How Computers Really Work: Outsmart Your Smartphone!

4 Nov 2016 - 25 Nov 2016

Geneva, Switzerland

Computer science for policymakers

In today’s Internet-driven age, policymakers often need to decide on Internet-related matters. Whether it concerns e-commerce, privacy, ICT for development, or cybersecurity, it is important to understand how the digital world works in order to create better digital policies.

DiploFoundation and the Geneva Internet Platform will offer a course on the fundamentals of computer science. This course will provide participants with in-depth practical understanding of the key concepts that enabled the development of computers and that are behind all the digital devices we use today (including smart phones and various connected devices). Such understanding can prove useful in developing digital policies and provides an excellent basis for deepening participants’ general knowledge of computers and applications, or for specialising in a particular aspect of the digital ecosystem.

Throughout the course, you will:

  • Learn new paradigms from computer science to better understand the Information Age
  • Develop an excellent basis for deepening your knowledge about computers
  • Develop logical thinking and applying them to daily challenges

Course format

  • 4 weekly sessions of 90 minutes each (with a short break for discussions)
  • Interactive and engaging (no death by Powerpoint – promised!) 
  • Pencil and paper exercises
  • Fun and easy homework


No previous technical knowledge required, but if you can add, subtract and multiply that will come in handy. In the end, the course will allow you to get a sense of the basic concepts that are present in all the electronic devices surrounding you, ranging from your phone to your newly bought Tesla car.

Course outline

The course will cover:

  • A brief history of robots and other ‘thinking’ machines
  • How to create some order among numbers and letters (advanced algorithms)
  • To be or not to be – introduction to binary logic
  • How are flip-flops different from flipflops?
  • What’s a CPU? The brain or the worker?
  • Why is a motherboard a motherly board?
  • How many 0s and 1s does it take to save a selfie?
  • What does an Mp3 do? And why do audiophiles still prefer vinyls?

Apply now!

For applications and further information, please write an e-mail with a short motivation to Barbara Rosen Jacobson (

The course fee is 400 CHF. A limited number of scholarships are available.

Note: This is a face-to-face course, with no possibilities for online participation.