Data Handling Applications

 1.  Describe Surveys

If a small business is interested in finding out information about the buying habits of a number of customers, then questionnaires/surveys would either be handed out to people or would be posted on a website to allow them to filled it online. Paper questionnaires will be filled in either by ticking/shading in boxes, by connecting two points or by filling in ellipses/circles to select the correct response.

Online questionnaires tend to use radio buttons, since this is a quick and easy method for gathering data.

However, paper surveys have to be scanned in using OMR or OCR methods and the information is transferred to a database.  The advantages of doing this rather than checking each one by hand are:

  • fewer errors
  • easier to do a statistical analysis and less expensive (need fewer people)
  • faster to get results.

Online questionnaires have the added advantage that no data preparation is needed at all; the results would be sent directly to a database for analysis.

2.  Describe Address Lists

Computers, mobile phones and tablets are all used to store information such as people’s home addresses, phone numbers, email addresses or personal data such as date of birth.

Majority of address book applications have features that help the user organise their records into various groupings, such as:

  • family
  • friends
  • work colleagues

The user can search by name, grouping, address and so on.  Many address book applications also allow synchronisation with tablets and mobile phones.  So it is possible to change the data on one system but ensure all devices are kept up to date.  As soon as the computer is linked to a tablet or mobile phone then both linked devices will be updated with the latest information.

 3.  Describe the data handling applications of Clubs and Society Records

Clubs and societies often keep records of their membership which would typically include, membership number, name, payment details, personal details (like phone number, address), their interests, etc.  A simple database could easily hold all this information making it unnecessary to keep paper records.  Consequently, if a particular item of interest (e.g., a talk of Chess) came up then the computer system could quickly scan all the records on file and find out who would be interested in this topic.  They could then automatically contact the member by email or using mail merge, send out a letter and flyer.

It would also be easy to check on membership subscriptions and send out reminders.  This also saves having paper records which are time-consuming to search and in which details are easy to miss), are easy to lose or misfile and are more expensive (cost of paper plus filing, etc) and it also saves on space in the office area.

Mail merge is used to find the names and addresses of club members so that reminders can be sent out automatically.  The names and addresses would most likely be stored on a database.

Record Keeping

To evaluate the advantages of using a computer system for record keeping, consider a small bookshop.  This shop keeps files on the books in stock and on their customer base.  This information could be kept in an electronic form in a simple database.  This would make it easy to contact customers if a particular book has just been published or to check on their buying habits.  If a customer comes into the shop it would also make it easier to search for a particular book (based on title, author or ISBN).  All this leads to several advantages to the shop:

  • there would be fewer errors since no manual checking of paper files would need to be done
  • it would be quicker and easier to  find details of a particular book or find out whether or not it is in stock
  • the system would be less expensive since it wouldn’t be necessary to employ somebody to do all the filing and searching
  • less office space would be required in the shop since no paper records would need to be kept.

There are however some disadvantages like any other system.  They are namely:

  • time and effort would be required initially to transfer all the existing paper files to a database
  • there would be a need to buy a computer and software to run the system.

4.   Describe School reports can be computerised

Computers can be used to keep data on the academic performance of all the students in a school.  A database would usually be used to do this.  The school could then easily track how well the students were performing over the academic year.  The database could be used to produce a printed copy of the student’s progress in the form of a report.

This would be considerably easier and quicker than writing out a report for each student at the end of the term or year.

A typical database for this application might contain the following fields:

Table 1
StudentID (the student’s idenfification number)
StudName (the name of the student)
TutorGroup (which tutor group the student belongs to)
Term1Grades (the student’s grades for the first term)
Term1Attend (the student’s attendance for the first term)
Term1Notes (this may contain teacher notes about the student’s performance)

There may be tables for term 2 and term 3 so that the database contains all the data for the students over the full academic year.

The majority of databases allow the teachers to produce professional-looking reports by carrying out a series of queries.  Headed notepaper with the school’s name (and possibly logo) will also enhance the appearance of the report.

Mail merge can be used to find the names and addresses of parents so that reports can be sent out automatically.  The names and addresses would most likely be stored in a separate table.

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