Most colleges and schools today encourage a computer to assist the student in course study and for the preparation and presentation of papers. If you are a complete novice when it comes to using a computer the very first step is learning the operating system. The operating system is what makes the computer work for you and manages the creation, archiving and retrieval of data files. Computers today use a windows based operating system which utilizes a point and click method to initiate an action on the computer. It is absolutely essential that you know the ins and outs of the operating system. It would be helpful to learn the terms used in the description of the operating system e.g. desktop, icon, drop down menu, etc.
Once you have mastered the operating system then you are ready to learn the application programs. The primary applications are word processing, email, spreadsheet and Internet Browser. Other applications may be necessary but may be dependant upon the course of study the student is pursuing.
A word processing program allows you to create papers and other text based documents. Once you have created the document it can be saved and archived until you choose to delete it from the computers hard drive. Without getting technical you can just think of your hard drive as a large file cabinet that is controlled and manipulated through the operating system. The files can be retrieved later for additional editing or printing. Under normal operating conditions the word processing document that was created can be stored indefinitely until it is deleted by the computer user.
E-mail is the most used application when it comes to computer usage. Most likely any school you attend will assign you an e-mail address that will be used by the school to communicate with you. Having an e-mail address will allow you to communicate with the school administration, faculty and other students. E-mail can be used to transport files created by other application programs as an attachment to the e-mail. These files can be of any file format e.g. text, charts, photographs, etc.
A spreadsheet program allows you to manipulate numeric data. It can be used to perform calculations on numeric data and present that data in the format as a representative chart of that data. Most people equate spreadsheets with accounting or bookkeeping but it can be used for any numeric data including scientific data. Having a working knowledge on how to input data, perform mathematical manipulation of the data and the presentation of the results gathered from the data is useful in many courses.
An Internet browser allows you to navigate through the many websites and web pages found on the Internet. It is a great resource for performing research on any subject. There are many search engine sites that will find information by name, keyword or phrase. For gathering information a browser is an invaluable tool. It is primarily a point and click application so it is very easy to learn and the benefits it can provide are immediately evident.
If a student can acquire these basic computer skills prior to starting school they will be able to concentrate on the course material and not worry about how they are going to get anything useful from the computer. In today’s society a computer is becoming an essential tool for communications, gathering information and the manipulation of data. The newly learned computer skills have long term benefits well beyond school.