After working on computers for a number of years, sometimes we might think of ourselves as “computer literate” but this is not always the case. there are a number of skills that are are most important for us to know to be considered computer literate. If you already know these, you should be helping others learn them as well!
1: Search engines
Using a search engine is more than typing in the address, putting a couple of keywords into the big text box, clicking Search, and choosing the first result. While that may work, it won’t give you the best results much of the time. Learning the advanced search and how to discern good results from bad results goes a long way toward enabling you to use a computer as a powerful research tool.
2: Word processing
Word processing is one of the oldest uses for a computer. And it continues to be extremely important, even though in many ways its functions have been put into other applications. (For example, people may write more emails than documents, but the task is nearly identical.) It is tough to claim to be computer literate if the basic functions of word processing — like spell check, table creation, and working with headers — are outside your capabilities.
Spreadsheets were the killer application that got a lot of people willing to pony up big bucks for a PC in the early 1980s. Spreadsheets offer incredibly powerful analysis possibilities… if you know how to use them for more than storing the holiday card address list. (Okay, I use Excel for that too.) Being able to use formulas, references, and macros can turn a “grid of numbers” into actionable information in the hands
of the right person.
4: Browser basics
It is almost painful to watch some “computer savvy” people operate a Web browser. The most obvious goof is going to a search engine to type in the address of the site they want to go to. But folks are unaware of a lot of other things they do that make the Internet more difficult than it needs to be. Mastering techniques like opening links in new windows, using bookmarks, editing URLs to perform navigation, clearing the browser
cache, and understanding common error messages will give you access to a world of unlimited information instead of keeping you stuck with only what Web site designers make obvious.
5: Virus/malware scanning
Much of typical computer maintenance is automated or unneeded at this point, but it is still essential to
understand how to check a system for nasty bugs, spyware, and other malicious applications. While the scanning tools come with real-time monitors, something can still slip onto the system before the scanner has the right filter for it. So it’s critical to know how to trigger a manual virus/malware scan, as well as how to use alternative systems, spot signs of an infection, and other similar tasks.