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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.

7,362 enrolled on this course

Understanding Computer Systems
The CPD Certification Service

This course has been certified by the CPD Certification Service as conforming to continuing professional development principles. Find 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 seconds What 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 seconds Sign up now at RPF.io/computersystems.


  • Week 1

    Booting Up

    • Welcome to the course

      Learn more about what you'll be learning over the course, and meet our educators and the other participants who will accompany you.

    • What happens when you turn on your computer?

      Learn about how the components of a computer work together from the moment you press the “on” button.

    • Hardware, software and systems

      Explore different types of hardware and software, and consider how they may or may not be appropriate for different types of system.

    • End of Week 1

      Congratulations! You have successfully completed the first week of the course!

  • Week 2

    Inputs & Outputs

    • Welcome to Week 2

      Welcome to Week 2 of the course!

    • Input and Output

      Explore the history and function of input and output devices

    • Computers in our Daily Lives

      Learn about sensors and storage devices

    • End of Week 2

      Congratulations on completing Week 2 of the course!

  • Week 3

    The Operating System

    • Welcome to Week 3

      Welcome to the final week of the course!

    • What is an Operating System?

      Learn about the history and function of the Operating System

    • Peer Review

      Test your understanding by creating a learning resource, and reviewing those created by your peers.

    • End of the course

      Congratulations on completing the course!

Who is this accredited by?

The CPD Certification Service
The CPD Certification Service:

The CPD Certification Service was established in 1996 and is the leading independent CPD accreditation institution operating across industry sectors to complement the CPD policies of professional and academic bodies.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

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 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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