Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off one whole year of Unlimited learning. Subscribe for just £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more

What you will learn in this course

What will you learn during the next 4 weeks? Let us summarise your learning journey over the next 4 weeks
A learn button on a keyboard

Welcome to this 4 week course on physical computing. This course is a hands on course, introducing you to physical computing and showing you how prototypes are built.

In week 1, you will learn what physical computing is, how its broken up into its different parts. We’ll introduce hardware, software and microcontrollers to you, giving you real world examples of each. At the end of the week you’ll get the opportunity to create your own computer program using tools and skills that we will teach you during the week. Don’t be worried if you’ve never written a computer program before, we’ll take it slow! If you have programmed before, there will be some extra challenges for you to take part in. And of course your input in the discussions is always highly valued.

In week 2, we will look at data – a core idea behind physical computing. What is data, how do we record it from the physical world into the virtual world. We’ll introduce you to the basic ideas behind computer program so you’ll be ready to do more during this week and course. We’ll show you a physical computing project made by the company ARM using a BBC micro:bit. You’ll learn the code behind the project and one more sample project and discover how they work. This week will fully prepare you for week 3.

In week 3, it’s fully hands on. We will introduce you to five physical computing challenges that you are going to complete over the next two weeks. Each challenge will introduce a new feature of physical computing and along the way you will learn new coding techniques. There will be full answers to each challenge including videos on how they work in real life. This is the part of the course we hope you really enjoy. As well the code, the hardware, the demonstration there will be a deep dive into the electronics of each project by Professor Joe Finney.

In week 4, you will finish your final challenge which combines all the skills and techniques you’ve learnt during this course. We’ll go through how to debug your projects and give real life examples of physical computing projects.

At the end of week 4, and after developing your projects for the last few weeks, we’d love to hear your opinion on physical computing – what are the ethical issues behind it, where does its future lie? But don’t skip ahead! We look forward to meeting you over the next 4 weeks and seeing how you rise to the physical computing challenge.

Over to you

What are you looking forward to in this course? Is there anything you are particularly excited about? Discuss it with your peers in the comments below.

This article is from the free online

Build a Physical Computing Prototype

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now