Never confuse education with intelligence, you can have a PhD and still be an idiot.
- Richard Feynman -


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About this course material

The bulk of the course material starts from this wiki, together with course literature as presented by your teachers. The recommended course literature is shown below.

The wiki itself for the Introduction to IT and computing material consists of a set of pages meant to be read in sequence. See, the main page for the suggested reading order.

Types of pages

The pages on this wiki for this course material (Introduction to IT and computing) are mostly divided into two types:

  • The theoretical background with explanations, definitions and examples
  • Exercises (most topics have a dedicated exercise page)

Links at the bottom of pages

At the bottom of the pages you will find links for further studies. Typical link types include:

  • Further reading - external sources for further studies
  • Video lectures and slides - Each theory page has one or more companion video lectures with an introduction to the topic
    • Some topics also have slides for an in-classroom lecture which summarizes what you have read and learned from the reading and video lectures
    • Some topics also have slides for an in-classroom workshop with a manuscript for a teacher-led workshop which takes a more practical approach of the topic
  • Where to go next - Links to the previous page and next page according to the suggested reading order of the Introduction to IT and computing pages on this wiki

Video lectures

Most modules/topics in this material have video lectures linked from the topic page in the links section.

The videos are currently hosted openly online at Vimeo. We prefer open content to content locked in behind login pages on the closed learning platforms commonly used by schools and universities.

The most common type of video lecture is a presentation (also linked close to the video links so that you can download the slides and click on links, copy examples etc) where the teachers give a lecture based on the slides in the presentation. This replaces the need for lengthy boring classroom lectures where the teacher gives a one-way lecture (without any interaction or interruptions). We try to keep each video under 10 minutes so that you have a chance to stay awake (but of course, being a video allows for you to pause anytime you want). Some of the topics are quite broad and large, however, so often a presentation-based video lecture is divided in to smaller chunks.

We link to a page on Vimeo which contains all parts of a video lecture, so that you can watch them in order if we needed to divide a video lecture into many smaller video chunks). We also link each individual video for convenience. Here's an example of what the video links might look like (taken from the module ITIC:Software_and_programming_introduction):

If you follow the first link (we recommend opening external links in a new tab in your browser, so that you keep the tab with the current page intact) with the link text "ITIC - Introduction to programming (all videos)" you will get to the Vimeo page with the videos for this lecture as shown below.

Video page for introduction to programming

Sometimes the videos are in the form of what we call "live videos", where we instead record the whole desktop and do some practical stuff, like writing a script, using an editor, installing some software etc. The classic "record a presentation and voice" videos shown above, however, are the most common type of videos used in this course material.

Some tips for viewing:

  • Open the main video page (marked in the link as "all videos") in a new tab or window
    • This keeps the module wiki page in its original tab, so you can simply close the video tab when done
  • If the "next" video link doesn't work for some reason, navigate to the next video manually from the main video page and report this to the authors (teachers) of this course material
  • Pause when there is something you don't understand, and write down your questions
  • Sometimes you have to watch a lecture twice before you fully understand it
  • If the lecture is about something practical, then pause and do the same as is shown in the video (practice commands, programming etc as you watch) - you can copy text from the linked presentation slide
  • Look at the links section of the module to see if there are links to the source code used in the lecture (sometimes that's the case)
  • If you are using this material in a course, watch the videos (and read the module page) before the classroom lecture, so that you come fully loaded with knowledge and questions
  • You are free to download the videos and watch offline (perhaps you have free and fast internet at school and can download from there)

You are free to give the links to the videos to friends and family (and any other poor recipient) Perhaps friends is a safer choice if your family isn't very much into tech stuff. You may also download the videos and watch them as many times you like. If you use the videos on your own web page (or as a teacher link or show them to your students), however, you need to follow the license (currently Creative Commons by-nc-nd 3.0). The license basically says: You are free to use this for non-commercial purposes as long as you give credit to the authors and show the license and link to the source. You are not allowed to modify the videos before any public use or publication.

At the time of writing (August 29, 2019), we have created 22 video lectures consisting of 103 video files, a total of 19h 42m 52s of video lectures for this course material. Enjoy!

Examples of pages in this material

We'll take a few modules/topics from the Introduction to IT and computing material on this wiki (you are actually reading one of the pages right now - but this is a meta page about the material and thus not suitable as an example).

We'll start by looking at the page ITIC:Digital representation - Binary which is the theoretical introduction to the topic of binary numbers and digital representation of information. The page starts of by introducing and explaining the binary number system with a lot of examples. It moves on to look at how plain text is represented in a computer (also using binary numbers). After that come a few words and examples of how arithmetic using a fixed size binary number representation can overflow (resulting in errors).

Finally, the page has a links section. Here we list links to:

  • Further reading - links for those who need or want to learn more about the topic
  • Classroom summary lecture slides - Slides that will typically be used in the classroom as the manuscript for a summary lecture
    • Note that this will typically be used in a flipped-classroom fashion, where the students are required to read the material (and watch any video lectures in advance)
  • Video lectures and slides (links to the teachers' online video lectures and the slides used in those lectures)
  • Workshop slides - Slides that will be used as the manuscript for an in-classroom workshop (if your teachers decide to use that - see your schedule and ask your teachers if you are unsure)
  • Source code - links to online source code if there are examples that include program source code in the wiki page and/or video lecture
  • Navigation - Links to the previous and next page, according to our suggested reading order

The next page (according to our suggested reading order) is called ITIC:Digital_representation_-_Binary_-_Exercises - a naming scheme that is typical to the topics that come with an exercise page. Here you will find questions and exercises (often with suggested solutions that you can expand with a click if you get stuck and need to peek at our suggested answers).

Consult your schedule and/or teachers to find out when its planned that you should work with the exercises. There might be scheduled exercise sessions where you have access to supervisors and/or teachers. There is nothing wrong with trying to solve the exercises before-hand, anyway. If you use this material for self-studies, then you can dive into the exercises when you are done with the theory page.

The next example topic pages we'll use here is ITIC:Software_and_programming_introduction (which happens to come after the exercises on binary representation exercises according to the suggested reading order). This page follows basically the same structure.

First it lists a few reading tips with suggested course literature readings that you should read before taking on this page. You will benefit from reading the course literature first, but you should be able to dig right in. Note that the course literature and wiki theory pages are overlapping but both contain topics that the other doesn't cover. That's why we suggest that you always read both the wiki and the course material if possible.

Next comes an introduction to programming using Kernighan's Toy Computer model (a simplified simulation of a programmable "computer"). We give examples of programs for the Toy Computer and explain how they work. Next we move on to show you the same program using "real" programming languages - just to expose you to program source code. The purpose isn't to teach you how to program, but rather to explain what programming is and what program source code look like.

After this follows a discussion on what software is and how it is created. This deals with programming languages and why we need them, and how they differ etc. Then we have a short introduction to algorithms with an example of a classic algorithm for searching sorted data.

After this comes the links section with links to the summary lecture slides, the online video lectures and their slides, and the navigation links.

This page also has as a bonus section at the end (we have marked this as an indented section) with an inclusion of a different page from a different collection of materials from elsewhere on this wiki. See this as exactly that, a bonus for the ambitious student. Since we have written about similar topics in other course material collections on this wiki, we thought we might as well include the page directly here, rather than simply providing a link to it.

Some pages in this course material have such inclusions of other pages at the end (with some indentation and other typographical distinctions to make them stand out).

The page that follows the introduction to programming is ITIC:Software_and_programming_introduction_-_Exercises, again following the same naming pattern - the topic folllowed by " - Exercises". This page contains the questions and exercises for the topic of software and programming introduction.

Course material reading companions

If you are using this course material as part of an actual course (e.g. at university), then please refer to the course literature list provided by the teachers.

Below we list some literature that we recommend as readings for this course material to complement the material found on this wiki. Please note that the two books by Brian Kernighan are basically the same. We recommend the one from 2017 but either will work fine.


Title Author Publisher ISBN 10 ISBN 13 Year/edition Price (circa) Pages Comments
Understanding the Digital World:

What You Need to Know about
Computers, the Internet, Privacy, and Security

Brian W. Kernighan PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS n/a 9780691176543 2017 230 SEK 256 Newer edition of D is for Digital
Same content,
Pick one of them.
D Is for Digital:

What a Well-Informed Person Should Know about
Computers and Communications

Brian W. Kernighan CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform n/a 9781463733896 2011 200 SEK 238 Covers most of this course material's topics
Older version of
Understanding... above.
Pick one of them.
Datorkunskap för IT-studenter:

Vad varje student behöver veta för att klara IT-studier (Swedish compendium)

Rikard Fröberg and Henrik Sandklef Juneday n/a n/a 2019 Free for students 100 Covers a lot of this course material's topics
Övningshäfte - Datorkunskap för IT-studenter:

(Exercises in Swedish for the Swedish compendium)

Rikard Fröberg and Henrik Sandklef Juneday n/a n/a 2019 Free for students 44 Covers a lot of this course material's topics

The digital landscape, digitalization, digital this or that

You may have heard the term Digital landscape. We have no idea what that means, but we thought we'd share the image we get whenever we hear the term. This course material is less about the cant and jargon of academia and business folks and more about the terms used when doing IT, in the sense of working with computers, programming, understanding how data is represented (even a landscape can be represented digitally, like a picture or image of a landscape) etc.

Oxford defines Landscape as follows

All the visible features of an area of land, often considered in terms of their aesthetic appeal.

1.1 A picture representing an area of countryside.

1.2 (mass noun) The genre of landscape painting.

1.3 The distinctive features of a sphere of activity.

The above definition didn't quite help the authors of this wiki to understand what digital landscape may mean, but we guess that it is the latter definition, the distinctive features of a sphere of activity, where the sphere of activity then must be digital. Perhaps it means digital activities? But that begs the question, what is a digital activity?

Hopefully, you will learn about digitalization throughout this course material. It's probably best that we now also define what we mean by digitalization (sometimes: Digitization). We're not talking about a trend in society, but rather the activity of converting information into a computer-readable format (organizing the information in bits - binary numbers). In fact, we have a whole module dedicated to the beautiful topic of bits and bytes. We will at least show you how numbers and text can be digitized into strings of binary numbers.

Understanding binary numbers will be a good foundation to understanding the basic of how a computer can be programmed and thus make it process input and produce output. It also makes it easier to understand what a file is and how it might be represented on disk. Understanding the plain text format is, moreover, an important part of IT and computing, since so many files are simple text representations of source code, settings, and various data formats. This will come in handy when moving on to courses in programming, web, operating systems, networking and even databases.


Video lecture slides and videos

  • If we have time, we'll add a video overview of the course material and how to use the wiki here.

Where to go next

The next page is Setting_up_your_environment.

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