DIGI101-21S1 (C) Semester One 2021

Working in a Digital World

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 22 February 2021
End Date: Sunday, 27 June 2021
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 7 March 2021
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 14 May 2021


This course provides students with an understanding of how the digital world is engineered, and exposes them to a range of tools commonly used by knowledge workers. Students will learn to critically evaluate systems from both a technical and human point of view.

This course assumes that you already have a basic idea of how to use computers for everyday applications, but would like to find out more about what’s really going on in this digital world that we live in, and how to improve your efficiency and effectiveness using digital tools. We’ll look at things like what makes a good and bad interface, what can cause computers to run slowly, and what sort of cyber threats you should worry about (and not worry about). It is recommended whether or not you’re majoring in Computer Science, as it provides a general background that all computer users will benefit from, and will give insights about the users’ experience to those who are likely to be designing new computer systems.

DIGI101 is intended to help both digital natives (people who grew up with a computer in the home) and digital immigrants (new users) make sense of the digital world we live in. Natives, who have grown up with computer technologies, are probably used to accepting them too uncritically, while immigrants may be wary of adopting new software or gadgets because they feel that the anticipated cost of learning their use will outweigh any benefits.

In this course we will help you to better understand the digital devices you use every day and show you how to work more efficiently and effectively with computers and computer-based devices. We will also examine the effect digital technologies have on society and individuals, including new risks and new ethical issues. This will include understanding the key ideas behind how technologies such as cloud systems and mobile devices work in order to make informed decisions about existing and new technologies.

In lectures we will look at the world of computing in general: how to assess “usability”, tricks for using everyday software efficiently and effectively, issues that have come about because of digital technology such as loss of privacy, and exploring what may happen in the future. Laboratory exercises will be used to give concrete examples of the general principles we discuss during lectures.

Learning Outcomes

The goal of the course is that students will be able to work efficiently and effectively in our digital world. The emphasis is not so much on how to use existing technologies, but to evaluate whatever new technology they may encounter, and be discerning when using digital technology in their work so that their use of technology is both efficient and effective; this may include choosing not to use a technology if it has a negative impact, whether on efficiency, effectiveness, or in terms of ethical or societal implications.


COSC 110, COSC101

Timetable Note

Depending on final student numbers, some of the advertised lab/tutorial streams may not run. Final lab/tutorial options will be available for self-allocation closer to the start of the semester through My Timetable.

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Tim Bell

Textbooks / Resources

There is no formal recommended textbook, as we will use online resources and material supplied through Learn.

The COSC101/DIGI101 Laboratory book will be available online (no cost).

We will also make use of Internet sites with relevant material, such as howstuffworks.com and wikipedia.org. References to these sites will be given throughout the course, but you should also use them when you need more detailed explanations of terms used in the course.

Additional notes and documentation will be handed out during lectures. Electronic copies will be available on the COSC101/DIGI101 Learn site.


There are several important documents available online about departmental regulations, policies and guidelines at the following site. We expect all students to be familiar with these.

Notices about this class will be posted to the class forum in the Learn system.

COSC students will also be made members of a class called “CSSE Notices”, where general notices will be posted that apply to all classes (such as information about building access or job opportunities).

Additional Course Outline Information

Grade moderation

The Computer Science department's grading policy states that in order to pass a course you must meet two requirements:
1. You must achieve an average grade of at least 50% over all assessment items.
2. You must achieve an average mark of at least 45% on invigilated assessment items.
If you satisfy both these criteria, your grade will be determined by the following University- wide scale for converting marks to grades: an average mark of 50% is sufficient for a C- grade, an average mark of 55% earns a C grade, 60% earns a B- grade and so forth. However if you do not satisfy both the passing criteria you will be given either a D or E grade depending on marks. Marks are sometimes scaled to achieve consistency between courses from year to year.

If factors beyond your control (such as illness or family bereavement) prevent you from completing some item of course work (including laboratory sessions), or prevent you from giving your best, then you may be eligible for aegrotat, impaired performance consideration or an extension on the assessment. Details of these may be found in the University Calendar. Supporting evidence, such as a medical certificate, is normally required. If in doubt, talk to your lecturer. For COSC110, if you miss lab work due to illness you will normally be given an extension.

Computing Equipment

The practical part of this course uses personal computers (Windows PCs), which are available in the COSC110 computer laboratory on level 1 of the Erskine building (room 131). You will be shown where this equipment is located within the laboratory, and will be allocated two hours per week of tutor-assisted lab work. Your student card will provide access for some after-hours work in this lab.
Note that outside of lab times the Computer Science Department’s computers may only be used for assigned course work!
The ICT Services department (ICTS) makes PCs available in various workrooms around campus. Most of these facilities are available 24 hours per day, although some of the workrooms can be booked for classes and access may be limited at certain times. Further information can be found here

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $877.00

International fee $4,438.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

Minimum enrolments

This course will not be offered if fewer than 15 people apply to enrol.

For further information see Humanities and Creative Arts .

All DIGI101 Occurrences

  • DIGI101-21S1 (C) Semester One 2021