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.
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.
The following skills developed during your study of this module are particularly relevant to the workplace:
- written communication skills
- working with others
- information literacy
- independent learning
- critical analysis.