Online course in Teaching

How Computers Work: Demystifying Computation

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

  • Duration 4 weeks
  • Weekly study 2 hours
  • Learn Free
  • Extra benefits From $44 Find out more

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 secondYou 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?

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
    This course started 7 Oct 2019

What will you achieve?

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

  • Explore 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
  • Explore how computers use binary arithmetic
  • Explore how logic gates can be combined to produce digital circuits that can perform a calculation
  • Investigate 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.

Who developed the course?

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 courses

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  • The flexibility to complete your choice of short courses in your own time within the year
Find out more about upgrades or Unlimited.
Available until 31 October 2019. T&Cs apply.