Technologies in practice
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 Linux. Studying these topics will enable you to develop essential skills for future employment in the computing and IT industry. You will be applying what you learn by developing a portfolio to demonstrate your skills and understanding in these areas. 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, each based upon a key area in computing and IT, and the development of a portfolio which forms part of your final assessment.
You will 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 much of the study material is delivered online. You will therefore be working at your computer for significant periods of time.
Block 1 – Robotics and the meaning of life
This first block will introduce 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 will learn how robots work and how to program and control robots using the specially written software we provide. You will 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.
Block 2 – Introduction to computer networking
Networking computers 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. A third party book will be used to introduce these concepts and your learning will be supported through computer-based practical exercises.
Block 3 – Introduction to Linux
Finally, this block introduces you to one of the most extensively used operating systems worldwide. You will examine the many similarities that exist between Linux and other popular operating systems and also the diverse technology available in the Linux community. You will be provided with tools to use free versions of Linux on your computer to carry out practical activities.
As you progress through the module, you will develop a portfolio of your work for the various practical activities which relate to each block. This will help demonstrate your skills and understanding in the areas you have studied. The portfolio will also be a significant component of the end-of-module assessment. Working on the portfolio 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 the Linux operating system
- 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.
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, such as Introduction to computing and information technology 1 (TM111). Therefore, if you intend to study both TM111 and TM129, we strongly recommend you study TM111 first.
You will 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.
You will need to ensure you have a broadband account with an internet service provider (ISP) before the module begins.
Study texts, some of which will be online, website, specialised software, a DVD and online discussion forums.
A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities.
Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.
A desktop or laptop computer with one of the following:
- Windows 10 or higher
- Mac OS 10.10 or higher
- a modern Linux version
You’ll also need a minimum of 2GB RAM (4GB recommended) and 40GB free hard disk space.
The screen of the device must have a resolution of 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.