Microcomputer Applications - A Guide to Credit for Prior Learning

Typical Learning Experiences of Students Earning Lower-Level Credit:

  • Attend workshops/training courses, or complete tutorials/self-studies, to gain knowledge several software packages.
  • Understand software and hardware concepts, and have a general knowledge of computer terminology.

Typical Learning Experiences of Students Earning Upper-Level Credit:

  • Students generally do not receive upper-level credit in microcomputer applications. Those with extensive experience in the design and analysis of applications or with programming backgrounds would normally seek credit in areas such as systems analysis or programming.

Discussion Topics:

If students are familiar with some (but not necessarily all) of the following topics, they may be eligible for lower-level credit in the area of microcomputer applications. If knowledge of some of the topics is substantial, the students may consider requesting additional credit in more narrowly defined areas.

Computer Terminology

  • What is a bit? A byte?
  • What is RAM? ROM? What are typical RAM amounts for a microcomputer?
  • What is the speed of a microprocessor measured in?
  • Define ASCII.
  • What is a floppy disk used for? A hard disk? What other forms of storage are available?
  • What does a modem do?
  • Name three different types of printers.
  • Name three different types of application software.
  • What is a graphical interface? Menu driven? Command driven?

Basic Microcomputer Operations

  • How would you get a list of contents of a disk?
  • Explain how to save a file.
  • Explain how to see what files are stored on a computer.
  • Explain how to copy a file to a floppy disk and vice versa.
  • How would you print a file that is in ASCII format?
  • How would you print a file that was developed in your word processor?
  • How would you determine which applications were installed on a computer?
  • If a computer is turned on and C: displays, what does that indicate?

Systems Software

  • Define an operating system.
  • What functions are controlled by the operating system?
  • What is multitasking? Which operating systems permit multitasking?

Knowledge of Specific Package(s)

  • In what areas are microcomputer applications available?
  • What packages have you used? Describe the general purpose for each package.

Students should know how to use at least one software package. The following types of questions could be repeated for each package the student uses:

  • For what purposes do you use the package?
  • What are some of the features of the package?
  • What are the hardware requirements for the package?
  • How is the package installed?
  • What operating systems will this package work under? Which, if any, is it ideally set up for?
  • What does a document created with this package look like?
  • What are at least three advanced features of this package?
  • Can documents from this package be imported into other packages? How is this done?
  • Can documents be imported into this package? How is this done?
  • (Advanced) Compare this package to other similar packages. What are the advantages/disadvantages of each? (Note: The reply to this question needs to go beyond the surface in order to be at the advanced level.)
  • (Advanced) Have you used this package to design an application for a client? (e.g. developed a database to keep records of inventory.) Please describe. (Note: Again, considerable design and analysis must be involved in this — setting up a single spreadsheet with some numbers in it leading to a simple graph would not qualify as advanced-level work.)
  • (Advanced) Do you have knowledge of the underlying programming of this package? Is the student able to get to the programming level to customize the package?
  • (Potentially Advanced) Have you ever taught someone how to use this package? Please describe.


  • What are ways to network a computer?
  • What is the purpose of communications software?
  • If a computer is networked, what capabilities does this give the user?
  • What are some ways that a person can access the Internet?
  • Define WWW, gopher and FTP. Describe how these entities differ from each other.


  • What are some programming languages that the student is aware of?
  • Why would someone use a programming language?


  • The computer is turned on and the screen that usually displays does not appear. How would you troubleshoot this scenario?
  • A file is deleted accidentally. What steps should be taken to retrieve it?
  • A user is having trouble saving a file. What could be done to help the user?

Computers and Society

  • What books have you read that have dealt with the topic of the impact of computers on society?
  • How does the integration of computer use into a company change the communication and nature of work within that company?
  • How has computer use changed this generation of children? Compare computer usage today with the period in which you were a child.
  • What are some of the important issues raised by increased computer technology for the individual and for society as a whole?
  • What are some important ethical issues raised by increased use of technology? What about policy issues?

Microcomuter Applications Summary Form click here

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