Computer Operations

Learn the basics of operating a PC with a Windows operating system using Microsoft products. This is a great course for those wanting to understand the basics of computers.

Course CodeVIT101
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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A Course for Anyone who Hasn't Studied Computers Before

Most people know what a computer is, how to switch it on, and how to send an email or type a document; but computers can be more "tricky" than that. Things do go wrong; and all sorts of issues can arise that for many can be confusing.

This course was written for people who struggle at times with using a computer; or simply lack the confidence to try doing things or solving problems when they arise.  This may be a very useful course for you, if:

  • You are tired of waiting for a relative or the neighbours son to come and help, this may be a course for you.
  • You've found lack of computer skills have stalled your work or business opportunities.

It provides a very solid introduction to understanding both hardware and software. We do assume you have that basic understanding mentioned earlier; but the course can be valuable for anyone from a beginner through to someone who has used computers before but only for very basic things like emails and typing a simple document.

The emphasis is on personal computers (i.e. P.C's) and while the course is relevant to all types of PC's using microsoft windows as an operating system.

This course is revised periodically, and underwent a significant overall revision in 2017.

Lesson Structure

There are 13 lessons in this course:

  1. Hardware Components
  2. Peripherals
  3. Operating Systems (Windows,DOS etc)
  4. Files and Folders
  5. Office Applications
  6. Windows Accessories Programs
  7. Disk Management
  8. Installation of Software
  9. Trouble Shooting
  10. Microsoft Word
  11. Microsoft Excel
  12. Microsoft Access
  13. Microsoft Powerpoint

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Identify different hardware components of a computer system
  • Assemble peripherals for a computer system
  • Obtain a generic (general) understanding of common computer operating systems.
  • Describe more advanced features that are available with Microsoft Windows.
  • Provide an introduction to commonly used office applications.
  • Describe common Windows accessories programs.
  • Describe techniques used in computer Disk Management
  • Install different software programs into computer systems, in accordance with manuals.
  • Determine the cause of common problems which occur with computer systems.
  • Explain how to use MS Word, Excell, Access and Power point

What You Will Do

  • Explain the role of the motherboard and the CPU in a computer system.
  • Briefly, describe the evolution computer systems, starting from the first IBM PC through to the most currently generally available systems available today. Make special reference to changes that you deem to be 'significant' leaps in this evolutionary process.
  • Name five things that the motherboard is responsible for supporting.
  • Explain how modems measured in terms of performance.
  • Compare three different types of printers (i.e. inkjet, laser and dot matrix) and explain how they differ in the ways that they produce a printed page.
  • Define the following computer terms: screensaver, wallpaper, device driver, sound card
  • Discuss ‘Brief case’, when might you use this feature, and how a brief case can be added to your desktop.
  • List the advantages and disadvantages of having several windows open at the same time and describe two situations that either illustrates advantages and/or difficulties than might be encountered when you work with more than one window open.
  • In order to install or set up a new printer, write down what you would click on or type for each step and what would happen when that was done on the computer.
  • Choose a software program (different to your set task) of your choice, and write about the steps involved with its installation onto a hard drive.
  • You are trying to run a DOS program and you get an Insufficient Expanded Memory error message in a DOS window. If expanded memory on your computer is set to Auto, how can you correct this problem?
  • A computer stopped working after a violent electrical storm so the customer stopped using it for a year, he has finally brought it to you to look at because the keyboard isn't working and it will not boot. List the steps you would take to determine what is wrong with it and write what your opinion of what is damaged.

Start by Understanding the Computer System

The computer itself is only part of a system.

Put simply, the computer is at the centre of the system. It is a machine that does all the "thinking". Beyond that, there are all words of other things that connect in and out of the system. Those things are called peripherals.

A peripheral could include any number of devices that are added to a computer system to make it more accessible as a working tool. 
Peripherals, like all technology, change and evolve rapidly; today’s latest tools may be out-of-date tomorrow. However, implementing new technology can be a risky, complex, knowledge-intensive and expensive process for a business. For this reason, you will find that many small to medium size organisations and businesses are still using ‘legacy’ technology and older peripheral devices. It is important to understand both the old and the new in order to support computer systems and users effectively.

To help understand this better; it may help to see the computer as being like a human brain, and everything else in the human body is like the peripherals.

Operating Systems

At the centre of any computer, you will have software called an operating system.

Software is like the memories that inhabit our brain - the information that drives the computer.

Operating systems are programs that support a wide range of other software programs.

Without software, your computer will have nothing to run. Every computer requires an operating system. Generally, on PCs, the most common operating system is Microsoft Windows, although some other operating systems such as Linux and Unix also are in use. The quality and abilities of an operating system will affect what can be done with other software on a computer.

By gaining a generic (general) understanding of operating systems, you will develop a better foundation for understanding Windows. Windows in effect is simply an operating system that is more sophisticated than many of the operating systems that came before it; but in essence it is designed to do the same task.

The operating system basically tells the computer how to operate, and how to interact with the other programs installed on the computer.

Application software (‘an application’) is the software that is loaded to enable you to perform tasks, such as word processing, spreadsheet analysis, database storage and retrieval of files. A ‘suite’ of applications is a series of application software products that are designed to work in related ways. Microsoft Office is one example. Sometimes the word ‘bundling’ is used to refer to grouping of related applications into a single suite. A ‘stand-alone’ software application can be installed and run independently from an application suite.

The application software uses the operating system to interact with the computer. You can think of the operating system as the “base” software, with the application software running on top.


Computers do not work alone. They are no more than an electronic tool. An operating system is a set of instructions, very complex instructions, that enables the computer to work. In some ways an operating system is like a language. Both provide a framework within which other functions can happen.

Each computer needs at least one operating system ("OS"), and it is within the framework of that operating system that all other functions occur. The operating system will perform necessary management tasks such as:

  •     Copying files from one disk to another
  •     Formatting a disk
  •     Running other programs
  •     Allowing the computer to communicate with you (the operator).
  •     Managing user access and file security

An operating system will have particular hardware requirements in order to run effectively. These include such things as available disk space, processor speed and available RAM. As operating systems evolve, these demands generally increase, and old hardware is often unable to run newer operating systems. In addition, the advent of smart phones and tablets has resulted in a new range of operating systems, specifically designed with these hardware platforms in mind.

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