[LINK] Real-world IT skills levels (was Re: Show me the money)
stil at stilgherrian.com
Wed Oct 29 10:08:24 EST 2008
On 29/10/2008, at 9:40 AM, Jan Whitaker wrote:
> By this stage in computer skills
> development, we should be well past the 'need to train' argument in
> most modern workplaces. People come with keyboard skills and word
> processing and at least a passing acquaintance with spreadsheets if
> they need it.
Sadly out in actual small businesses whose primary function is not
computer-related this simply isn't the case.
I've banged on about this before, I know. But the simple truth is that
in the majority of the small business clients I deal with, computer
skills are an oral tradition... and like all oral traditions it's full
of half-truths, myths, obsolete ideas and plain old falsehoods.
As I said in August http://mailman.anu.edu.au/pipermail/link/2008-August/078952.html
The majority of the users I deal with are not aware that the home
of their web browser can be changed. Of those that do know, only
tiniest minority know how to do it, or how to look up how to do it.
Very few people are comfortable with the idea of searching for
information, I suspect largely because they don't know what to
More importantly, the vast majority of the users I see do not know
what the terms "web browser" or "home page" mean. It's just "the
internet". Then again, neither do they confidently know the terms
"menu bar", "toolbar", "radio button", "checkbox", "dialog"...
very few "ordinary" users have any formal training in any of this.
Things which us digerati (or digital dinosaurs, in most cases it
seems) take for granted but which is very UNcommon knowledge amongst
small-business computer users include:
* Word processors have "styles" and "templates" and other tools to
make life easier. More complex word processors can combine data
from different documents.
* Email is "part of" the Internet, as is "instant
they won't know that it's called "IM", they just call is "MSN").
If you are not connected to "the Internet" (which for them is
"websites), then the others don't work either.
* Spreadsheets have formulae beyond adding up and simple
* Email programs (never use the word "client", they think you mean
their customers" can have rules to automatically do stuff.
* Computers are doing things when when you're not sitting in front of
them pedalling them along. Computers can even do things without you
being there at all.
* Things change.
I could go on... but the idea that workers come pre-implanted with
computer literacy is wrong. Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong. In most
cases if they DID ever do anything formal in the way of training, a
lot of that is now obsolete thanks to rapid change. And now Office
2007 looks different and their web browser looks different and they're
A challenge: In just one sentence, explain when you should "click" and
when you should "double-click". After you explain what "double-click"
means, 'cos they might know it as "click twice".
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