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Understanding Computer Systems

Understand how components of a computer system interact with each other on this online course for teachers supported by Google.

Understanding Computer Systems
  • Duration3 weeks
  • Weekly study2 hours
  • LearnFree
  • Extra BenefitsFrom $44Find out more

Learn what really happens when you turn a computer on

Understanding how a computer works after you press the power button is key to working with technology effectively. On this course, you will explore what happens inside the machine and learn how computers turn inputs into outputs.

You will learn what the computer operating system does and why you need it. You will also compare software and hardware, understand the importance of the central processing unit (CPU), and address factors that affect computer performance.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 2 secondsWhat happens inside your computer from the moment you press the power button? What's an operating system, and what's the difference between RAM and ROM? Over three weeks, you'll learn about the function of computer hardware, including input and output devices. You'll explore different types of software and learn about some security considerations. This free course contains peer led discussions and trainer interaction. You'll also get feedback on your knowledge as you progress. You can learn wherever and whenever you want. This course covers many of the computer systems requirements from the GCSE Computing syllabus. And whether you're a teacher with students of your own or simply curious about how your computer works, this course will help you to understand the basics of computer architecture.

Skip to 0 minutes and 42 secondsSign up now at RPF.io/computersystems.

What topics will you cover?

This course explores what happens when your computer turns on. Learn about how the components of a computer work together from the moment you press the “on” button, to the software, hardware and CPU.

When would you like to start?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts. Find out more

  • Available now

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Describe the difference between hardware and software
  • Assess the importance of operating systems and virtual memory
  • Describe and compare storage, input, and output devices
  • Discuss factors affecting the performance of a system
  • Identify the functions of the hardware in a computer system
  • Explore different types of software such as application, system, and utility
  • Investigate how devices interact with the operating system and other software

Who is the course for?

This course is for GCSE computing teachers as well as teachers from other countries at an equivalent level.

Who will you learn with?

James Robinson

James Robinson

James is an experienced Computer Science teacher who runs the Raspberry Pi Foundation's teacher training Programme called Picademy. He still plays with LEGO and drinks lots of tea.

Who developed the course?

Raspberry Pi Foundation

The Raspberry Pi Foundation works to put the power of digital making into the hands of people all over the world, so they are capable of understanding and shaping our increasingly digital world.

National Centre for Computing Education

National Centre for Computing Education courses


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  • Access to this course for 5 weeks


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