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Posted by pbhanney on January 12, 2015

Computer Hardware

Last week I talked about some of the basic skills everyone that wants to use a computer should have (namely mouse and keyboarding skills). Today I would like to continue that conversation, but of course moving on to other skills that everyone should have.

One of these basic skills is understanding the hardware that you use when using a computer. Without this skill it can be difficult to help people understand how to use a computer. Hardware is usually one of the easiest concepts for my students to understand. Most of the concepts for hardware are very concrete ideas as most hardware can be touched.

There are four basic hardware parts that everyone should know about a computer, which include:

  • Input devices
  • Output devices
  • Storage devices
  • Processing devices
  • Communication devices

Sometimes starting to understand the differences between these devices can be a bit tricky. Sometimes my students think that a keyboard is an output device since when you type a letter it shows on the screen. Others think that a speaker is an input device because you "speak" into it. However, it is usually pretty easy to help students understand these concepts.

It is always fun to introduce the measurements of storage to my students as well. However, most of my students have the hardest time understanding the difference between RAM and ROM. I have tried several things to help them, and some students start to understand it, however, I would say most of my students still don't understand the difference. I have tried searching for activities that would help them understand it, but it is still a struggle to help them understand.

Another important concept for people to know is the differences between the different types of computers. Most people should know what a desktop or laptop is, and hopefully they also know what a tablet computer is. However, some people may be shocked to find out that a smartphone is also considered a computer. A lot of my students are surprised to find out that their game consoles are also computers.

What other hardware concepts do you think people should know to be computer literate? If you are a teacher, how do you teach your students hardware concepts? Is there any activity you use that helps in understanding the difference between RAM and ROM?

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