Learning about computers to become computer literate

Computer literacy being the need of the day today implies that everyone out there, who needs a job, has to have some rudimentary knowledge of computers. Not everyone has it though and so the solution is to get educated. There are a number of easy ways to obtain the required skills:

  • Do it yourself books: There are plenty of books available which teach the basics of computers with a lot of ease. In order to get the best books look for those which are designed for adult beginners. These books usually adopt an easy jargon-free language which is easy for adults to follow. However, in order to make the best of the tutorials you will need to practice each lesson hands-on (on a computer). Be careful however to obtain time-relevant books (max 5-6 years old) since any older than that would teach you obsolete technology.
  • Built-in tutorials: Once you gather the basic ideas of a computer - such as putting it on and how to use the mouse, keyboard, etc you proceed with practicing. Most applications have in-built tutorial programs which can literally hand-hold you through the whole process of mastering it. But as any new thing it needs concentration and a lot of practice.
  • Free online tutorials: Once you are a bit comfortable with the computer you can seek online free tutorials on the Internet. There are a myriad of such packages teaching everything you will ever need to know about computers. You can seek out what you prefer to know - preferably something which is in line and enhances your career - and plug in for learning.
  • Free educational software: While you are on the Internet you can also look up free or shareware programs which practically act as your teacher right through your computer. You will have to download these programs on your computer hard disk before making use of it - hence for this step you should be really be comfortable with the Internet and downloading of files. These programs are specifically designed to point your mistakes, give you hints when you are stuck and generally enhance your skills and knowledge through your day-to-day use of computers and/or practical lessons.
  • Help files: Most applications come with inbuilt help files for troubleshooting minor and medium application problems. As you slowly become proficient with the use of computer you can start relying more and more on the help files which are quite good as well. Some application have the option of you typing your question and the computer help file self-diagnoses the problem and suggests what is the best you should do.
  • Menu guides: As the technology moves ahead, the application are more and more simplified in use and optimized in coverage of tasks it can perform for its user. These programs are called 'menu-driven programs' meaning that you can, at any step, choose what you want to do next (in case you do not know the automated command) from a drop-down menu bar. This menu bar is a boon for those who are not yet familiar with all the short-cut commands that control the windows and its applications.
  • Short-term computer classes/courses: The popularity and fast growth of computer application in industries has prompted a mushrooming industry of 'computer coaching classes' and 'computer crash courses'. Most of the computer classes are for one-three months duration and cover sufficient ground for one to feel at home computers in its wake. For those who can not use self driven techniques, a crash course is an ideal way to become computer literate.
  • Online computer courses: Many universities today offer distance learning on computer applications and by taking it up you could easily get a few extra credits as well for your college degree. Online computer courses are wonderful for two reasons: (i) you can learn from high quality teachers (people) right from your home; and (ii) you do not need to move out of your home for doing so. The fees for these programs too are quite reasonable, considering that you are earning a respectable certificate/ diploma at the end of it.
  • Get a computer coach: If all the above do not appeal to you, you can still for the oldest way in the books, i.e. personal coaching. Your coach here does not need to be a computer professional per se. He/she could be your mother, you friends, your siblings, and so on. Of course, while a family member or a friend becomes your coach, you should only remember two golden rules: (i) practice, practice, practice, practice, and (ii) have fixed hours for your practice so you can be systematic about it.
  • Be curious: The computer is a machine. Mastering it will need you to know it inside out. As with any machine, be curious about its functions and application. Develop an avid interest to learn. Without active interest and continuous practice you will never really learn computer usage.
  • All the above are feasible and tried ways to learn computers. However, one most important factors remained silent in the descriptions above and that is having a computer to practice on. Access to a computer on regular basis while you are learning is imperative to your success in mastering this machine. You need to ensure you have continuous daily access to a computer - either by buying one (new or used) or by using one in a public library or Internet cafe. In case you do not have the cash to pay for a caf? computer, try using the library computers (or other public computers) during off time. The best thing however is to have one at home - bought or leased connected with internet. In this way you can practice daily and also have continuous access to it. The easiest way to gain sufficient motivation to learn computers is by chatting or joining discussion forums where you are needed to type fast to keep up with the conversation of your friend and those in your group.
  • You also learn here to use font changing, editing and other related features.