spacer
itrainonline logo  
Recursos en español
Ressources en français
Other languages
spacer
Sharing Internet Knowledge      
learn about spacer
spacer BASIC SKILLS spacer
spacer spacer
  Computer Basics spacer
spacer spacer
spacer
  Office Productivity Software spacer
spacer spacer
spacer
  Internet and E-mail Basics spacer
spacer spacer
spacer
  Finding Information Online spacer
spacer spacer
spacer
spacer
arrow STRATEGIC USE spacer
spacer spacer
spacer
arrow WEB DEVELOPMENT spacer
spacer spacer
spacer
arrow MULTIMEDIA spacer
spacer spacer
spacer
arrow TECHNICAL spacer
spacer spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer
arrow RESOURCES FOR TRAINERS spacer
spacer spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer
arrow RESOURCES FOR WOMEN spacer
spacer spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer SEARCH ITRAINONLINE spacer
spacer spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer SITEMAP spacer
spacer spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer CALENDAR spacer
spacer spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer GLOSSARY OF TERMS spacer
spacer spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer ABOUT ITRAINONLINE spacer
spacer spacer
spacer
spacer

 

 

spacer
Home > Basic Skills > Computer Basics

Computer Basics

Section editor
APC
mmtk@apc.org

Introduction

The computer is a versatile and powerful tool for you and your organization. It enables you to work more effectively and to communicate with people around the world.

A computer is a machine that receives, processes, and stores information electronically. Computers can pass information to each other in the same way that telephones do. Because computers do so many things, it's important to keep in mind that this is a tool to help you do what you want.

Some of the things computers can enable you to do include:

  • creating documents
  • accounting and calculating
  • sending and receiving e-mail messages
  • finding information
  • publishing information

In the Computer Basics section we provide information on how to set up and maintain your computer, how to use common office productivity tools, and how to avoid injury and fatigue while using a computer. Don't be afraid to get to know your computer inside and out! Once you get started you'll wonder how you ever got along without it.

Basic Computer Skills

ITrain Computer Handbook

Developed by: Bellanet
Type of resource: Word Document
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Handbook on using Windows, plus general advice (including basic information on viruses) and a glossary of terms.

DLink to resource


Catskills Tech Training Camp

Developed by: Cat@lyst (community activist technology)
Type of resource: Web site
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Agenda and classnotes for workshops on: the Internet, computers, web design and development,
programming, databases, Linux and lots more.

DLink to resource


Computer Hope

Developed by: Computer Hope
Type of resource: Web site
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Computer Hope is a database of extensive information on software, hardware, and peripherals such as printers, organized by product name. Information includes installation instructions, troubleshooting, product information, buying tips, third party computer company information.

DLink to resource


Help Guide for MS Windows

Developed by: Giles Edkins
Type of resource: Beginner's Guide
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

This small web site by Giles Edkins is based on his personal experience and is aimed at true beginners, helping them get started exploring the computer keyboard, Microsoft Windows and its standard accessories such as Notepad, Paint, and Calculator.

DLink to resource


Living without Microsoft

Developed by: John Naughton and Quentin Stafford-Fraser
Type of resource: Web site
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

This site is for those who, for whatever reason, wish to explore realistic alternatives to using Microsoft software. It provides analyses of various software packages which are as objective as possible and discusses the benefits and problems you are likely to encounter. Not Anti-Gates pro-Linux, just alternatives.

DLink to resource


UNESCO Free Software Portal

Developed by: UNESCO
Type of resource: Portal
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

The UNESCO Free Software Portal gives access to documents and websites which are refences for the Free Software/Open Source Technology movement. It is also a gateway to software for Communication, Programming, Digital Library, Operating System, Productivity Tools, Science & Education.

DLink to resource


Computer Basics - General

Dave's Guide to Buying a Home Computer

Developed by: Dave Kraus, Michigan State University
Type of resource: Web guide
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Extensive guide covering basic questions to ask yourself before buying a computer; operating systems and software; hardware; Internet connectivity; and configuration requirements. Assumes good general understanding of computers.

DLink to resource


Dave's Guide to Buying a Used Computer

Developed by: Dave Kraus, Michigan State University
Type of resource: Web article
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Overview of things to take into account when buying a used computer.

DLink to resource


7 Tips to Managing your Files Better

Developed by: Microsoft Support
Type of resource: website
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Simple tips for file management in Microsoft Windows, such as keeping document files separate from programme files, using thumbnail images for easy file identification, and storing similar file types in the same places to facilitate easy access.

DLink to resource


A Guide to Troubleshooting PCs

Developed by: Dirk Slater
Type of resource: Web guide
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

"Since computers have so many different functions and so many different elements working together on the same system (software, peripherals, etc.) the potential for problems is quite high. Programs can stop running properly, or even worse, the computer itself can fail to even start. If you are the person with the job of looking after the organisation's PCs and IT infrastructure, then this article should help."

DLink to resource


A Simple Guide to Buying a Computer

Developed by: Techsoup
Type of resource: Article
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

If you have been entrusted with making the hardware purchases at your organization, there can be a lot of pressure to avoid mistakes. While the pressure may be great, you can keep from being buried by following some simple guidelines as you make the purchases.

DLink to resource


An Introduction to Personal Computing

Developed by: University of Durham
Type of resource: PDF file
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Guide aimed at people with little or no experience of computing which "describes the parts of a computer, explains how information is stored on a computer and what steps you should take to safeguard your computer-based information." Although written for users at the University of Durham it is useful for new computer users more generally.

DLink to resource


Backing up your data

Developed by: One NorthWest
Type of resource: Web guide
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

This document outlines the hardware, software and procedures necessary to effectively and efficiently back up the key data from your computers. It includes hardware recommendations, software recommendations, and suggested tips on what specific items on your hard drive you most need to back up.

DLink to resource


Buying a Printer

Developed by: Lasa Information Systems
Type of resource: Web article
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

"Every organisation needs at least one printer. However, with massive choice spanning a wide range of options, how do you find your way to the right printer for the job?" This article by the Lasa Information Systems team will hekp you make an informed choice.

DLink to resource


Computer starting or running slowly?

Developed by: Lasa Information Systems Team
Type of resource: Web guide
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

"When you first acquired your shiny new PC or laptop you couldn’t believe how quick it was compared to your old one. The desktop appeared as if by magic and files opened at lightning speed. Then, over time, you realised that it was starting to take rather longer than it used to..." This article from the Lasa Information Systems Team looks at why this happens and links to resources to help you deal with it.

DLink to resource


Copernic Desktop Search

Developed by: Copernic
Type of resource: downloadable program
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

As we have increased amounts and varietes of data on our computers, finding files becomes more difficult. Now there are many different "desktop search" utilities that can be downloaded for free. Copernic Desktop Search can be incorporated into a Window's desktop and can search all types of files, including music, picture and video formats, as well as common office suite files, all email, recently visited web pages, favorites listings, etc. Available in English, French, German, and Dutch.

DLink to resource


Digital Directions: Organise Your PC Files

Developed by: New Jersey City University
Type of resource: PDF
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

This simple document, though prepared in 2000, still gives good advice for basic document management in a PC setting. http://www.njcu.edu/dept/its/support/pdfs/Organize_Your_PC_Files.pdf

DLink to resource


Editor's choice: Video: Computer Hardware in Plain English

Developed by: Common Craft
Type of resource: online video
Target audience: General, Trainers
Cost: Free access

A short online video which explains of the basic parts of computers and what they do to make computers work. The video focuses on the Hard Drive, RAM and Processor. Very good video to show in Basic ICT training activities.

DLink to resource


Eleven Tips for Troubleshooting Software: Things to do before you call a tech-support hotline

Developed by: TechSoup
Type of resource: Web articles
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

"Your computer software — be it a Web browser or a donor database application — likely plays a crucial role in your nonprofit's day-to-day operations. So when software problems such as unexplained crashes and strange error messages begin to occur, your workday can unceremoniously come to a silent (or not-so-silent) standstill." TechSoup looks at some solutions.

DLink to resource


Freezes and crashes

Developed by: Rutgers University
Type of resource: Web guide
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Simple explanation of computer "freezes" and "crashes" and what you can do about them.

DLink to resource


Glossary of Computer Term Definitions

Developed by: Sharpened.net
Type of resource: web site
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Sharpened.net - Your Free Computer and Internet Resource offers an excellent, comprehensive listing of computer terms, with easy-to-grasp explanations.

DLink to resource


Helping others to help you — effectively communicating your ICT problems

Developed by: Lasa Information Systems Team
Type of resource: Web guide
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Getting the most out of your technical support requires explaining the problem in clear terms. The Lasa Information Systems Team shows you what to look for and how to communicate your problems effectively.

DLink to resource


How do I use a scanner?

Developed by: BBC Webwise
Type of resource: Web article
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

The absolute basics of scanner use.

DLink to resource


How to Back up Data

Developed by: CompuMentor
Type of resource: Article
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

How effective would you be if your email, word processing documents and contact database were wiped out? How many hours would it take to rebuild that information from scratch? Backing up your data regularly is vital insurance against a "data catastrophe." This article by CompuMentor explains how to protect your data and improve the performance of your computer.

DLink to resource


How to Migrate to a New PC

Developed by: John Clyman, PC Magazine
Type of resource: website
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

This article explores three programmes for migrating vital computer information (ie address books, documents, e-mail, photos, links to preferred sites, specialised applications, etc.) to a new computer. It suggests thoughtful steps for planning a migration before launching into the how-tos of migration for two for-purchase specialty applications (Alohabob and Desktop DNA) as well as the Windows XP migration tool.

DLink to resource


Instant Reference Guide to Creating DVDs and CDs

Developed by: Melissa J. Perenson, PC World
Type of resource: website
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

A guide to the burning process for DVDs and CDs. It covers the basics of burning, including write speeds, drag and drop data, multi-sessions, and data verification. It also highlights "CD quirks" and how to copy VHS to DVD.

DLink to resource


Internet Fraud Tips

Developed by: US National Consumer's League
Type of resource: Web site
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

You received an email from Nigeria or another country with an offer of millions of dollars - beware! Criminals and con artists are using new media to carry out old scams and schemes. This site describes how to recognize Internet scams and frauds and what to do about them.

DLink to resource


Jamani's Guide to Computers Part I: Basic Knowledge and Skills

Developed by: Jamani
Type of resource: PDF file
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Simple and easy to use manuals on basic computer use for persons without computer experience: Part I: Basic Knowledge and Skills.

DLink to resource


Listing Folder Contents in an MS Word File

Developed by: PC Magazine
Type of resource: website
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

These easy instructions are useful for creating an editable index or listing of the files on your computer.

DLink to resource


Low-Power Computing

Developed by: IT +46
Type of resource: Downloadable PDF
Target audience: General, Trainers
Cost: Free access

A report/handout that discusses the requirements for the usage of a low power computers in rural environments, in hot and dusty locations, and powered to a solar backup system. The report lists some of the existing low power computing alternatives, and compares them with respect to different criteria, and draws conclusions about effective computing solutions for rural areas.

DLink to resource


MainTain IT Cookbook: Small and Rural Libraries

Developed by: The MaintainIT Project
Type of resource: Downloadable PDF
Target audience: General, Trainers, Information intermediaries
Cost: Free access

This Cookbook covers fundamentals that are valuable for any library, and is a great resource for someone wanting to know a bit more about supporting and sustaining public computers. Learn about locking down public computers, use a handy maintenance checklist, and more! These topics are covered: technology Planning, Computer Maintenance, Volunteer Recruitment, Technology Training Tips, Library Technology in the Future

DLink to resource


MMTK Using Older and Refurbished Computers Unit

Developed by: APC & Bridges.org
Type of resource: MS Word files
Target audience: General, Trainers
Cost: Free access

This workshop kit offers materials which trainers can use as the basis of face-to-face workshop. The handout will be of value to anyone wanting to learn about using older and refurbished computers.

DLink to resource


OpenICDL

Developed by: Go-Open Campaign / ICDL Foundation Africa
Type of resource: Web site
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

"OpenICDL is an open source project that aims to develop and maintain a Free/Open Source version of the training materials used to ready students for the International Computer Driving License certification.\" Materials cover Basic Concepts of IT, Using a Computer and Managing Files (K Desktop Environment), Word Processing (OpenOffice.org Writer), Spreadsheets (OpenOffice.org Calc), Databases (OpenOffice DB), Presentations (OpenOffice.org Impress) and Information and Communications (Mozilla 1.4 and Ximian Evolution 1.4). Materials are available in HTML and PDF versions.

DLink to resource


Peter's Online Typing Course

Developed by: Peter Hudson
Type of resource: Web course (uses Macromedia Flash)
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

"By the time you finish this course, you will be able to confidently type all the letters, numbers and the most common symbols, with proper ten-finger touch typing technique."

DLink to resource


Windows Vista: An FAQ for Nonprofits

Developed by: TechSoup
Type of resource: Web article
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

"Windows Vista, Microsoft's first new major operating system (OS) since the launch of the Windows XP line in 2001, is due to hit stores on January 30. Vista's launch has already generated some questions about upgrading, new features, tech support, and whether now is a good time to migrate your computers to this new OS." To help you make informed decisions about Vista, TechSoup has answered some questions which they think nonprofits will be most concerned with.

DLink to resource


Writing CDs with Nero Burning ROM

Developed by: MMTK
Type of resource: MS Word files
Target audience: General, Trainers
Cost: Free access

This workshop kit for trainers covers basic CD writing skills using Nero Burning ROM software. Part of the Multimedia Training Kit.

DLink to resource


Editor's choice: Information as an Organisational Asset

Developed by: Summit Collaborative
Type of resource: web site
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

This article outlines the impact of disorganised information in any initiative, the benefits of seeing information as an asset, and gives pointers to becoming an "information leader" to ensure procedures and staff information management training.

DLink to resource


Computer Basics - Using computers safely (Ergonomics)

An Introduction to Ergonomics

Developed by: Techsoup.org
Type of resource: Web article
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

This article by Susan Tenby looks at posture guidelines and how to avoid repetitive strain injury and eyestrain.

DLink to resource


Computer Ergonomics for Elementary School

Developed by: Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (USA)
Type of resource: Web site
Target audience: General, Trainers
Cost: Free access

This site will show you some simple and affordable ways to make sure that your body is safe and comfortable while using a computer. Schools and telecentres usually can't afford specialized tables and chairs, and this site explains how to set up of computer workstations using ordinary furniture. A printable poster demonstrates the proper posture for working at a computer. The information is directed at computer use by children, but the information is just as true for adults who spend long periods of time at the computer.

DLink to resource


How to sit at a computer

Developed by: Ergonomics in Australia
Type of resource: Online tip sheet
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Four steps to setting up your computer workstation for comfortable computing.

DLink to resource


HP Safety and Comfort Guide

Developed by: Hewlitt Packard
Type of resource: PDF file
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

This 58-page booklet describes proper workstation setup, posture, and health and work habits for computer users. Available in many languages.

DLink to resource


It hurts right here . . .

Developed by: Mark Dohrmann
Type of resource: Online tip sheet.
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Tips for making your workspace more comfortable and relieving aches and pains.

DLink to resource


Mouse Ergonomics

Developed by: Charles H. Booras
Type of resource: http://jaxmed.com/articles/wellness/mouseErgo.html
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Whether you spend five minutes or five hours using your mouse or trackball, these suggestions can help you stay comfortable and productive.

DLink to resource


Computer Basics - Maintaining a PC

A 10-Step Tune-Up For Improving the Performance Of Your Windows PC

Developed by: Kris Driessen/Wise-Women
Type of resource: Web article
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Ten basic steps for maintaining your Windows 3.x - Windows 98 PC.

DLink to resource


Course for Technical Service Centre Managers

Developed by: SchoolNet Africa
Type of resource: Online tutorial
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Aimed in the first instance at the education sector, this self-paced online course from SchoolNet Africa covers all the steps involved in setting up, running, and maintaining a technical support, training and service centre.

DLink to resource


Five Steps to Extend Your Computer’s Life

Developed by: TechSoup
Type of resource: Web guide
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

John Avellanet sets out a five step routine to help keep your computer healthy.

DLink to resource


PC Guide

Developed by: Charles M. Kozierok
Type of resource: Web site
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Very comprehensive reference guide for those who really want to get to know their computer inside and out. Includes: Introduction to the PC; Reference Guide; PC Buyer's Guide; System Care Guide; Troubleshooting and Repair Guide; Optimization and Enhancement Guide; Procedure Guide; Technical Resource Guide (Including Links).

DLink to resource


PC Troubleshooting for Library Personnel: Workshop Materials

Developed by: INASP
Type of resource: Website with PDFs and other downloadable documents
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

The aim of this training pack is to enable each institution to develop a realistic PC troubleshooting diagnostic procedure appropriate to their circumstances. These workshop materials consist of all of the materials that would be needed to run the full, four day workshop. The workshop materials include; presentation slides (with accompanying speakers notes), participant handouts and exercises, administrative documents and support guidelines. All materials are in a mixture of MS Word and Powerpoint formats.

DLink to resource


The Hand-Me-Down PC

Developed by: Morris Rosenthal
Type of resource: Online book
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

The primary purpose of this book is to empower owners and potential buyers of hand-me-down PCs so they can determine whether it makes financial sense for them to invest money in technology that may already be obsolete. In addition, the author has included a troubleshooting guide for those who want to do their own repairs and upgrades, and guidelines for dealing with PC shops. The focus is on 386s and 486s, but older machines as well as Pentium systems are also covered.

DLink to resource


What to Do When Things Go Wrong

Developed by: Mathew P. Graven, PC Magazine
Type of resource: website
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

PC Magazine runs through a list of 10 practical tips to help yourself when a computer problem arises. Focussed on Windows and PC solutions, the tips vary from checking cables to using basic Windows features to update or roll back versions of drivers or operating systems. It also provides simple diagnostic tips. Finally, depending on the problem area, there is a list of helpful support sites listed by software types (Word, Excel, Word Perfect, Adobe, Windows, etc).

DLink to resource


Windows Support Centre

Developed by: James Eshelman
Type of resource: Web site
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Trouble starting up or shutting down Windows? James Eshelman provides advanced Windows tips and troubleshooting advice.

DLink to resource


Computer Basics - Virus protection

Free Virus Cleaning Tools

Developed by: Softwin
Type of resource: Software
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Softwin provides you with a powerful set of virus cleaning tools designed to detect and remove viruses from your system. Because of their small size, these applications are easily downloadable even with a slow Internet connection. They can also easily be sent by e-mail to clients, friends, and partners. Thanks to http://www.techsoup.org for this link.

DLink to resource


Computer Basics - File formats

File Type Extensions

Developed by: Computer User High-Tech Dictionary
Type of resource: Web page
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

These extensions at the end of a filename refer to the type of file it is. This information is used by your operating system to launch an appropriate program when you click on the filename. Example: file.txt is a text file and can be opened by a text editor program.

DLink to resource


Optimizing PDF Files

Developed by: PCMag
Type of resource: Web article
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Tips for optimizing PDF creation using Adobe Acrobat and other PDF writers.

DLink to resource


Computer Basics - Data compression tools

7-zip

Developed by: 7-zip
Type of resource: Software
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Open source zip software, very useful for more efficient compression, for example when backing up your computer.

DLink to resource


How File Compression Works

Developed by: Tom Harris, Howstuffworks
Type of resource: Article
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

File compression is a very handy invention, especially for Web users, because it lets you reduce the overall number of bits and bytes in a file so it can be transmitted faster over slower Internet connections, or take up less space on a disk. This article explains what happens when you compress (or "zip") a computer file.

DLink to resource


Introduction to WinZip

Developed by: Delaware County Community College
Type of resource: Web tutorial
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

What WinZip is and how to use it.

DLink to resource


 
 
Search
Search this site with Google.
calendar
Visit the shared calendar for the latest training events.
 
suggest a resource
Suggest a resource to include in ItrainOnline.
 
get updated
Sign up for the monthly ItrainOnline newsletter.

RSS See the most recent additions to the site.
 
feedback
We want to know how we are doing! Contact us to tell us what you need as a trainer or learner.

Partners
  APC logo
Bellanet logo
FAO Logo

IICD logo

INASP logo

OneWorld logo
TELECENTRE logo
UNESCO logo
 
Back to Top

Home | About Us | Suggest a resource | Email your feedback | Sitemap


This common space - itrainonline.org - was originally developed by APC, BELLANET, IICD, INASP, IISD, and ONEWORLD.NET.