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Data Representation in Computing: Bring Data to Life

CO209 Online course

Learn how data is represented through media; audio, visual and text.

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Data & information Programming Computing Key stage 3 Key stage 4 KS3 and GCSE subject knowledge certificate
Free online course Approximately 8 hours of self-study

Learn how data is represented through media; audio, visual and text. This online course explores how computers do interesting things with data. You’ll discover how to represent and manipulate text, images and sound and compression and other algorithms.

Due to its section on the representation of images, this course includes several steps and questions based around visual content.

Who is it for?

We recommend that learners have a basic understanding of Python, for example gained from our Programming 101 course for beginners

An understanding of binary is helpful but not necessary (you may be interested in our How Computers Work course)

Topics covered

You'll cover the following topics:

  • how computers use binary
  • Hexadecimal
  • using binary to represent colours
  • how bitmap images use binary 
  • how sound files are stored
  • compression

How will you learn?

This online, self-paced course can be completed flexibly. You can join and start this course at any time after the advertised date. This course is not facilitated. You can learn independently or with colleagues to directly address your individual needs.


You will be able to:

  • Describe how computers represent text, images and sound in binary 
  • Explain how text is represented digitally by using common text encoding (ASCII and UTF-8) 
  • Produce your own emoji in bitmap and vector form 
  • Investigate the physics of sound, and how sampling allows computers to represent sounds 
  • Compare lossy and lossless compression

This course is part of the KS3 and GCSE Computer Science subject knowledge certificate

Key stage 3 and GCSE Computer Science certificate

Our certificate is designed to help you develop or refresh your computer science subject knowledge.

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This course is from the National Centre for Computing Education and is delivered by STEM Learning.

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