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What is IT? What are IT skills?
 
WHAT IS IT?
Information Technology has come to mean just about anything to do with computers.  The IT department in a company set up computer systems, decide on what hardware and software is needed, install it,  and repair it when it goes wrong. 

It's called Information Technology, because that's what computers do - they store, process and output information that you and other people have put into them.  The development of computer and telecommunications technology over the last few decades has meant that the amount of information that can be stored, processed,  manipulated and shared, and the speed at which this can be done, has reached almost incredible proportions. 

WHAT ARE IT SKILLS?
IT skills is probably the wrong word - they ought to be called something like "end-user computing skills" or in a sane world "how to use a computer".  However, developments in IT mean that the whole concept of what a computer is and does is changing, and the days when a computer was a rather good typewriter or calculator are long gone.  They are now information channels as well as information processors.  Nonetheless, this doesn't change the fact that IT still means you and a computer in a room. 

The basis of all good computer skills is a mixture of 

  • Getting your computer to do what you want it to do
  • Understanding what your computer can do, and how it does it
Getting your computer to do what you want it to do
In order to get a human being to do something we want them to do, we need to know what makes them tick - do they respond to orders, encouragement or challenges? Computers, although they are machines, nevertheless have a "mind" which needs to be understood.  The best thing to say to a computer that doesn't respond to your demand is "Let me put it another way".  

Knowing what your computer can do, and how it does it
Like the ugly duckling, computers also suffer from being misunderstood.  Finding out what sort of a swan your computer is, rather than what sort of a duck it is, can make your work much easier.  Working with tables in Word, for example, is very easy, and makes some documents blissfully simple to format.  If you don't know that, and try and make a table as if Word were a typewriter, you will have a nervous breakdown. 
 

GOOD IT SKILLS - AN OVERVIEW
Good IT skills are not only useful tools for researching and presenting your work, they also reduce stress, save time and save money. 

  • Good typing skills (including using the keyboard instead of your mouse) can save hours playing 'hunt and peck'
  • Knowing the capabilities of your word processing program before you start enables you to format text quickly, saving hours of fiddling and tweaking
  • Getting to know how your computer works puts you in control of your technology - not the other way round.
  • Developing good searching skills on the internet (including knowing how to evaluate what you find) can speed up research by months
  • Using the Internet to answer IT queries can save you large amounts of money spent on software guides and handbooks - and is often much more effective
  • Using the internet to download trial versions of programs means you can "try before you buy" - or even use programs for free.
  • Understanding file formats ensures that you can share information with others easily

 

Updated Sunday November 11, 2001 4:29 PM

 

© Jonathan Still 2001 You may quote from these pages, but if your selection includes a reference I have made to someone else's work, please make sure that the attribution is clear. By not doing so, you may implicate me in plagiarism.