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Technologies in practice

Qualification dates
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This module provides an opportunity to sample some key computing and information technology areas. It introduces three topics as tasters for your future studies and career: networking, operating systems and security, and robotics. 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. You can also begin to explore where your future career ambitions or interests might lie.

What you will study

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

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 network simulator software.

Operating systems and security
This 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 learn about operating system security and how to maintain a secure system. You’ll also carry out practical activities by running the Linux operating system along with 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.

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 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 computer networks, operating systems and security, and robotics
  • 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, we strongly recommend you study TM111 first.

You will need to be able to do the following on your computer:

  • use word-processing software
  • save and locate files
  • install software
  • follow basic instructions to explore your computer and complete basic computing tasks
  • access websites.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser. You can also try the Are you ready for TM129 quiz.

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

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11), or macOS Ventura or higher.

Additional requirements for this module:

  • 4GB RAM (8GB recommended)
  • 40GB free disk space
  • we recommend the Chrome browser for some practical activities.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile App will operate on all current, supported, versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook, however, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop as described above.

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.


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

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 January/February and October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2024 and February 2025.

We expect it to start for the last time in February 2026.

Course work includes:

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment

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