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TEXT II. COMPUTER LITERACY FOR ALL

 

1. Fortunately, fewer and fewer people are suffering from computer anxiety. The availability of inexpensive, powerful, and easier-to-use personal computers is reducing the intimidation factor. As new generations grow up in the Information Age, they are perfectly at home with computers.

2. Why are you studying about computers? In addition to curiosity (and perhaps a course requirement!), you probably recognize that it will not be easy to get through the rest of your life without knowing about computers. Let us begin with a definition of computer literacy that encompasses three aspects of the computer's universal appeal:

Ø Awareness. Studying about computers will make you more aware of their importance, their versatility, their pervasiveness, and their potential for fostering good and (unfortunately) evil.

Ø Knowledge. Learning what computers are and how they work requires coming to terms with some technical jargon. In theend, you will benefit from such knowledge, but at first it may be frustrating.

Ø Interaction. There is no better way to understand computers than through interacting with one. So being computer literate also means being able to use a computer for some simple applications.

3. Note that no part of this definition suggests that you must be able to create the instructions that tell a computer what to do. That would be tantamount to saying that anyone who plans to drive a car must first become an auto mechanic. Someone else can write the instructions for the computer; you simply use the instructions to get your work done. For example, a bank teller might use a computer to make sure that customers really have as much money in their account as they wish to withdraw. Or an accountant might use one to prepare a report, a farmer to check on market prices, a store manager to analyze sales trends, and a teenager to play a video game. We cannot guarantee that these people are computer literate, but they have at least grasped the "hands-on" component of the definition — they can interact with a computer. Is it possible for everyone to be computer literate? Computer literacy is not a question of human abilities. Just about anyone can become computer literate. In the near future, people who do not understand computers will have the same status as people today who cannot read,



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4. If this is your first computer class, you might wonder whether using a computer is really as easy as the commercials say. Some students think so, but many do not. In fact, some novice computer users can be confused and frustrated at first. Indeed, a few are so frustrated in the early going they think they never will learn. To their surprise, however, after a couple of lessons they not only are using computers but enjoying the experience.

5. Some students may be taken aback when the subject matter turns out to be more difficult than they expected — especially if their only computer experience involved the fun of video games. They are confused by the special terms used in computer classes, as if they had stumbled into some foreign-language course by mistake, A few students may be frustrated by the hands-on nature of the experience, in which they have aone-to-one relationship with the computer. Their previous learning experiences, in contrast, have been shared and sheltered — they have been shared with peers in a classroom and sheltered by the guiding hand of an experienced person. Now they are one-on-one with a machine, at least part of the time. The experience is different, and maybe slightly scary. But keep in mind that others have survived and even triumphed. So can you.

6. And don't be surprised to find that some of your fellow students already seem to know quite a bit about computers. Computer literacy courses are required by many schools and colleges and include students with varying degrees of understanding. That mix often allows students to learn from one another — and provides a few with the opportunity to teach others what they know.

 


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