Our guide to computer skills
Hotcourses Editor

Our guide to computer skills

First published date November 07 2013 Amended date November 07 2013

Computers are everywhere. They effectively run manufacturing and service companies all over the world, with irreplaceable roles in the media and workplace. They underpin modern teaching and school work, and their social aspects are embraced by everyone from children to pensioners. Computers govern much of our health service and emergency services, they handle numerous methods of 21st century communications, and they have become as common in our pockets as they are in our homes and offices.


For anyone who is yet to embrace this rapidly changing world of technology, it is never too late to consider a computer skills course. Because computers have become central to modern society, their presence is all around us, and being computer illiterate in the modern age is a major handicap. Moreover, this situation is only going to worsen as each year passes, with computers becoming increasingly central to our daily lives.


Learn new skills

Computer skills courses come in numerous forms. At one end of the spectrum, they can offer complete beginners’ guidance in the simplest aspects of computer operations, from turning a PC on and off through to surfing the Internet or printing off documents. Meanwhile, more advanced courses will move into comparatively complex areas like sending and receiving emails, making online purchases and installing peripherals – external pieces of equipment like printers or scanners that enable computers to perform specific tasks.


Easy as 1, 10, 11

Although a computer skills course can seem like an intimidating prospect, each one will break everything down into straightforward, bite-sized chunks, allowing even nervous students to make steady progress. Novices are often afraid of pressing the wrong button and breaking a computer, or simply being unable to understand a new electronic world, so lessons are designed to build confidence quickly while teaching the basics. Once people begin to discover the incredible things computers can do, initially daunting tasks like using a keyboard and mouse will become almost second nature, while computing itself can be a source of endless fascination and entertainment.


On course for success

One of the most wonderful things about computers is that there is always something new to learn, or something else they can accomplish. As a result, people who study a basic computer skills will often want to progress onto more advanced subjects almost immediately afterwards. Perhaps a typing or word processing course would be useful, showcasing how much easier it is to write letters and documents on a computer, as opposed to an old typewriter. HTML courses are very popular, providing a detailed look at the Internet, which has had a seismic effect on the world and its citizens. Indeed, there are thousands of different computing courses on offer throughout the UK, which go into much more detail on the world of computers with many acting as training for the IT workplace.


Things you can do with computers

Many people have never had the time or opportunity to become a regular computer user before. These are just a few of the things that can be accomplished with a little teaching and training:

·         Go shopping from your armchair. Almost every company and retailer in the UK has some sort of Internet presence, and many firms are exclusively found online. Huge e-retailers like Amazon sell pretty much everything you could ever want, and website retailers deliver their products directly to your door from around the world, with a range and diversity of goods that the high street couldn’t dream of offering.

·         Communicate with people. Phone calls and letters are increasingly being replaced by emails (electronic letters that arrive instantly) and social media, where you can talk to people in real time. Even conventional communication methods have evolved – video phone calls are now commonplace (and free) through packages like Skype, while message boards enable an unprecedented amount of information sharing and advice.

·         Augment your knowledge. The Internet is effectively a vast global library, with search engines like Google and Bing acting as librarians. Ask them a question, and they will give you as much information as you could wish for on any subject imaginable. These results prioritise the most relevant answers to the top of each list, and it is truly astonishing how much information is online, even covering obscure hobbies or topics.

·         Become more professional. Every workplace relies on computers to some extent, and learning how to type a letter or set up a basic finance spreadsheet will impart skills that are equally useful in the office and at home. You don’t need to be a computer expert to send or receive emails – far from it – but email has become the dominant method of modern communication.

·         Revolutionise leisure time. Whether you’re an amateur historian, a fan of puzzle games, or keen on reading newspapers, the Internet brings all these subjects (and their enthusiastic followers) together. There are millions of places where people can discuss their interests, share knowledge or play games together, and it takes a bare minimum of computing knowledge to access this vast, endlessly absorbing world.


By Neil Cumins


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