Class Objectives - Learn basic information about computers and have opportunities to practice what you learn. Learn about using a mouse and keyboard and how to use Microsoft Windows-based programs.
Prerequisites - None
Time - The maximum time allotted for the class is an hour and a half.
The Power Switch (the On/OffButton)
The power switch is located somewhere on the computer, usually in the front, sometimes on the side. It is not usually labeled, but it often has a little green light that lights up when the computer is on. You press this to start your computer. You may also use it to turn off the computer when you are finished but most new computers turn off by themselves.
The CPU (Central Processing Unit) and Memory
The CPU is the ‘guts’ of the computer, where all the work is done. It is in the computer case, usually on the floor, but sometimes under the monitor. The CPU instructs the computer programs to process the data. The CPU contains the computer chip or microprocessor. All of the computer's components are hooked up to a motherboard, which is the main base for the computer's circuitry and components. The CPU uses memory to store information.This computer memory is called RAM, which stands for Random Access Memory. RAM is the actual grouping of computer microchips on your motherboard.
Hard Disk Drive
The hard disk drive is the mechanism that reads and writes data on a hard disk. The hard disk drive and the hard disk are packaged as a unit and are usually referred to as the "hard drive." They are mounted permanently inside the computer. The hard disk holds the operating system for the computer (like Windows XP), programs (like Microsoft Word), and documents. The hard drive stores many more times the amount of information than can be stored on a floppy disk, but if your computer crashes anything saved on the hard disk may be lost.
One of the objects the computer stores information on is called a floppy disk. This consists of a plastic casing enclosing a thin plastic disc. The disc has a coating of magnetic particles on it, onto which the information is written in magnetic code. For this reason, keep floppy discs away from magnets.
A compact disc (CD) is similar to the floppy diskette, because it stores data and you can retrieve data from it. The CD-ROM drive is an optical drive that uses light to read information from a compact disc, like a music CD or a software CD.
There are newer devices which will hold more data than either floppy discs or compact discs. These are called flash drives or thumb drives or usb drives. They are smaller, faster, have thousands of times more capacity, and are more durable and reliable because of their lack of moving parts.
The desktop is like the table of contents of a book. It shows you the programs that are on the computer. Icons are small pictures located on the desktop. They are images representing computer programs, files, drives, and other resources on the computer. If you left-click twice on an icon, you will access what it represents. If you right-click on one, you will see a special menu with options you can select.
Software provides the instructions or data for a computer. Microsoft is the U.S.’s largest manufacturer of software. Software can be divided into two categories:
The mouse is a way to tell the computer what to do. For a hands-on practice with the mouse try left clicking on the blue words: Mouse Tutorial. You need to be on a computer that has internet access to use this tutorial.
How a Mouse Works - The mouse has a roller ball that is attached to several internal sensors that allow you to travel around the screen on the monitor. Some mice are optical with little red lights in them instead of balls.
The Mouse Buttons - The mouse has two big buttons:left and right. Most of the time you will click the left button to select objects. When you click the right button, a special menu is displayed with various options you can select. The terms left or right "button" and left or right "click" are used interchangeably.
Roller bars are available on some mice. They are used a lot with the internet and longer word processing documents. They scroll down.
How to Hold a Mouse - Hold the mouse gently, with the ball of your hand resting on the table to stabilize your hand. Put your thumb and little finger on each side of the mouse. Put your 2nd and 3rd fingers on the two mouse buttons. This method lets you control the mouse easily and without jerks.
How to click - Gently but quickly press down and let up right away.
How to drag and drop - Click on the item, keep holding down the mouse button, and move the mouse to where you want to drop the item. Then let go of the mouse button.
How to Double Click - Usually you select things with the mouse by clicking the left button twice. You can also click once and press the Enter key.
Much of the computer keyboard looks like a standard typewriter keyboard. But there are extra keys on it just for computer work. The keyboard lets you type a letter like a typewriter, and it is also a way to tell the computer what you want to do.
Backspace - Backspace deletes characters one at a time starting to the left of the cursor on the screen. It erases! (This is the key that is particularly important to those of us who are terrible typists!).
Enter - In a word processor, it is the key used for starting a new paragraph. Or it tells the computer you want to do something.
Numbers Above the Letters - Symbols above the numbers –hit shift, then type 1. You get the exclamation point.
Numerical Keypad - The numerical keypad looks like a small calculator. If you press the NumLock key (so that the NumLock light goes on), you can use it to type numbers. Sometimes its easier.
Arrow Keys - These are arrow keys that move the cursor (an arrow or little flashing bar that tells you where you are on the screen) around on the monitor screen for typing or drawing.
Delete - Delete removes characters one at a time starting to the right of the cursor on the screen. It also erases whatever is highlighted on the screen.
Function Keys, F1 through F12 - These are keys across the top of the keyboard whose functions change depending on the program that you are using. For Windows-based programs, the F1 key is always the key for Help.
Alt and Ctrl-Alt - Alt (Alternate) and Ctrl (Control) are "helper" or modifier keys. They only work when you press them at the same time as other keys. What they do changes with every computer program. Pressing Ctrl, Alt and Delete all at the same time (this action takes three fingers) acts to restart the CPU. Use Ctrl-Alt-Delete when your program gets stuck (or frozen), but remember, if you did not save your recent work, you will lose it! It is a good idea to save your work about every five or ten minutes.
When you open a program like OpenOffice, it creates a new window. This window is separate from anything else that is running on the desktop. You can have multiple windows open at the same time.
Title Bar - Located at the top of the window, tells you what program you are using.
Menu Bar - under the title bar, words that if you click on them, give you a list of things you can do in the program.
Tool Bars - located below the menu bar and are specific to each program. They are small icons that are tasks used most frequently that you can do in the program.
Task Bar - Located at the bottom of the window, next to the Start button, tells you what programs are open.
Scroll Bars - Located on the side and on the bottom, enables you to scroll up/down or right/left
Resizing, minimizing and closing a window - The symbols on the title bar at the right are found on the upper right-hand corner of any window. They are used to control the windows you are using: close them, resize them, hide them, etc.
When there are two X’s within a window, clicking on the innermost symbol will close the document you are using, but not the software.
Clicking on the start button,which is located on the far left of the task bar at the bottom of the screen, brings up the start menu. THIS WON’T WORK AT MOST OF THE LIBRARY’S COMPUTERS.
Programs give you access to the programs stored on your hard drive.
Documents shows the most recently used documents on your computer.
Settings presents you with a menu of choices for customizing your computer.
Find allows you to locate files or folders on your computer.
Help is one of the handiest features of Windows. If you are looking for a basic "how to," it is probably here.
Shut down is how you turn off the computer. After you click on this, you can either just close the software and leave the computer on, restart the computer, put it to sleep or shut it off completely. If you choose this last option, the operating system will shut down programs first, then prompt you to turn off the power switch. Arrows next to a Start menu item indicates it can be expanded for additional choices.