As with any tool with so many options, computers offer us so many applications that it is easy to become confused and need help. Fortunately, many of these “options” that computers have available are those that are supposed to help us. Here are some ideas for getting help when you are stuck.
Google it – yes, believe it or not, Google is one of the best places to get help. Go to the Google web page at google.com and enter in the search box your SPECIFIC problem for which you need help. You may phrase it as a question if you like, such as: “How do I change the default font size in Word 2010?” Notice that you should be as specific as you can with the product or program name and the edition of that program that you are using. Google will provide you a list of things to click on to get the answer you need.
YouTube – another amazing way to get help. On the Google web page look for a “YouTube” option or look for a very small array of little black squares. Clicking on that array will bring up many Google options, one of which is YouTube. Or you can just go to the YouTube web page at youtube.com. Again enter in the search bar your specific question or problem and you may be able to actually watch a tutorial on how to solve your problem. YouTube is a great resource for many things.
Classes – The big plus for classes is that you will go through a learning program instead of trying to learn “just one thing.” If you are having more than one or two isolated problems with a specific program, you probably need a good class to bring you up to speed with that whole application. In a class you will become much more aware of what you do not know and get the bigger picture. And if you are stuck in class you can always ask the instructor or cheat by looking at what your classmate is doing.
Books – There is no lack of computer publications to help you. I like the books that have lots of pictures in them to show you what the computer screens look like as you learn. Although most people enjoy books, not many people can read a book and learn from it as they read. You need to actually do the exercises to learn.
Tutoring – This is really the best learning option because it should target your specific needs. If you do decide to have a paid tutor help you, why not negotiate and invite one or two friends to be there with you and share the cost?
Friends and Relatives – especially teens. They already know more than we ever will and would really have the knowledge to help you. But would they be able to teach well and be patient with you? That could be a problem. Or maybe you wouldn’t understand the tech-talk they might use. The blue circle with the white question mark in it – this symbol represents, in most Windows applications, the way to get help. Otherwise, look for anything on the screen that says “help.” Click on it and search for what you want for that particular application.
Calling in a professional or taking your computer in to a repair shop – there is nothing wrong with doing this, especially if you are having a hardware problem. But they may not take the time to teach you anything.
I know I have not covered all the possibilities there are many more ways to learn; you have to decide which way is best for you. Learning one new thing is day is good for you and your brain. If all else fails, put your computer under your pillow at night and maybe some of the knowledge will be absorbed by your brain while you sleep. (This may only work with a laptop.)
by Jim Cerny, 2nd Vice President, Sarasota Technology User Group, FL