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Technologies in practice

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This module provides an opportunity to sample some of the key areas in computing and information technology. You will be introduced to three topics as tasters for your future studies and career: robotics, networking, and operating systems. Studying these topics will enable you to develop essential skills for future employment in the computing and IT industry and better understand the different routes through our curriculum. By studying this OU level 1 module you can begin to explore where your future career ambitions or interests might lie.

What you will study

The module is structured into three study blocks – robotics, networking and operating systems.

You’ll study both OU materials and third-party materials that support your learning in the three key topics. The module is practical and activity-based, and the study material is delivered online. You’ll therefore be working at your computer for significant periods of time.

Networking essentials
This block provides a sound grounding in the basic principles of computer networks and the challenges in setting these up and maintaining them. Topics covered include protocol models and layering; IP addressing; basic network design and network devices. You’ll study online material in the Cisco Networking Academy and carry out practical activities using a network simulator.

Robotics and AI
This block introduces you to robotics and the design of intelligent machines. Robots are no longer the stuff of fiction; they are found in factories, on the battlefield and in our homes. You’ll learn how robots work and how to program and control robots using simulator software. You'll also examine the relationships between humans and robots, the impact robots will have on our lives, and the ethical issues surrounding the use of robots.

Operating systems
The final block introduces operating systems – the fundamental software that turns hardware into useful and useable computing systems. You’ll learn how an operating system manages the computer’s processor, memory and storage so that more than one program can run at once. You’ll be introduced to Linux, a widely used operating system that runs on small handheld devices, desktops and supercomputers. You’ll carry out practical activities by running Linux in a virtual machine on your own computer.

As you progress through the module, you’ll work through the various practical activities which relate to each block. This will help demonstrate your skills and understanding in the areas you have studied. This will also be a significant component of the end-of-module assessment. Working on these practical activities will help you to think about your future career interests and will inform decisions you need to make on your future areas of study.

You will learn

This module will enable you to:

  • increase your knowledge of robotics, computer networks and operating systems
  • develop a variety of skills appropriate to a career in the computing and IT industry
  • demonstrate your understanding of technical subjects and your technical skills through the development of a portfolio.

Entry requirements

This is an OU level 1 module providing you with the core subject knowledge and study skills needed for both higher education and distance learning and to help you progress to modules at OU level 2.

Technologies in practice (TM129) builds on the skills developed in key introductory modules, particularly Introduction to computing and information technology 1 (TM111). Therefore, if you intend to study both TM111 and TM129, you should study TM111 first.

You'll need to be able to carry out all the following activities on your computer: writing with a word-processor; saving and locating files; installing software; following basic instructions that enable you to explore your computer and undertake basic computing tasks; and accessing a website. You should also be able to read and understand written English and write clearly in English.

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

What's included

You’ll have access to a module website, which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • course-specific module materials
  • audio and video content
  • assignment details and submission section
  • online tutorial access.

Computing requirements

A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most online study.

Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For practical activities, you will need to be able to download, install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

A desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows, macOS or Linux.

You’ll also need a minimum of 2GB RAM (4GB recommended), 40GB free hard disk space and a display with at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

You could have difficulties in running the required software if your machine doesn’t have a 64-bit processor, or if your processor was made before 2011. You’ll need to enable virtualisation extensions through your BIOS or UEFI – we’ll provide instructions how to do this.

To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and who will mark and provide feedback on your written work. Your tutor is the first point of contact for any queries on the module and you can ask them for advice and guidance.

We provide a programme of tutorial events during the module, some of which are face-to-face and others online. While you’re not obliged to attend all of these tutorial events, you are strongly encouraged to take part in as many as you can. Face-to-face tutorials will be held in a range of locations though we cannot guarantee availability close to where you live. Online alternatives are also provided, and recordings will typically be made available to students.


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

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying TM129 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Technologies in practice (TM129) starts twice a year – in February and October (places are limited and in high demand, so enrol early).

This page describes the module that will start in February 2021.

We expect it to start for the last time in October 2023.

Course work includes:

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

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