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Communication and information technologies

It’s inconceivable to think of our world without communication and information systems. They’ve influence in almost every aspect of our lives and develop at a pace that’s difficult to keep abreast of. This module will teach you to understand key technologies that underpin these systems; and introduce you to a range of issues that arise from their deployment. You’ll develop your skills in the management and use of communication and information technologies; your ability to communicate ideas and information about them; and your ability to keep updated with new technological developments.

What you will study

The module consists of three blocks – each covering a key area in communication and information technologies – and an individual project:

Block 1: Enquiring and communicating
The first block covers technologies that enable wireless and mobile communications such as Wi-Fi, mobile cellular networks and for the Internet of Things. You’ll develop study skills such as finding information online and reading, evaluating and writing technological materials. You’ll use and further develop these study skills in Blocks 2 and 3. You’ll also learn some practical skills through using network simulation software.

Block 2: Interacting and collaborating
This block covers principles and technologies for collaborative work and interaction design. You’ll work in a group on a collaborative project: using the collaboration and interaction design principles studied in this block, you’ll design and build a web site. Collaborative work is the key study skill you’ll develop in this block.

Block 3: Protecting and prying
Block 3 covers technologies for computer security and discusses privacy and ethical issues around the use of these security technologies. You’ll further develop your writing skill, especially for writing reports. You’ll also learn practical skills through activities on computer security.

Individual project
This project will form part of your final assessment. Using the knowledge and skills you’ll develop in Blocks 1–3, you’ll create a small web site explaining new developments in an area of communication and information technologies. This will include conducting a small literature survey to keep yourself updated with developments in the given topic.

You’ll develop digital and information literacy skills – which are very important for your study – throughout the module. You’ll develop academic and technical writing skills progressively from Block 1 to Block 3. You’ll also develop some practical skills in using specialist software, which can improve your employability.

You will learn

This module will:

  • increase your knowledge of the basic principles of communication and information systems and technologies, and the issues relating to their use
  • develop your ability to apply your understanding of communication and information technologies to learn about new or unfamiliar systems and technologies
  • develop a variety of skills appropriate to a practitioner in information and communication technologies
  • teach you work as a group, where the collaboration is via communication technologies.

Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements to study this module.

However, as this is an OU level 2 module you’ll need a good knowledge of the subject area obtained through any of the following:

  • OU level 1 study
  • equivalent work at another university
  • experience as an IT professional

You should have some basic understanding of data communication and information technologies such as how you can digitally represent data, manipulate it for security purposes, and transmit it over different media. You should also have numeracy skills, equivalent to that gained through studying an OU level 1 mathematics module; and have a standard of academic English appropriate for this level of study.

If you’re not sure you’re ready, complete the Are you ready for quiz to test whether you have the required literacy and numeracy skills to study this module. There are also links to resources for literacy and numeracy skills development. You can also talk to an adviser.

Preparatory work

Introduction to computing and information technology 1 (TM111) and Introduction to computing and information technology 2 (TM112) would be ideal preparation for this module.

If you’re returning to study, you might find it helpful to look at our Skills for OU Study website and to read The Good Study Guide by Northedge, (The Open University, 2005).

What's included

Each block is supported by a printed book. Your study will be guided by a module website, which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • course-specific module materials
  • software guides and resources
  • interactive activities
  • audio and video content
  • assessment details and submission section
  • online tutorial access
  • access to student and tutor group forums.

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 computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

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 either an up-to-date version of Windows or macOS.

The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

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

Throughout your module studies, you’ll get help and support from your assigned module tutor. They’ll help you by:

  • Marking your assignments (TMAs) and providing detailed feedback for you to improve.
  • Guiding you to additional learning resources.
  • Providing individual guidance, whether that’s for general study skills or specific module content.
  • Facilitating online discussions between your fellow students, in the dedicated module and tutor group forums.

Module tutors also run online tutorials throughout the module. Where possible, recordings of online tutorials will be made available to students. While these tutorials won’t be compulsory for you to complete the module, you’re strongly encouraged to take part. If you want to participate, you’ll likely need a headset with a microphone.

Assessment

You can find the assessment details for this module 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 TM255 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

Communication and information technologies (TM255) starts once a year in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2020.

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

Course work includes:

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