A peripheral device is typically a device that is external to a computer and connected either wirelessly or via a cable, although some are internal to the digital system. A way of introducing students to peripheral devices is to start with a desktop computer with no other devices connected. Progressively add devices as the different user needs are introduced. Treasure hunt and ‘What am I?’ type activities can encourage students to sort and classify peripheral devices and can help reinforce understandings about them. Create task cards that require students to use specific peripheral devices to complete a task. Compare and contrast peripherals that do the same or similar job in different ways.
Flow of Activities
A computer is an example of a digital system.
A peripheral device is typically a device that is external to a computer and connected either via a wireless network or a cable.
A digital system, such as a tablet device, often has internal hardware components such as a camera, microphone and keyboard; however, on other digital systems these components might be considered peripheral devices because they need to be added to the digital system.
A keyboard is the most common input device that allows a user to enter characters (letters, numbers and symbols) and some functions.
A mouse is an input device that allows the user to select and hover over information.
A digital camera is an input peripheral that records and stores still and moving images and can transmit data wirelessly or through a cable.
An external hard drive or USB flash drive is a storage device that stores many files, photos and videos. Files can be uploaded from these drives or downloaded from the computer.
A printer is an output device that allows a user to make a paper copy of what is on the screen.
These are all devices that may be located in the classroom through a ‘digital treasure hunt’ (see below).
Peripheral devices are additional parts of a digital system designed to perform a specific function over and above what the digital system can do. For example, if sound needs to be broadcast in a large area, speakers are added to the computer. Similarly, if text on a screen needs to be annotated, a stylus can be used to input this information.
Tablet devices often contain internal hardware components such as a camera, microphone and keyboard; however, on other digital systems these components might be considered peripheral devices because they need to be added to the digital system. A tablet’s primary input is via a touchscreen. Some laptops also have touchscreen capabilities. Laptops however differ from tablet devices in that they have a physical keyboard.
Students may use tablet devices that perform multiple tasks such as recording video via internal camera and microphone, images with camera and entering text using a screen keyboard. Laptops may also have an inbuilt camera.
A Bluetooth keyboard and mouse provides portability (within a certain distance) and cross-device compatibility. There are no cords to get tangled or that confine the user to very limited distance from the computer; however, Bluetooth versions require batteries and may cost slightly more.
A tablet device is an example of a device that has inputs that are also outputs. For example, the screen can be a virtual keyboard for input of data while also displaying the data.
Tablets have devices available internally rather than externally; for example, a microphone and camera. These interact with the tablet’s software. Peripheral devices such as digital microscopes or Bluetooth speakers can be added to tablets to enhance their functionality.