Computer Appreciation & Applications

Overview

This paper is incorporated into many programmes to provide a common computer appreciation element now expected with business courses.

Centres should be attempting to instruct students in the latest developments. As computing develops and new features become common, so minor inclusions will be added (e.g. range of computer CD devices). Deep technical details are not expected although it must be pointed out
that student performance in past papers suggests that superficial coverage in particular areas often results in student misconceptions.

Candidates should have an appreciation of how hardware/software is used and works without detailed technical knowledge. (E.g. Optical Character Reading – reflected laser light converted to binary signals – OCR recognition software needed to convert the bit-map image into words by comparison with stored patterns.)

Practical experience of the use of common general-purpose packages (word processing, database, spreadsheet etc.) is essential. A significant part of the paper will test these.

Aims

  • Appreciation of uses made in general of computers across business and associated industries.
  • General appreciation of operating a PC.
  • Simple practical experience in using standard packages such as word processing, databases and spreadsheets.

Syllabus

Hardware and data:

  • Clear Distinction Between Data and Program, Data and Options/Parameters, Programmer and User
  • General Configuration of a Computer and Components of the CPU (ALU, memory, control)
  • Directions of Data Flow
  • Types of Memory (ROM, RAM, cache, video)
  • Features of a Modern PC
  • Input Devices – General Survey with Emphasis on Use Rather than How the Device Works – OCR, OMR, MICR Devices, Bar Code Reader, Types of Keyboards, Optical Scanner, Digitiser, Voice Input Device, ATM, Touch Screen, Mouse
  • Distinction between Uses of Keyboard and Mouse
  • Output Devices – Range of Current Printer Types (laser, dot matrix, ink jet etc.) – Relative Speeds/Costs/Quality VDU, Plotters, Microfilm
  • For a Given Application, Select the Most Appropriate Input/Output Devices or Method of Data Capture
  • Data Validation – Definition and Purpose
  • Identify Validation Possible with Particular Data
  • Check Digits
  • Data Types – Integer, Decimal, Text/Character, Logical, Date, Currency etc.
  • The Need to Define Data by Type

Business Applications:

  • Accounts
  • The Component Parts of an Accounts Package
  • Typical Input and Output Documents
  • Stock Control
  • Its Purpose
  • Typical Input and Output Data
  • Contents of the Stock File
  • Sales
  • Concept of Customer, Sales Orders, Purchase Orders and Supplier Files (and stock file)
  • Contents of these Files
  • Concept of Cross-referencing (customer number linking sales order with customer file)
  • General Appreciation of Who Would Supply Input Data and Use Output Data and Why (e.g. stores clerk would use a re-order list to place orders with suppliers for restocking)

Files and File Access:

  • Magnetic and Optical Storage Devices and Media
  • Their Limitations
  • Definitions of File, Record and Field
  • Examples Taken From Particular Situations
  • File Organisation Defined as Organisation of Records on a File
  • Consideration of Serial, Sequential and Indexed Sequential Organisation
  • The Stages of Accessing a Particular Record from Serial, Sequential or Indexed Sequential Files
  • Contents of a Particular File – Fields, Data Types, Sizes, Purpose of Being on the File
  • Concept of Master and Transaction File
  • System Diagram for a General Update of a Master File Using a Transaction File
  • Security of Data Files
  • Backups, Environmental Conditions, Restricted Access, Administrative Controls
  • Distinction Between Different Types of Files – Program, Data, Text, Parameter Files

Software:

  • The Role of the Operating System in Controlling the Computer
  • Basic Features of an Operating System (command or GUI)
  • Distinction between General Purpose Software (e.g. database) and Special Purpose Software (e.g. payroll)
  • Examples of Special Purpose Packages
  • Word Processing
  • Options Available
  • How to Use Them (in general terms)
  • Margins, Fonts, Special Effects (underline/centre/bold etc.), Spell Check, Grammar Check
  • Standard Phrases
  • Inclusion of Graphics
  • Databases
  • How to Create a New File, Add Records, Edit Records, Delete Records, Selective Search by Particular Criteria, Rearrange Data, Produce Reports
  • Spreadsheets
  • Formatting a Model (decimal places, alignment, extra rows/columns etc.)
  • Adding Simple Formulae
  • Simple Functions such as Sum/Average
  • Replicating a Formula
  • Absolute and Relative Addresses
  • Graphics
  • Features Available in Graphics/Drawing/CAD Package
  • Standard Shapes
  • Moving, Enlarging, Rotating, Stretching, Colouring, Hatching, Dimensioning, Layering

Systems and Programming:

  • Brief Review of System Life Cycle
  • Methods of Fact Finding
  • An Overview of the Role of the Analyst – to Investigate, Design and Supervise Installation of a New System
  • An Overview of the Role of the Programmer – to Convert a Systems Specification into a Program by Devising a Logical Structure, Coding into a Language, Testing and Documenting
  • Distinction between Development Programmer and Maintenance Programmer
  • Distinction between High and Low Level Languages
  • Brief Survey of Common High Level Languages and Typical Uses

People, Computers and Society:

  • Brief Overview of Tasks Performed by Computing Personnel – Data Processing Manager, Systems Analyst, Programmer, Ancillary Staff/Data Input Clerks
  • Social Effects of Computers – Changes in Lifestyle, Changes at Work, Need for Training, Crime and Crime Prevention, Data Protection Acts Treated in Outline

Communications:

  • Spread of Networks – Reasons and Advantages
  • Data Transmission
  • Differences Between LAN and WAN
  • Electronic Mail Using a Provider’s Central System
  • Outline of Internet Features