Topic outline

  • What is a computer?

    Here you will learn the absolute essentials of what a computer is. You will read about the components of a computer, including the screen, the keyboard, and the mouse.

    This course is the one for you if you aren't sure how to use a mouse, or how to turn a computer on.

    This course has been specially designed for larger screens. So for the best experience, please view these activities on a laptop or desktop computer.

    Watch this short introductory video to get started.


    Welcome to "What is a computer?". In this video, we're going to look at a desktop computer, so named because they are found on desks in offices and homes around the world. We'll learn about the main parts of a desktop computer and how to use them.

    There are many different types of desktop computer, and they all need to be plugged into mains power all the time, so they need to stay on the desk. This also means you can't carry them around with you. A desktop computer is made up of a screen, which can also be called a monitor. It will have a keyboard, a mouse and a computer case, or box.

    In most computers, the brain is inside the case. When you want to use the computer, you will need to turn it on. Press the power button on the box. Then find the power button on the screen and also turn it on. A keyboard lets you enter text and numbers, so you can type information into the computer. A mouse lets you point to and click on items on the screen, and this is one way of controlling the computer. Every computer has these gaps, known as ports.

    We can plug cables into these ports and connect other pieces of equipment to the computer. A desktop computer comes with programs that allow you to do lots of different things. Programs are also called software or applications, and let you store photos, write letters, play music and more. You will learn about these things in more detail in the upcoming activities.