Effective Communication -Computer Skills

Learning the computer skills you need to be more efficient.

CPD Assessments
Effective Communication - Computer Skills

Effective Communication - Computer Skills

Case Study

Zinhle Mchunu works as the Life Skills teacher at a rural school. When Zinhle qualified as a teacher in 1998, she was optimistic about the new democratic government and the changes they would bring to South Africa.

Over the years Zinhle worked hard to collect information for clients to further themselves post matric. As the years went by Zinhle noticed that the world was becoming more technologically advanced. She remembered qualifying as a teacher in 1998 and computers back then were an absolute luxury. She couldn’t afford one much less be able to use it. Most government schools didn’t have basic facilities; computers were a myth back in the day. 

Now, some 20 years later, computer literacy is a necessity and has become such a large part of everyday life. 

Zinhle made some sacrifices a few years ago and saved money so that she could become computer literate. As a Life Skills teacher Zinhle recognised that she needed to be ahead of the game by getting the latest information out to her clients. She enrolled in a three month part-time course and with much dedication managed to learn about word processing, spreadsheets, emails, browser basics, common keyboard commands and basic hardware terminology. Today she is able to assist clients with searching the web, application letters for bursaries and even teaches clients about social media platforms that will help them network in the future. Not only does the knowledge help the clients, Zinhle loves using the computer as this assists her with data storage, file management and organising her teaching materials. She can effortlessly perform her daily tasks. 

She constantly updates her own knowledge by watching free online tutorials about new software applications. Zinhle believes the internet is a wonderful resource for learning.

Zinhle is pleased that her sacrifices and hard work paid off so that she can do her level best to assist the clients using the aid of technology. 

Computer literacy refers to knowledge and ability to use computers and technology efficiently.

Computer literacy can also refer to the comfort level someone has with using computer programs and applications that are associated with computers. The meaning of the term 'computer literacy' can vary from group to group and country to country. Computer literacy could also refer to the knowledge and skills required for basic use of computer hardware, software and the internet. These critical computer and internet skills are necessary for practitioners, as it allows them to conduct their daily functions effectively. 

From the case study above we can see that Zinhle is thinking responsibly and has equipped herself with knowledge on computer usage.

There are many clear advantages to being computer literate in the 21st century. This includes but is not limited to:
  • More job opportunities. 
  • Better / easier communication.
  • New media.  
  • Having an up-to-date news source.
  • Being prepared for the future.
It is essential to have a working knowledge in the following areas:

A computer system consists of two major elements: hardware and software. Computer hardware is the collection of all the parts you can physically touch. Some hardware components are easy to recognise, such as the computer case, keyboard and monitor. Computer software, on the other hand, is not something you can touch. Software is a set of instructions for a computer to perform specific operations, for example MS Word is an example of software. You need both hardware and software for a computer system to work.

Practitioners must be able to:
  • Assemble a computer (connect mouse, keyboard, monitor, etc.).
  • Switch a computer on and off.
  • Use the keyboard and mouse effectively.
Operating System
An operating system (OS) is system software that manages computer hardware, software resources and provides common services for computer programs. Examples of these are Windows, Mac and Linux.  

Practitioners are able to do the following:
  • File management which involves creating, saving, naming files and folders, and retrieving them.
  • Make changes to the system by using the control panel.
Word Processing
A word processor is software that allows users to create, edit and print documents. It enables you to write text, store it electronically, display it on a screen, modify it by entering commands and characters from the keyboard, and print it. Of all computer applications, word processing is the most common. Examples of these are Microsoft Word, Mac Pages, and Google Docs. 

Practitioners have the ability to:
  • Create a new document, enter text and save it.
  • Open and edit existing documents.
  • Navigate in a document and perform a search.
  • Select and move text.
  • Format characters and paragraphs.
  • Make indents, margins, lists, breaks, spacing.
  • Use AutoCorrect and Help tools.
  • Create and edit tables.
  • Control page and document appearance.
  • Print documents, envelopes and labels.
A spreadsheet or worksheet is a file made of rows and columns that help sort data, arrange data easily and calculate numerical data. What makes a spreadsheet software program unique is its ability to calculate values using mathematical formulas using the data in cells. Examples of these are Microsoft Excel, Mac Numbers and Google Sheets.

A skilled practitioner will be able to:
  • Open files and use page setup.
  • Enter, correct and save data.
  • Use the menu commands.
  • Format cells, rows and columns.
  • Understand navigation and movement techniques.
  • Use simple arithmetic functions in the formulas.
  • Access Help.
  • Modify a database and insert data from another application.
  • Print worksheets and workbooks.
Presentations software
Microsoft PowerPoint is an example of a presentation program that creates a slideshow of important information, charts and images to display during a presentation. It is most often used for business and educational or informational presentations. Other examples are Mac Keynote, Google Slides and Prezi. 

Practitioners use presentation software to:
  • Create title and bullet slides.
  • Create Slides in Outline view.
  • Modify slide text and check spelling.
  • Select a template.
  • Insert a table.
  • Work with text, draw objects and use drawing tools.
  • Use ClipArt and WordArt.
  • Create an Organisation Chart and use options.
  • Edit a Column Chart.
  • Change text and bullets in the Slide Master and remove objects.
  • Use Slide Show options, add transitions and animation.
  • Work with Notes.
  • Print a presentation.
Emails and Web/Internet surfing

Email is short for 'electronic mail'. Similar to a letter, an email is sent via the internet to a recipient. The message that may contain text, files, images or other attachments is sent through a network to a specified individual or group of individuals. Examples of these are Microsoft Outlook, Mac Mail, Google Mail and Mozilla Thunderbird. 

Practitioners are well versed in:
  • Sending and receiving emails.
  • Managing email using folders/labels.
  • Sending attachments with emails.
  • Connecting to the internet.
  • Searching the internet with a search engine such as Google, Duckduckgo, Bing.
  • Using social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).
  • Effectively finding information/references on public databases.
  • Using online applications for basic tasks.
  • Setting up an online survey using a site such as Survey Monkey
  • Setting up a personal homepage using a service such as Google sites.
  • Learning to use a blogging platforms like WordPress or Blogger.

Multimedia applications deal with the computer-controlled use of text, graphics, drawings, still and moving images (video), animation, audio and any other media where information can be represented, stored, transmitted and processed digitally.

Practitioners can use this application to varying degrees:
  • Use basic graphics software (e.g. MSPaint) for opening and saving pictures in different formats.
  • Use graphics software (e.g. Adobe Photoshop) for basic manipulation of images or changes to contrast, brightness, colour, etc.
Statistical or mathematical applications

Statistical software programs are used for collection, organisation, analysis, interpretation and presentation of data.

Practitioners are often trained to use special programs and have the skills to:
  • Insert data into a statistical program such as SPSS.
  • Perform basic data manipulation: sorting, computing averages, etc.
  • Perform basic plotting of data.
  • Perform basic analyses of data using univariate tests (e.g. t-test).
These are a few of the most important computer skills needed and used by a career development practitioner. A practitioner might be more skilful at other software and hardware use but that would depend on additional courses and their financial commitments.

Having computer skills is necessary in the 4th industrial revolution (4IR) as it connects one to the outside world.

Shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 2.0 South Africa (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 ZA) 

This means you can share and adapt this work but not for commercial purposes. You will only need to include the following reference to the original content in all shared works.

Kindly attribute as follows:

Beukes, C. J., Mahadave, K., & Kanhai, K. (2022). Professional Development Portfolio for Career Development Practitioners (1st ed.)CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 ZA, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/za/ 



Karuna Mahadave

Christopher John Beukes

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