Course Brief

This unit exposes learners to the basic hardware that underpins most computing systems as well as the types of operating systems, communications networks and protocols that both facilitate communications and interoperability. Learners should be able to relate the technical specifications to a particular business context in order to make and justify recommendations.

  • This course is offered in 50 contact hours

Upon successful completion of this unit, learners will be able to:

  1. Understand the components of computer systems;
  2. Recommend a computer system for a business purpose;
  3. Set up and maintain computer systems;
  4. Understand basic computer networking principles;
  5. Use basic troubleshooting tools.

Understand the components of computer systems

  • Internal system unit components: processors; motherboard; BIOS; power supply; fan and heat sink or cooling; hard drive configuration and controllers eg SATA, IDE, EIDE, master, slave; ports eg USB, parallel, serial; internal memory eg RAM, ROM, cache; specialized cards eg network, graphic cards
  • Peripherals and network media: output devices eg monitor, printer, plotter; input devices eg camera, scanner; cabling eg coaxial, optical, twisted pair; routers, modems, switches
  • Backing storage: types eg disks, pen drives, optical media, flash memory cards; portable and fixed drives; performance factors eg data transfer rate, capacity


Recommend a computer system for a business purpose

  • Considerations for selection: cost; user requirements eg software to be used, network sharing, need for maintenance contract, outputs required, need for integration with other systems eg home entertainment; processing power, storage capacity, accessibility for disabled users, the ICT competence of the intended user, training requirements


Set up and maintain computer systems

  • Connect and set up: equipment eg monitor, printer, modem/router, keyboard, mouse, speakers, microphone, RAM, hard drive
  • Install hardware: components eg graphics card, sound card, CD/DVD drive
  • Install software: operating system software eg Windows; applications software eg Microsoft Office; security software eg virus checkers, firewalls; device drivers; create appropriate directory/folder structures
  • Configure: BIOS configuration eg setting a BIOS password, editing power management options; editing anti-virus configurations; editing the desktop eg icon size, font size, colour, background, icon choice; creating start-up options; setting file sharing/permissions; creating and reconfiguring application toolbars; basic network configuration
  • Testing: functionality eg software applications open and work as intended, default folder settings are correct, desktop shortcuts go to the right place, the correct device drivers are installed, the correct paper sizes are set for printing, menu options work as intended, the correct date and time are set
  • Routine maintenance: organisation and naming of files; back-up procedures eg online, off-line; back-up media; automatic scheduling and deletion of unwanted data; archiving; defragmentation; deleting temporary files; cleaning hardware eg keyboard, mouse, display screen equipment (DSE), ventilation grills; replacing consumables eg printer paper, ink or toner cartridges; replacing damaged components


Understand basic computer networking principles

  • Network architecture:  The ISO OSI and TCP/IP models, importance of layered architectures, brief examples of relevant technologies from each later. Differences between hubs, routers and switches. Client-server and peer to peer networks. Types of servers.
  • Networking protocols: TCP/IP as a communication protocol, IPv4, intro to IP ver 6, application protocols (http, ftp, ssh, telnet, SMTP etc)


Use basic troubleshooting tools

  • Operating System Software: operating system examples eg LINUX, Windows, DOS, MAC OS; command line and GUI operating systems; operating system functions and services eg machine and peripheral management, security, file management; device drivers; features eg ability to customize, support for connectivity of portable media, security, stability and reliability, ease of management, associated utilities, cost and support for the user.
  • Software Utilities: security eg virus protection, firewalls; clean up tools eg for removal of cookies, internet history, defragmentation; drive formatting, tools for testing network connectivity, host configuration tools.