Distance Learner’s Checklist: How Sharp are your Computer Skills?
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Distance learners need to be computer savvy if they're going to succeed in their pursuit of an online degree. Are your computer skills good enough to learn online? Compare your computer know-how with the following list of essential skills to see how well prepared you are for an online degree.
The most obvious skill, perhaps, is a good understanding of how to navigate the Internet. You'll need to know how to open an Internet browser, how to maximize and minimize the browser window, and how to use the forward and back buttons to move back and forth between Web pages. Major browsers like Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox have extensive Help files where you can find answers to all of your questions about Internet navigation.
Second, make sure you know how to manage files on your computer. Make sure you can use Windows Explorer to find folders and files on your computer's hard drive. Practice creating, copying, deleting and saving files until you're sure you know how. If you're in doubt about your skills, select "Help" from the Windows Explorer menu bar and then search for information about "files".
If you don't know how to Copy and Paste, learn. Mastery of these basic Clipboard functions will save you tons of time when working online. These basic skills include the ability to left click and drag to highlight information in a document, to copy that information to the clipboard, and then to paste that information from the clipboard into a new document or spreadsheet. If you don't feel confident about copy-and-paste, search for a free copy-and-paste tutorial on any of the major search engines.
You'll also need to be thoroughly familiar with sending and receiving email. Make sure you know how to open and save email attachments, as you'll receive much of your course material and other work by email. Your email program will have a section in its Help file that can answer any questions you have about email and how to handle email attachments.
Finally, as an online learner you'll need to know your way around some kind of word processing software. Microsoft Word is considered the standard here and most new computers come with Word already installed. If your computer didn't come with Word, it won't cost you a dime to get a very capable alternative. Consider downloading OpenOffice from openoffice.org. OpenOffice is a free, easy to use software suite that includes a powerful word processor called OpenOffice Writer. It offers all the functionality of Word, including the ability to open and create files in Microsoft Word format.
Even if all of your online learning skills have been carefully honed, don't forget to check your computer system to make sure it can participate in the online learning experience. In most cases, you'll want a computer running Windows XP or MAC OS 9 or higher. Also, almost all online universities recommend Internet Explorer or Firefox, adding they've found that AOL users often cannot properly access online courses. You'll also want to have a minimum monitor resolution of 800 x 600 and a DSL or cable modem for best performance. Finally, say leading online institutions, you'll want to enable java script and cookies to optimize the learning experience.
About the Author:Matt Paolini works from home as a distance learner. Visit University of Phoenix or University of Pheonix for free distance learning info.
Food for your mind ;)