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How Computers Work: Demystifying Computation

Explore the fundamentals of computing: computer architecture, binary logic, data processing, circuits & more. Supported by Google

17,383 enrolled on this course

How Computers Work: Demystifying Computation

17,383 enrolled on this course

  • 4 weeks

  • 2 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Intermediate level

Find out more about how to join this course

Understand computation, the basis of every computer system

On this course, you’ll gain an understanding of how computers work at a fundamental level.

You’ll explore system architecture, along with how computers use binary and logic. Once you’ve examined the von Neumann model of computer architecture and the Fetch-Execute cycle, you’ll learn to build a range of simple circuits for maths, and then simulate various logic gates.

Ultimately you’ll complete the course with an understanding of the processes that underpin every modern computer – from supercomputers to smartphones, and everything in between.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 1 second You probably use a computer every single day. From smartphones, to laptops, games consoles, to cars. Even your fridge might have a computer inside it. Have you ever wondered how computers work? Perhaps you’re an educator teaching computer science to your own students. If so, this course can help. (SINGING) Yeah! So join us for the next four weeks as we explore the mathematics, electronics, and history of computing. Sign up now at rpf.io/howcomputerswork.

What topics will you cover?

  • How computers use binary arithmetic
  • How transistors can act as digital switches and be combined to create logic gates
  • Creating truth tables for AND, NOT and OR gates, individually or combined
  • How logic gates can be combined to produce digital circuits that can perform a calculation
  • Von Neuman Architecture and the Fetch-Execute cycle

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

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

  • Explain how transistors can act as digital switches and be combined to create logic gates
  • Produce truth tables for AND, NOT and OR gates, individually or combined
  • Explain how computers use binary arithmetic
  • Describe how logic gates can be combined to produce digital circuits that can perform a calculation
  • Describe Von Neuman Architecture and the Fetch-Execute cycle

Who is the course for?

This course would suit teachers of KS3 and GCSE Computer Science - plus educators from other countries that teach at an equivalent level.

What do people say about this course?

It really helped join some parts of my learning together

"I enjoyed the course, even the really challenging part about logic gates in the middle. I'm undertaking the CAS for teachers and this really helped join some parts of my learning together. "

Who will you learn with?

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

This course is part of the National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE). Funded by the Department for Education and partners, we aim to change the way computing is taught in schools across England, and enable more young people to benefit from studying this important subject.

If you are a teacher in England you can get free upgraded access to this course, and use it towards NCCE certification. To do this, you must join the course through the Teach Computing website

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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Subscribe & save

$27.99 /month

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Buy this course

$44/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Limited access

Free

Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 1 Jan 2023

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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