Mbps internet connection and any of the following browsers:

  • Internet Explorer 9 and above
  • Apple Safari 7 and above
  • Google Chrome 31 and above
  • Mozilla Firefox 31 and above.

Note: using the latest version for your browser will maximise security when accessing the internet. Using company or library computers may prevent you accessing some internet materials or installing additional software.

See our Skills for OU study website for further information about computing skills for study and educational deals for buying Microsoft Office software.

If you have a disability

You will need to spend considerable amounts of time using a personal computer and the internet. Students with hearing or sight impairments may find some of the practical-based computer work challenging, or may need additional study support, as the activities involve accessing on screen text, viewing and creating colour images, and creating audio and video material. If you use specialist hardware or software to assist you in operating a computer and have concerns about accessing or creating these types of materials you are advised to contact us about support which can be given to meet your needs.

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and some mathematical and scientific materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. Other alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future.  

Further information on the accessibility of this module is available from the Guide to accessibility for students.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Find out more about our services for disabled students.