|Main Aims of the Unit:
This unit will introduce a wide range of business applications and will improve the students understanding of such systems in a real situation. Applications of systems involving a large number of records will be introduced. The student will gain a good understanding of the meaning of data in different contexts. (Note: This unit does not examine in detail the use of off-the-shelf applications packages such as spreadsheets, databases, etc.)
Main Topics of Study:
- Define package, program, application, program and data.
- Benefits and limitations of different data capture methods to the business and to the client.
- Data capture forms (screen and paper). In this case, an awareness that screen is an output device confirming inputs.
- Outputs (printed and screen). Selection of appropriate form of output. Billing layouts.
- Distinction between on-line direct access and batch runs.
- Process diagrams. Systems flowchart or Data flow diagrams could be used but a formal diagram is not expected - the requirements are that candidates are aware of the sequence of events including rectifying errors.
- Back-up systems needed including restart processes where a lengthy print run may fail in mid run because of a printer failure.
B. Applications: Thorough investigation of each of the following applications:
- Mail order and customer accounts
- Stock control
- Supermarket sales
- Library administration
- Public utility companies’ administration
- Hotel administration and bookings
- Banking related to customer accounts.
- Club membership
- Estate agency (real estate) administration.
Such an investigation of each of the above applications should cover the aspects listed below.
- Overall purpose of the application.
- The role of the people involved.
- The detailed format of the sources data for each aspect of the application.
- The method of data capture for each type of input. Devices suitable for this.
- The processes that operate in the business - systems diagrams. Batch or on-line.
- The filing systems required including contents of each file and methods of organisation and access.
- The outputs that are produced.
- The devices required for each type of output.
- How each output will be used and possible follow-ups.
Learning Outcomes for the Unit:
At the end of this Unit, students will be able to:
- Evaluate a specific business system
- Identify required inputs and outputs
- Analyse the data format requirements of systems
- Describe the required processing for a complete business system
- Identify the roles of people involved in the system
The numbers below show which of the above module learning outcomes are related to particular cognitive and key skills:
Knowledge & Understanding 2, 4
Evaluation 1, 3
Interactive & group Skills -
Self-appraisal/Reflection on Practice -
Planning and Management of Learning -
Problem Solving 3, 4
Communication & Presentation 4
Other skills (please specify) -
Learning and teaching methods/strategies used to enable the achievement of learning outcomes:
Learning takes place on a number of levels through lectures, class discussion including problem review and analysis. Formal lectures provide a foundation of information on which the student builds through directed learning and self managed learning outside of the class. The students are actively encouraged to form study groups to discuss course material which fosters a greater depth learning experience.
Assessment methods weightings which enable students to demonstrate the learning outcomes of the Unit:
3 hour examination: 100%
The examination paper will consist of 8 questions with question 1 being compulsory and a further four being required.
Indicative Reading for this Unit:
Refer to the ICM website for notes on this subject
Alternative texts and Further Reading:
Computer Science for Advanced Level by R Bradley - Stanley Thornes
Guideline for Teaching and Learning Time (10 hours per credit)
Lectures / Seminars / Tutorials / Workshops: 50 hours
Tutorial support includes feedback on assignments and may vary by college according to local needs and wishes.
Directed learning: 50 hours
Advance reading and preparation / Class preparation / Background reading / Group study / Portfolio / Diary etc
Self managed learning: 100 hours
Working through the course text and completing assignments as required will take up the bulk of the learning time. In addition students are expected to engage with the tutor and other students and to undertake further reading using the web and/or libraries.
- WARNING. This module is mainly concerned with systems of particular business situations. Candidates should only be entered for this module if a range of applications are studied and in detail. A summary in note form of a sample system is listed at the end of this syllabus to give an outline of the requirements.
- Candidates must be introduced to the idea that business applications normally involve a very large number of records (customers, accounts, products) and must not be confused with classroom exercises which tend to consider only a small number. A supermarket could have 25,000 products on its shelves. An electricity board may supply power to one million homes and businesses. There may also be a large number of different processes within an application, many of them as fail-safe provisions to correct for errors or change of circumstances. “Display the file on the screen” is clearly not even a remote possibility, even with scrolling.
- Candidates will be expected to have a good understanding of the particular data associated with each application area. In addition, there may be a variety of different types of inputs and outputs. Stored data may also be used in different ways. Answers to questions must be specific. For instance, they must go beyond stating “the data is input….” by indicating exactly what data is captured, how, when and by whom/ what.
- Candidates who rely on “learning” the processes will find this module difficult - they must understand the whole system. The supplied example below (only in note form) shows the extent to which the real system differs from the ideal one where everything works without fault. The applications considered are complex. In a given paper, different aspects of business data processing will be covered in different applications.
- Online applications which use the internet will NOT be tested on this paper but will be tested in the NETWORKS paper.
- Each application should be taught separately, preferably as a case study. Teachers may find that roleplay may be an effective way to teach this subject with students acting as customers and data clerks and even being a particular file. The movement of data can then be illustrated.
- The systems considered here are not part of an academic exercise. Many will be relevant to their home life and therefore a better understanding can be gained by discussing this outside the classroom with affected people - parents, family and friends.
- It is not sufficient to cover a small number of the applications because this will restrict the candidate’s choice in the examination and the chosen ones may not be tested in a given paper.
- Five to six hours on each application should be sufficient. It may take ten hours to cover the first. Methods learnt in one application will almost certainly help understanding of later ones which should therefore take less time. Well into the course, one of the systems could be set as a student homework project provided the teacher later brings out the elements of the solutions for all the class to see.