Free Online Computer Course Requirements and Information
Those interested in learning about the technology behind computer hardware can take a free computer hardware class, several of which are offered online through such sources as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and The Open University. Lessons are delivered via lecture notes, slides and video. Familiarity with computers, programming and electronics is recommended. Free courses listed below don't lead to credit, and most have no educational prerequisites. However, a strong background in computer sciences is recommended for many of these courses. Some courses require special software and make reference to textbooks.
- Computation Structures takes students from the basic beginnings to gaining a full understanding of a computer system. Problem sets allow students the opportunity to design a digital system. A full range of lecture notes, assignments, and tutorials is available. A downloadable PDF file includes a students' guide to the digital world.
- Computer System Engineering guides students through the processes of engineering computer hardware and software. The user is asked to complete two system design projects. Case studies are used to illustrate in-class technological concepts. Topics of study include computer software and hardware systems, security, encryption, client-server design, and virtual memory.
- Theory of Parallel Hardware is aimed at individuals with knowledge of algorithms and computation structures. The physical design of computer systems is examined. Computer system architecture knowledge is not required, though advanced concepts, such as clocking methodologies, Boolean logic, systolic arrays, and VLSI layout theory are discussed.
The Open University
- Computers and Computer Systems aims to give students an understanding of computer components and systems in everyday life, including the storing of personal and business information. After gaining a basic definition of visualization, students study ways to interpret information depicted visually on a computer. They then move on to study various models for presenting data, such as cartograms and hyperbolic trees, before choosing one to create their own representation. At the culmination of this course, students will have broadened their understanding of the computer tools available in displaying various data.
- The Incredible Shrinking Chip features a combination of lectures and videos covering how microchips work. The evolution, application, and inner workings of the microchip are discussed, along with the future potential of this technology.
Eli the Computer Guy
- Computer Hardware Repair is a video lecture offering instructions on how to repair the most basic computer hardware issues. Students learn about powering off and on, cleaning CD/DVD drives, and replacing parts. The course also offers tips on the benefits of repairing computers versus replacing them. The video lasts slightly less than an hour.
San Francisco City College
- Intro to Computer Hardware is a free lecture offering students information on the basics of computers and computer hardware. Students learn how computers are connected together as well as their many functions. Computer languages, binary numbers, and bus connections are discussed.
- This Week in Computer Hardware is a playlist of free online classes offered by TWIT.TV, an online network offering more than 30 hours of weekly content on technology. This Week in Hardware has over 100 lecture videos to choose from. Each video covers a different topic, although they're all related to computer hardware. Students can learn about motherboards, CPUs (central processing units), RAM (random-access memory), drives, monitors, and routers.
Computer System Classes for Credit
A free online computer hardware course can be accessed online for students not seeking college credit. However, if you're trying to earn academic credit, one option is the relatively inexpensive content housed within Study.com. The engaging courses you'll find on Study.com include video lessons paired with lesson transcripts and interactive practice tests that can help you measure your understanding topic-by-topic.
Students wanting to learn computer hardware fundamentals might find Business 104: Information Systems and Computer Applications helpful, which includes relevant chapters such as:
- Hardware and Systems Technology - Enhance your understanding of computer system components, computer memory and processing devices, input devices, and related aspects.
- Systems Development - Learn more about the application development process, developing a graphical user interface, and systems development life cycles.
- Introduction to Programming - Explore analysis and design tools, basic elements of programming, programming logic and syntax, and related concepts.
Students who want to pursue a career in this field have several options for diploma and degree programs, such as a PC certificate or a degree in computer hardware engineering. Further education could result in a career as a computer support specialist or a computer technician with PC certification.