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8-1/2 | 8-3


Knowledge of digital infrastructure DTG 6-11

Achievement Standard 1.50, AS91080

Knowledge of digital infrastructure focuses on the concepts of digital infrastructure within personal computers, local area networks (LANs) and Wide Area Networks (WANs). At curriculum level 6 the focus is the concepts of digital infrastructure within personal computers. 

Learning Objective: DGT 6-11

Students will:

  • Demonstrate understanding of digital infrastructure components

Indicators

Students can:

  • describe and identify the purpose of the components of basic digital infrastructures
  • describe the typical connections and data flow between components of a basic digital infrastructure
  • describe the key characteristics of components of a basic digital infrastructure that limit their inter-operability
  • describe a procedure or protocol for installing or replacing a physical component or a program
  • explain how the purpose of components determines the connections between components and the typical flow of data along them
  • explain how the key characteristics of components limit their inter-operability
  • explain the importance of procedures and protocols when installing or replacing a component or a program
  • discuss the characteristics and limitations of the connections that carry data between components
  • discuss the key characteristics used to specify each kind of component in terms of inter-operability, tradeoffs, efficiencies, cost, and context of use.

Progression

As part of a junior technology programme students should learn about:

  • the external connections to a personal computer, and be able to correctly identify common peripheral connections to common devices such as keyboard, mouse, monitor, printer, webcam, speakers, and network
  • how to connect and disconnect peripherals without causing damage
  • how to install software packages (e.g. games)
  • how to access software from the operating system
  • how to store files logically within the file system so as to keep track of where they are stored
  • how to startup, logon, logoff, restart and shutdown a computer without problem

At level 6 students learn about the common components of basic digital infrastructures consisting of personal computer hardware, associated peripherals and system software. Students learn about the purpose of the components, typical connections and data flow between components, characteristics of components that limit their inter-operability, and procedures and protocols for installing or replacing a component or a program. 

The Teacher Guidance section provides information that supports teachers scaffolding of learning from levels 1-8 of the curriculum. This allows for differentiation of a programme of learning.

The deliberate use of provide, guide, and support in this section signals that as students' capacity for self-management increases, teachers progressively reduce the level of scaffolding provided.

  • Provide – the teacher should take full responsibility for introducing and explicitly teaching new knowledge, skills or practices.
  • Guide – the students have a level of understanding and competency on which they can draw but the teacher remains primarily responsible for continuing to develop these.
  • Support – the students take primary responsibility for their own learning, drawing on all their previous experiences to consolidate and extend their understanding. The teacher is supportive rather than directive.
  • The Teacher Guidance also uses the term ensure to indicate when the teacher plays a monitoring role to check that conditions critical for learning are present. 

Teacher Guidance

To support students to develop understandings about of digital infrastructure components at level 6, teachers could:

  • Provide students with the opportunity to explore digital infrastructure in order to identify personal computer hardware, associated peripherals and system software.
  • Guide students to identify a provided selection of computer hardware components and associated peripherals.
  • Provide the opportunity for students to explore the purpose of components and their characteristics.
  • Assist in the refinement of reflective and inquiry questions related to the understanding of procedures and protocols associated with basic infrastructure.
  • Guide students on how to prepare reports including ways to structure a report and literacy strategies to support report writing in a way that will allow students to describe, explain, and discuss.
  • Provide opportunities for students to practice report writing, including acknowledging sources and bibliographies. 

Contexts for teaching and learning

The intent of this objective is to allow students the opportunity to explore digital infrastructure in order to understand personal computer hardware, associated peripherals, and system software. It is recommended that there is opportunity for students to explore the purpose of components and their characteristics. Although this is a knowledge objective, students often learn best by doing. In infrastructure topics there is a significant opportunity to use practical contexts prior to theory that provides students with significant motivation to learn. A sequence of practical activities that allow students to identify the purpose of the component, look at the connections and dataflow will scaffold the understandings that students need as well as provide ample opportunity for repetition to reinforce understanding. These practical aspects can keep students focused in their learning and also encourage the development of motivation and self-management through repeated success.

It is strongly recommended that any practical work associated with this learning objective is setup and delivered in a way that will not compromise the school computers. (e.g. do not attempt to cover this objective by giving student administrator access to the school computers, or allow them to install or configure componentry unsupervised). Schools need to consider the legal constraints when installing operating systems and software. E.g. Microsoft Schools agreement. Any practical work must be done in a safe manner in accordance with accepted best practice and the recommendations in "Safety in Technology Education: A Guidance Manual for New Zealand Schools".

Students need to be familiar with a wide range of computer hardware, associated peripherals, and system software.It should be noted that computer hardware and software specifications change rapidly so those listed below are a snapshot of what could be encountered when working with current and recent technologies e.g.

  • video connections: VGA vs. DVI vs HDMI vs Displayport
  • video resolutions: 720P vs 1080i(full HD) vs 2k vs 4k
  • CRT vs LCD vs LED monitors
  • Graphics card variants
  • USB2.0 vs USB3.0 vs USB3.1
  • SATA revisions
  • SSD vs spinning Hard Disk
  • PCI vs PCIe,
  • audio interfaces (analog versus digital)
  • the range of optical devices from CD-R to DVD+RW
  • AMD, Intel, and other CPUs, and a selection from the range of sockets that supports their evolving technology
  • RAM size and speed specifications, memory slot (DDR2/3/4)
  • How to connect to a network/router for access
  • Power Supply ratings
  • Case size and cooling requirements
  • BIOS, its purpose and how to enter and exit it.
  • MS Windows 7 vs MS Windows 8.1 vs Linux (Ubuntu) vs MacOS and the implications of using non-supported older operating systems(e.g. MS Windows XP)
  • Keeping device drivers (e.g. printers and video cards) up to date and appreciations of the signing of drivers for Windows 8
  • Disk Utilities and appreciate and their benefits and limitations on performance
  • The difference between viruses and malware and how to install and maintain software to identify and reduce risk from these

If possible avoid older legacy technologies which students would not be likely to encounter, such as floppy drives, USB1.X, SDRAM, DDR, IDE/PATA drives, ISA/EISA bus, older VGA standards.

Students need to build up their understanding of the key characteristics of the targeted components to show an understanding of how the choice of components and software could limit interoperability between components. For example, a student can identify the difference between USB2.0 and USB3.0 and the features provided by the later; the student can talk about the typical connections (eg USB Type A, Type B, micro, mini, 3.0 Type B, 3.1 & Type C) and the serial and duplex dataflow. Students could also look at previous versions of components, e.g. memory (RAM) sockets, the progression in CPU types, changes from IDE/PATA to SATA and changes in motherboard power supply connections. The number of alternatives between motherboard, processor and memory configurations can easily lead to trying to bring together components that will not work with each other. Students should be able to build an appreciation of this and develop a logical plan to avoid this sort of issue. 

Students need to be able to comment on limitations, this could be student understanding about the progression with technologies such as USB (2.0 to 3.1) the change of form factor from PCI to PCIe and differences in RAM regarding speed.

Students need to refer to procedures and protocols either through flow charts, lists, images etc. to aid someone to follow a process to successfully install the component. Students should understand the importance of following these procedures and protocols with examples of what could happen with components if these procedures/protocols are not followed.

Students can collaborate on any practical and research tasks as part of the teaching and learning related to this topic. However they should generate their own evidence for assessment purposes.

Literacy considerations

There is a considerable amount of specialist language including abbreviations used in infrastructure topics. Teachers need to ensure students are familiar with this terminology. In addition to the various components of a basic digital infrastructure system, students need to understand terms such as protocol, procedure, dataflow, and interoperability.

Students will also need to demonstrate their understanding by doing more than just identifying components, they will need to be able to descibe, explain and discuss the components, characteristics and limitations of components within a digital infrastructure system. Teachers will need to give students strategies to explain or discuss information at the level expected.

Generic understanding of the academic terms

  • to describe is a statement that gives details about the outcome or idea
  • to explain is to describe in detail with reasons – often including the how and why
  • to discuss requires an explanation that is comprehensive, detailed, broad and show evidence of some complexity in thinking. It may be a reasoned argument presenting a particular point of view, or a comparison and contrast between two ideas or concepts; or it may be a detailed reasoning and relationship between several complex ideas 

Appropriate referencing and plagiarism are issues that will need to be covered within the teaching and learning programme. Students must do more than reproduce material from the internet; they need to "own" what they present for assessment, reference appropriately and demonstrate they understand any information they have gained from other sources. 

Resources to support teaching and learning

Assessment for qualifications

The following achievement standard(s) could assess learning outcomes from this learning objective:

  • AS91080 Digital Technologies 1.50: Demonstrate understanding of the common components of basic digital infrastructures

Key messages from the standard

Students are required to demonstrate understanding of "what a computer is", and "how the flow of information in a computer occurs" and "how the computer connects to computer hardware, associated peripherals and system software".

Students need to be able to describe a procedure/protocol for installing and replacing a component or program, this could be via practical, verbal or written assessment.

Note that the standard is explicit in the range of understandings required of the student; students will need to show understanding of current and legacy hardware and software, their functionality, tradeoffs, efficiencies, costs and where they are most suitably used. 

For the purpose of this standard the students are investigating the hardware and connections of a personal computer, although this is not a networking standard they are required to understand the connection of a computer to a router or modem. 

Explanatory Note 3 unpacks all of the common components of a basic digital infrastructure. The standard requires that these be all addressed when covering the requirements of Explanatory Note 2.It may not be suitable to demonstrate all of the concepts for all components. For example, it may not be possible to describe the computer case in relation to the typical connections and data flow between connections. 

"Typical connections" refers to such things as CPU sockets, memory (RAM) sockets, motherboard busses, video connectors and USB types. 

"Data flow" refers to both the internal and external input/output processes of the computer, such as the change in technology from parallel to serial connections (IDE to SATA, Parallel printer connections to USB) and the availability of optical data paths for audio signals. Efficiencies refers to such things as dataflow capability, and not using a series of high spec components with low spec ones, e.g. an i7 processor in a system a low quality graphics card, or not providing enough RAM for a system, or specifying a suitable PSU.

Tradeoffs and costs often relate to one another and can refer to such things as lowering the specification of the CPU so that more RAM could be purchased, or not having an optical drive so that a higher spec graphics card could be installed. It is important that the student gain an appreciation of the balance between a user’s needs and the required computer components to match them, this is more than for instance identifying the latest or fastest components and as much RAM as possible.

"Procedure or protocol" is explained inExplanatory Notes 5 and 6

"A procedure" is a method that provides a working methodology (i.e. a recipe). A procedure is a series of steps followed in a regular, definite order to achieve a specified result. The goal of a written procedure is to enable a user to carry out an action with which he or she might not be familiar.

"A protocol" is a much more rigorously written and recognised procedure, usually written by an organisation to standardise institutional procedures. For example, the proper installation of an operating system or a device driver.

Suitable types of evidence for this standard may include written reports, videos and other types of presentations. Screenshots, diagrams, or photos with annotations are all useful techniques to consider. Short answer questions do not usually allow students to meet the requirements of the standard. Formal and informal oral assessments are possible if accurately logged by teachers.

For the most up to date information, teachers should be referring to the latest version of the standards, conditions of assessment and assessment resources on TKI and the moderators reports, clarifications documents and student exemplars on the NZQA website. See links below.

Resources to support student achievement

Last updated June 8, 2018



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