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Recommended Skills

Either before or during the course, you should develop the following skills:

To succeed in an online course, you need to be trained at some point (and during the course is OK) to do the following:

  • Use email to send a message and reply to a message. 
  • Copy and paste from one computer application (e.g. Word) to another (e.g. an emailer or an online forum's response form).
  • Use email to send an attached word processed file.  Note: If an attachment won't attach or won't send, use the previous skill to copy the writing right into the email message.
  • Click hotlinks (in email or on a Web page) to access a website.

Those are the skills you NEED. It would also be nice if you could also do the following:

  • Find, download, and install "utilities" and "plug-ins" for browsers.  For example, Real Player can be accessed in a free version (though there are way more links at the website for the relatively inexpensive version).
  • Install a virus checker--and use it often and update it automatically or manually at least weekly.  Two common virus checkers are Norton and McAfee, which cost less than $100 each.
  • Use a search engine, such as Google, or meta-search engine to locate information on a topic.
  • Use the sitemap of a site (its table of contents) to locate specific pages.
  • Use bookmarks/favorites to keep track of important websites and revisit them.
  • Retrace your steps by recognizing that different colors are used for visited links, that browsers list recently visited sites (that aren't bookmarked) in a pop-down menu attached to the location (web address) bar, that "go" or "history" menus keep track of up to 10 recently visited web pages.
  • Recognize the implications of common error messages (See the list in the page linked at left; follow the links as you need to understand what to do for each message.)
     

An Anecdote on Troubleshooting

One night I spent a couple hours trying to get online through my nearly new account--which usually got me on in a matter of minutes even during the busy evening hours.  This night, none of the phone numbers worked as my dial-up connection software tried repeatedly and with different access numbers.  Eventually, I gave up.

The next day, when I noted my trouble to my son, he mentioned that he had taken a telephone outside the previous day and plugged it directly into the call box located outside the house.  Apparently, he had forgotten to plug the wire back into the jack when he finished.  I took a couple hours of his computing time to make up for the time I had lost the night before, but it may be worthwhile to check with other users of the computer. 

Apparently, the error message I was getting when the connection software kept dialing mentioned my modem instead of the usual busy signal.  If I had read the error message more carefully instead of just noticing "it didn't work," I might have thought to check the phone line--especially after rebooting didn't work.


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