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  5. Information Processes and Technology Stage 6 Syllabus
  6. 9.3 Communication Systems
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9 Content: Information Processes and Technology HSC Course

9.3 Communication Systems

When participants within the information system have a need to transmit and receive data or information, the type of system required is a communication system. Communication systems support people who are working together, by enabling the exchange of data and information electronically. In this topic, the information processes of transmitting and receiving are featured, with the other processes considered when relevant because all information processes play a role in communication systems.


A student:

  • H1.1 applies and explains an understanding of the nature and function of information technologies to a specific practical situation
  • H1.2 explains and justifies the way in which information systems relate to information processes in a specific context
  • H2.1 analyses and describes a system in terms of the information processes involved
  • H2.2 develops and explains solutions for an identified need which address all of the information processes
  • H3.1 evaluates and discusses the effect of information systems on the individual, society and the environment
  • H3.2 demonstrates and explains ethical practice in the use of information systems, technologies and processes
  • H4.1 proposes and justifies ways in which information systems will meet emerging needs
  • H5.1 justifies the selection and use of appropriate resources and tools to effectively develop and manage projects
  • H5.2 assesses the ethical implications of selecting and using specific resources and tools, recommends and justifies the choices
  • H6.1 analyses situations, identifies needs, proposes and then develops solutions
  • H6.2 selects, justifies and applies a methodical approach to planning, designing or implementing a solution
  • H7.1 implements and explains effective management techniques
  • H7.2 uses methods to thoroughly document the development of individual and team projects.
Rounded Rectangular Callout: Additional outcomes relating to project work have been included in this topic to allow project work to be assessed as an integral part of this topic. Note: If teachers choose not to undertake a project as part of this topic then these outcomes would not be assessed here. These additional outcomes now appear in all HSC core topics and all HSC option topics.
Students learn about: Students learn to:

characteristics of communication systems

  • communication systems as being those systems which enable users to send and receive data and information
  • the framework in which communication systems function, demonstrated by the following model
  • the functions performed within the communication systems in passing messages between source and destination, including:
    • message creation
    • organisation of packets at the interface between source and transmitter
    • signal generation by the transmitter
    • transmission
    • synchronising the exchange
    • addressing and routing
    • error detection and correction
    • security and management
  • the roles of protocols in communication
    • handshaking and its importance in a communications link
    • functions performed by protocols at different levels
  • the client–server model
    • the role of the client and the server
    • thin clients and fat clients
    • examples of clients such as web browsers and mail clients
    • examples of servers such as print servers, mail servers and web server
  • use applications to create and transmit messages
  • establish a communications link and describe the steps that take place in its establishment
  • Rounded Rectangular Callout: The ‘communication systems' topic has been totally restructured from the bottom up to provide a more cohesive unit of work. The topic now provides a framework under which a variety of communication systems can be studied. Additional dot points have been added to establish this framework concept but, apart from that, the topic includes much the same content as before. Dot points have been expanded to indicate the depth to which a concept is treated.
  • identify and describe specified protocols at different stages of the communication
  • identify client processing and server processing
  • describe the advantages and disadvantages of client–server architecture

examples of communication systems

  • other systems dependent on communication technology such as:
    • e-commerce
    • EFTPOS
    • electronic banking
  • use a communication system to transmit and receive audio, video and text data
  • for given examples, identify the participants, information/data, information technology, need and purpose
  • for given examples explain how data is transmitted and received
  • for given examples, identify the advantages and disadvantages of the system

transmitting and receiving in communication systems

  • transmission media, including:
  • characteristics of media in terms of speed, capacity, cost and security
  • communication protocols, including:
    • application level protocols
      • http
      • smtp
      • SSL
    • communication control and addressing level protocols
      • TCP
      • IP
    • transmission level protocols
      • Ethernet
      • Token ring
  • strategies for error detection and error correction
  • network topologies, including:
    • star
    • bus
    • ring
    • hybrid
    • wireless networks
  • the functions performed by the following hardware components used in communication systems
    (See Course Specifications Document)
  • characteristics of network operating software
  • similarities and difference between the Internet, intranets and extranets
  • compare and contrast traditional communication systems with current electronic methods
  • represent a communication system diagrammatically
  • predict developments in communication systems based on current trends
  • simulate activities involved with communication in areas such as:
    • e-commerce
    • EFTPOS
    • Internet banking
  • for a given scenario, choose and justify the most appropriate transmission media
  • diagrammatically represent the topology
  • describe the location and role of hardware components on the network
  • compare the functions of different hardware components
  • identify the main characteristics of network operating software
  • compare and contrast the Internet, intranets and extranets

other information processes in communication systems

  • collecting, such as:
    • the phone as the collection device with voice mail
    • EFTPOS terminal as a collection device for electronic banking
  • processing, including:
    • encoding and decoding analog and digital signals
    • formation of data packets
    • routing
    • encryption and decryption
    • error checking
      • parity bit check
      • check sum
      • cyclic redundancy check (CRC)
  • displaying, such as
    • the phone as the display device with voice mail
    • EFTPOS terminal as a display device for electronic banking
  • distinguish between data in analog and digital form
  • justify the need to encode and decode data
  • identify where in a communication system signal conversion takes place
  • describe the structure of a data packet
  • describe methods to check the accuracy of data being transmitted

managing communication systems

  • network administration tasks, such as:
    • adding/removing users
    • assigning users to printers
    • giving users file access rights
    • installation of software and sharing with users
    • client installation and protocol assignment
    • logon and logoff procedures
    • network-based applications


  • detail the network management software in a given network
  • describe the role of the network administrator and conduct network administration tasks
  • demonstrate logon and logoff procedures, and justify their use
  • adopt procedures to manage electronic mail

issues related to communication systems

  • security
  • globalisation
  • changing nature of work
  • interpersonal relationships
  • e-crime
  • legal
  • virtual communities
  • Rounded Rectangular Callout: New issues relating to the use of communication systems have been introduced. Issues are best dealt with in association with the examples provided.
  • current and emerging trends in communications
    (See Course Specifications Document)
  • describe and justify the need for ethical behaviour when using the Internet
  • discuss the social and ethical issues that have arisen from use of the Internet, including:
    • the availability of material normally restricte
    • electronic commerce
    • domination of content and control of access to the Internet
    • the changing nature of social interactions
  • identify the issues associated with the use of communication systems, including:
    • teleconferencing systems
    • messaging systems
    • e-commerce
    • EFTPOS
    • electronic banking
  • design and implement a communication system to meet an individual need
  • predict developments in communication systems based on current trends
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