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1.2 System design basics (10 hours)

--- Components of a computer system ---


Define the terms: hardware, software, peripheral, network, human resources.


Teaching Note:


Sample Question:


JSR Notes:

Firstly, as the first part of Topic 1, 1.1.. turns to 1.2.., note the subtle difference between Planning (which was a focus in the first half of Topic 1) and Design (focused on now):

Planning is more getting ready and deciding what will need to be done. But it is not yet the designing of anything; neither any of the initial necessary pieces, nor the final product.

Design is actually designing of the product, all the way up to a working prototype.

In our IA Solution process, planning includes analyzing the situation, performing interviews etc., whereas the design is creation of class diagrams, algorithms, determining actual data types and so on, up to the development of non-working and semi-functional prototypes.


Hardware: in a phrase, the physical pieces of the system.

Computer hardware refers to the physical parts of a computer such as the monitor, mouse, keyboard, hard drive, system unit (graphic cards, sound cards, memory, motherboard and chips), etc.

Software: in a word, applications.

Computer software is all the various kinds of programs and drivers and libraries that a device reads to perform tasks. Software is stored in computer memory and cannot be physically touched though the storage devices on which it is stored can be.

Peripherals: in a phrase, the hardware devices that plug into your computer - mice, keyboards, scanners etc.

peripheral is a device that is connected to computer or other IT device in order to add functionality to it. But yet does not play an integral role in the core processing capabilities of the host device. The purpose of peripheral devices is to expand the host computer/device's capabilities in some way, often by putting into, or getting out from the computer, information. (And if it helps you, recall the more general meaning of the word "peripheral"; it means around the periphery of something - i.e. outside of it.)

Three common categories of peripheral devices are:

Network: in a phrase, any group of connected IT devices, which can share data back and forth.

A IT network is a series of points or "nodes" interconnected by communication paths, which allow computers and other IT devices to exchange data, and share other services and hardware. The connections between nodes are established using either cable media or wireless media. The Internet itself can be thought of as a network. There is much more about networks in Topic 3 of this syllabus.

Human Resources: in a sentence, this is all the people involved in an IT network, including IT Managers, Technicians, Engineers, Network Managers/Engineers, Help Desk Staff, Database Managers, Web Managers.

In some respects, this may be though of as the least obvious part of an IT system, but it is arguable its most important part. IT systems are made up of hardware, software, and people.

Every modern organization has a proportionally significant number of people who are part of the IT team. Even at a school, you will find many IT specialists who look after maintaining things such as the business office computers and network, the student database systems, the IT security and firewall, and maintenance of both student and school computers. Here at ISB, currently there are 16 IT staff, and that doesn't even include any of the academic or leadership roles.


Jaime: Firmware

Importance of human resources; the one part hardest to acquire and the one part that can make errors.