Since the advent of "easy" user interfaces we've been running into more and more nontechnical computer users who find themselves in trouble and have no idea what to do. Based on these experiences, we decided in 1994 to depart from our long-standing focus on information systems professional skill development and to offer a short course for people who have no technical background. Such people include managers, administrative staff, writers, lawyers, and other end users from all areas. (But not dummies; see book review in IDI Newsletter, summer, 1994.)
Although modern system software makes many tasks easier for the nontechnical user, it can also obscure exactly what's happening in the computer. Users who learn to use a word processor or other software product through either a rote tutorial or trial-and-error seldom feel fully in control of their personal computer, especially when some new situation arises. Sometimes the computer's behavior seems like magic to them. When they get the expected result they're pleased, but when something unexpected happens they may feel frustrated and have little idea what to do.
|Length:||2 half-day sessions|
|Prerequisites:||None; just familiarity with computers as a user|
|Objectives||Our goal is to give the computer user a new sense of being in control. You
should take this course if you regularly use a desktop computer but are unsure
|General Description||We begin by examining data, emphasizing how it is represented on
magnetic devices. We define in simple but rigorous language such basic terms as
bit, byte, record, and file. We then present the stored program concept and the
organization of a typical computer system.
We continue by describing the functions of software, carefully explaining the differences among the four main categories:
In the second session we look at today's popularoperating systems We show various useful commands utility functions and explain the structure of file directories. We explore how users interact with both character-based programs and graphical user interfaces (GUI).
Although Demystifying Your Computer emphasizes concepts rather than specific current technology, we rely on an actual system for many of the examples. We currently offer versions customized to these platforms, both using Intel hardware:
We plan a Windows 2000 version whenever that system gains widespread use in organizations. Call Conrad Weisert, (773) 624-3670, to discuss any other platforms of interest to you.
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Last updated March, 2000