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Communication and information technologies

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Digital communication and information technologies have become fundamental to the operation of modern societies. New products and services are rapidly transforming our lives, both at work and at play. This module helps you to learn about these new developments, and equips you with the understanding and skills to continue learning about them in the future. You will study the core principles on which the new technologies are built and, through a range of online and offline activities, investigate new topics and technologies. After studying the module you’ll be in a better position to appreciate the potential of the new technologies.

Modules at Level 2 assume that you are suitably prepared for study at this level. If you want to take a single module to satisfy your career development needs or pursue particular interests, you don’t need to start at Level 1 but you do need to have adequately prepared yourself for OU study in some other way. Check with our Student Registration & Enquiry Service to make sure that you are sufficiently prepared.

Register for the course


Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£850.00
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Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2017.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£850.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2017.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1700.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2017.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£850.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2017.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£850.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2017.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1540.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2017.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2017.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2017.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£850.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2017.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

See below for information about part time tuition fee loans available for study towards a qualification.

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2017.

*Fees may vary by country.

What you will study

The culmination of your study is a short project in which you will investigate an unfamiliar topic in communication and information technologies, and write a report that communicates your resulting knowledge to others. The rest of the module will give you the understanding and skills you need for this project, through written texts (including third party material), activities such as creating your own graphical representations and written documents, various software tools and simulations, collaboration with others, and independent research.

The module is structured into five themed blocks, each of which explores technology topics relevant to its theme.

Block 1: Storing and sharing. Every time we use computers or other digital devices we are either accessing stored data (locally or over a network), creating data that has to be stored (even if only temporarily), or sharing data with others. We therefore need ways of coding the data, devices to store it, and skills to manage and retrieve it efficiently. Sharing data at a distance also needs computer networks, and the protocols that allow them to operate together. This block introduces you to the technologies of data storage and to both wired and wireless computer networks. It will help you to develop your skills in working with these technologies efficiently and safely, finding and evaluating online information, and written communication.

Block 2: Exploring and enquiring. Mobile phone technologies have freed us from the tethers of wired networks and created new opportunities. They enable us to do such things as exploring our environment (for example, using GPS navigation) or simply enquiring about the time of a train or where to eat locally. How is it possible to do this? How can a mobile phone be used (almost) anywhere, and why are there limitations? How can the Web be accessed while on the move? How can your location be pinpointed to a few metres? What might the future hold for mobile communications? This block addresses these questions and helps you to develop your skills in getting information from technological documents. It also continues the development of your written communication skills through writing a short report.

Block 3: Creating and collaborating. The theme of this block is online collaboration. The block takes a broad, people-focused view of communication technology and helps you to understand the range of issues raised in online collaborative environments. You will learn about communication tools and technologies, including recent ‘Web 2.0’ developments such as wikis and social networking sites. You will develop your practical skills for online collaboration through small-group work with fellow students to create a socially focused website. This group work is assessed and takes place over a six-week period from late December to early February. There is a two-week study break over the Christmas period but otherwise you will need regular and frequent access to a networked computer during this time. This block also provides further opportunities for you to develop your information searching and writing skills.

Block 4: Protecting and prying. Being a member of a digital society means that, among other things, we create a trail of digital data. This data often reveals who we are and what we do. Government agencies collect and store information on their citizens from birth to death; commercial organisations create digital profiles of their customers; monitoring and surveillance cameras pervade public spaces. Such data-gathering can help to make life easier or safer for us, but can be seen as an intrusion into our private lives. This block explores the technologies of biometric identification and discusses the issues of personal data collection, mass surveillance and monitoring. It also shows how individuals can safeguard their digital identities and their computers. For the major part of your assessment, you will write a report related to a topic from the block. This will help you to prepare for the end-of-module assessment.

Block 5: Entertaining and explaining. Digital technologies provide us with many ways of creating, presenting and sharing information through text, images, audio and video. This block is designed to develop your use of computer applications in a creative way. It focuses on the production of a short video clip using animated still images with embedded audio and screen captions. During your work you will develop an understanding of audio and picture encoding and editing. The early development work is supported with some prepared video clips, leading finally to producing your own video clip. This will form part of your assignment for this block. This block develops your skills in using a number of different software applications to manipulate and present information.

If you would like to know more about this module see our taster material which includes extracts of what you will study and more details about the assessment.

You will learn

This module will help you to:

  • understand the basic principles of communication and information systems and technologies, including the way digital data is stored, manipulated and transmitted
  • understand key concepts, issues and technologies associated with online communication and collaboration
  • engage in informed discussion on the issues relating to the use of communication and information technologies
  • be aware of major trends in communication and information technologies
  • apply your understanding of communication and information technologies to learn about new or unfamiliar communication and information systems and technologies
  • communicate information effectively through a variety of different media and for different audiences
  • critically analyse documents, give and receive feedback, and improve your own work
  • work as part of a group where the collaboration is via communication technologies
  • use software tools to model and analyse systems, and to communicate information
  • perform calculations, use simple equations and work with graphs and tables.

Vocational relevance

The following skills developed during your study of this module are particularly relevant to the workplace:

  • written communication skills
  • working with others
  • information literacy
  • numeracy
  • independent learning
  • critical analysis.

Entry

This is a Level 2 module and you need to have a good knowledge of the subject area, obtained either through Level 1 study with the OU, or by doing equivalent work at another university.

You should be experienced in using a computer for working with documents, spreadsheets and accessing the World Wide Web, and you should be able to install new software on your computer. You also need basic mathematical skills so that you can work with algebraic equations and carry out numerical calculations, though the module does provide a numeracy book should you need to brush up on these skills. You should be able to write clearly in English using correct grammar, spelling and punctuation.

This assumes that you are already familiar with communication and computer technology at a level equivalent to successful study of My digital life (TU100).

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.

Preparatory work

If you are newly returned to study you may find it helpful to look at the Study strategies section of our Skills for OU Study website and to read a suitable book such as The Sciences Good Study Guide by Northedge, Thomas, Lane and Peasgood (The Open University, 1997).

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

If you have a disability

You will need to spend considerable amounts of time using a personal computer and the internet. Students with hearing or sight impairments may find some of the practical-based computer work challenging, or may need additional study support, as the activities involve accessing on screen text, viewing and creating colour images, and creating audio and video material. If you use specialist hardware or software to assist you in operating a computer and have concerns about accessing or creating these types of materials you are advised to talk to the Student Registration & Enquiry Service about support which can be given to meet your needs.

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and some mathematical and scientific materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. Other alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future.  Our Services for disabled students website has the latest information about availability.

Further information on the accessibility of this module is available from the Guide to accessibility for students.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Services for disabled students website for more information, including:

  • help to determine your study requirements and how to request the support that you need  
  • Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs)
  • using a computer for OU study
  • equipment and other support services that we offer
  • examination arrangements
  • how to contact us for advice and support both before you register and while you are studying.

Study materials

What's included

Module books, other printed materials, DVD, online forums, wiki and website.

Note that some assessment material may only be provided in electronic form online or via the website.

You will need

You will need a computer microphone and the ability to play DVDs. Though it is possible to study this module using a dial-up internet connection, broadband is highly recommended.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this course. It includes online activities – you can access using a web browser – and some course software provided on disk.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer running Windows since 2007 you should have no problems completing the computer-based activities.
  • A netbook, tablet or other mobile computing device is not suitable for this course – check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you have an Apple Mac or Linux computer – please note that you can only use it for this course by running Windows on it using Boot Camp or a similar dual-boot system.

You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information including the details of the support we provide.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. We may also be able to offer group tutorials or day schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the module. 

Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.

Assessment

The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper. The computer-marked assignments must be submitted electronically.

The end-of-module assessment (EMA) is an individual project that takes the place of an examination and must be submitted online.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in October 2014. We expect it to be available once a year.

How to register

To register a place on this course return to the top of the page and use the Click to register button.

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Distance learning

The Open University is the world’s leading provider of flexible, high quality distance learning. Unlike other universities we are not campus based. You will study in a flexible way that works for you whether you’re at home, at work or on the move. As an OU student you’ll be supported throughout your studies – your tutor or study adviser will guide and advise you, offer detailed feedback on your assignments, and help with any study issues. Tuition might be in face-to-face groups, via online tutorials, or by phone.

For more information read Distance learning explained.

Are you already an OU student ? Go to StudentHome for information on choosing your next module.
Course facts
About this course:
Course code T215
Credits 60
OU Level 2
SCQF level 8
FHEQ level 5
Course work includes:
5 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
4 Interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

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