Unit 2: Technology Systems

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Technology systems are involved in many of the objects we use every day, from a laptop computer and routers relaying internet traffic, to logging in to a social networking site. This unit provides a first look at how the main building blocks of technology systems work.

Resource summary

Unit 2: Technology Systems
1 Learning aim A: understand how the components of technology systems work together
1.1 Computer and technology systems
1.1.1 a computer is a machine that processes digital data
1.1.2 a technology system is the complete collection of components
1.2 Applications and issues of technology systems
1.2.1 application of technology systems used in different sectors, including construction, finance, health, manufacturing (including CAD/CAM/use of robots) and retail
1.2.2 issues involved in the use of technology systems, including health and safety, security measures (passwords, authentication, levels of access), environmental, sustainability, privacy and copyright
1.2.3 reasons why future development of a technology system is important to organisations, including competitive advantage, reduced costs and improved performance.
1.3 Computer hardware devices
1.3.1 devices (PC, server, laptop, tablet, games console and other programmable digital devices)
1.3.2 input – keyboard, mouse, sensors, touch screen, microphone, scanner, digital camera
1.3.3 output – printers (inkjet, laser, impact), speakers, force feedback devices, actuators, screens, projectors, robot arms, other control devices
1.3.4 storage devices – solid state, optical media, magnetic media
1.3.5 that modern technology devices are often multifunctional (have both input and output functionality)
1.3.6 how hardware components and software can be combined to form an automated technology system (self-service checkout, production line)
1.3.7 the uses of devices that capture data for automated systems (barcode readers, magnetic strip readers, optical character readers (OCR), optical mark readers (OMR) and radio frequency identification systems (RFID))
1.3.8 suitable devices to suit the requirements for a specific user and purpose, and justify their use.
1.4 Computer networking
1.4.1 the purpose of different types of network (local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), personal area network (PAN), mobile broadband)
1.4.2 the common uses of network systems (resource sharing, data sharing, entertainment, communication)
1.4.3 the benefits of computer networking
1.4.4 the need to synchronise data held on devices forming a PAN
1.5 Data transfer
1.5.1 physical methods of transferring data between devices using wireless or cabled topology to meet the requirements for a specific user and purpose
1.5.2 wireless methods of transfer including the use of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies
1.5.3 cabled methods for transfer of data between devices, including the use of optical fibre, unshielded twisted pair (UTP) and coaxial cables
1.5.4 the benefits and drawbacks of these physical methods.
2 Learning aim: B understand how data flows between internal components of a computer and is processed to provide information
2.1 Internal components of a computer
2.1.1 the motherboard – printed circuit board (PCB) holding main components of the system
2.1.2 central processing unit (CPU) – arithmetic and logic unit (ALU), control unit, registers
2.1.3 memory (RAM, ROM, including Flash memory)
2.1.4 graphics/sound/video hardware
2.1.5 heat dispersal systems – fans and heat sinks
2.1.6 storage devices – solid state, optical and magnetic
2.1.7 how internal components of a computer affect performance and user experience
2.1.8 comparison of different specifications of internal components
2.1.9 how the features of the central processing unit and graphical processing unit affect performance and user experience: o clock speed o caches o multiple processing cores o heat, power consumption
2.1.10 how the features of mobile devices affect performance/user experience: o System-on-a-Chip (SoC) o CPU and GPU o battery life
2.1.11 comparing how mobile systems are different from traditional platforms
2.1.12 how the features of memory and storage devices affect performance/ user experience: o memory (cache and RAM) o storage devices (solid state, optical and magnetic media)
2.1.13 the role of computer buses in carrying data between the internal components of a computer.
2.2 Analogue and digital data
2.2.1 the differences between analogue and digital transmission of data
2.2.2 the need to convert analogue signals to digital signals and digital signals to analogue signals
2.2.3 how data in a computer is represented using binary notation (bit, bytes, word length).
2.2.4 how characters can be represented in binary format and convert whole numbers into binary numbers (zero up to 10)
2.2.5 conversion of binary numbers (up to 8 bits) to whole numbers (base 10)
2.2.6 units used to describe memory and data storage (bit, byte, kilobyte, megabyte, gigabyte, terabyte, petabyte).
3 Learning aim: C understand different types of software.
3.1 Software
3.1.1 software as a series of programs used to direct the operation of technology systems
3.1.2 the differences between custom-made and off-the-shelf programs
3.1.3 the advantages and disadvantages of using custom-made and off-the-shelf programs.
3.1.4 the hierarchical structure of a computer as: o application software package (user interface) o high-level programming language o low-level programming language o machine code (binary number notation) o hardware
3.1.5 the main characteristics of high-level programming languages, including imperative, procedural, event-driven and object-orientated programming languages
3.1.6 the main characteristics of low-level programming languages, including assembly language and machine code
3.1.7 the main distinctions between programs in high-level and low-level forms in terms of structure, closeness to spoken language and intuition of use.
3.2 Introduction to computer programming concepts
3.2.1 flowchart symbols as described in the British Computer Society’s BCS Glossary of Computing and ICT (ISBN 978-1-906124-00-7, or subsequent editions), including terminators, connectors, processes and decision boxes
3.2.2 the purpose of simple processes represented in flowchart diagrams (decision making, finding largest/smallest number in a sequence, rates of discount/interest/payments)
3.2.3 inputs and/or outputs from simple processes represented in flowchart diagrams, including currency conversions, converting marks to grades, calculating wages including overtime payments
3.2.4 completion of flowchart diagrams with any missing decision statements and decision outcomes
3.2.5 the terms used in a computer programs, specifically: declaration, input, output, assignment, variables (local and global) and constants, sub-routines, scope of variables
3.2.6 the need to annotate code to allow for maintenance
3.2.7 the use of data types, including character, string, integer, real and Boolean
3.2.8 the use of data structures, including records and simple arrays
3.3 Operating systems and applications
3.3.1 the role of an operating system in terms of file management, hardware management (drivers), resource allocation and security
3.3.2 the role of utility applications, including disk defragmenters, firewalls and anti-virus software
3.3.3 the differences between graphical user interfaces and command-line user interfaces
3.3.4 the features of an operating system with a graphical user interface, including user interface, accessibility and ease of use
3.3.5 the features and benefits of operating systems for mobile devices, including user interface, accessibility and ease of use
3.3.6 the role of productivity applications, including office software, graphics, multimedia and web-authoring software
3.3.7 the benefits of using suites of productivity applications
3.3.8 the factors to consider when installing or upgrading an operating system or productivity application: o hardware platform o accessibility features o compatibility with preferred applications and hardware o cost (licence, set-up, training, maintenance) o speed o security features (including firewalls, malware management, setting user permissions, user support).
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