Module 4: Data and Databases

Getting Started
  1. Review the module introduction and outcomes to help you gain an understanding of the main topics and expectations.
  2. Work through each lesson in this module and complete the Check Your Knowledge activity.
  3. You can take notes on each lesson by clicking on the “take notes” tab on the bottom right of your screen. You can take notes for each lesson and they will appear on your dashboard. Make sure you save your notes before continuing to another lesson or quiz.

Note: If you would like to learn more about this module’s topics, click the Module Toolbox or Module Glossary for additional and supplementary resources.

The previous modules addressed the first two major components of information systems – the hardware and software. Though the hardware and software cost more, what is truly unique and important about an information system is the data. Having great software to create or play music is useless unless the system can create and store music files.  

Data refers to raw unprocessed bits of content. Information is data that has been contextualized.  Data can be quantitative or qualitative. Quantitative data is numeric: the result of a measurement, count, or some other mathematical calculation. Qualitative data is descriptive.

Almost anything that you actually do on a computer requires data. When you write a paper, you are working with data. This data can be created, changed, copied, and saved. There are a few basic categories of data that are stored by electronic methods including text, images, audio, and video.

This module introduces the importance of data, and how data is structured and stored in information systems. The lessons will address the physical structure of data; for example, how it is stored in terms of hardware and in terms of file formats. We will look at the types of data that are stored in information systems including websites and databases.

As you start through these lessons, think about the data that you use and produce every day. How much of it do you control? How much of it is gathered about you in your daily life?  

After completing this Module, you should be able to:

  • Explain the uses of data as a resource for individuals and organizations.
  • Define common data structures and how they affect the functionality of a database.
  • Identify the important features of Database Management Systems and list some common examples.
  • Outline how data and systems interact to create and store new data and information.

Lesson 1 – Data as a Resource

AJAX progress indicator
  • Cloud
    the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer
  • data
    the raw, unprocessed bits of facts and figures that make up information
  • information
    facts and figures arranged with context to provide usable data

Lesson 2 – Data Structures

AJAX progress indicator
  • data
    the raw, unprocessed bits of facts and figures that make up information
  • database
    an organized collection of data that is stored, organized, and accessed electronically
  • information
    facts and figures arranged with context to provide usable data

Lesson 3 – Database Management Systems

AJAX progress indicator
  • data
    the raw, unprocessed bits of facts and figures that make up information
  • database
    an organized collection of data that is stored, organized, and accessed electronically
  • database management system
    a piece of computer software, or a suite of software, designed to manage a database
  • information
    facts and figures arranged with context to provide usable data

Lesson 4 – Data Warehousing

AJAX progress indicator
  • data
    the raw unprocessed bits and pieces — the fact and figures — which make up information
  • data warehouse
    a database that can connect to, and pull from, multiple traditional databases and then integrate all their data into much larger and more complex queries
  • database
    an organized collection of data that is stored, organized, and accessed electronically