Hey there Noob Alliance!
In this article we are going to talk about how you can get out of that dark pit of knowing nothing about computers and how to learn computer basics so that you can feel more confident when faced with having to use a ‘smart’ device and so that you can start to help yourself when trouble creeps in, but most importantly so that you can start to have fun with what this awesome digital world has to offer!
Shift Those Mind-Gears to “I Can”
Real-talk first… my dear friends, you won’t be able to accomplish a darn thing if your mindset is that of “I can’t” or “It’s too hard” or “I’m scared I break it”.
It doesn’t matter if you are a senior, if you’re a technophobe or any other label you give yourself – as long as you have the desire and perseverance to learn and to push through – you can do it! I’ve helped many folks of all ages and the ones who really wanted to learn and dared to put their fears aside are the ones who are helping others now.
Computers and other computing devices have really advanced over a very short period but as awesomely “smart” as they’ve become their purpose is still for you to interact with them – ultimately you tell them what you want and they give you what you ask for. They’re not out to get you, I promise 😉
Now, sometimes there are misunderstandings – which cause “wtf” moments. These are normal so don’t get discouraged when it happens! Those often still happen to me (albeit on a more advanced level) and because things are changing all the time it will continue to happen.
Remember, no one ever starts off being an expert at something – they fail many times to get to “awesome-level”! The reason they become experts is because they don’t give up!
Google, Google and more Google – It’s Free!
I am going out on a limb here and assuming that if you’ve found this site, you already know the basics of how to Google… But if you are just barely getting on or trying to help someone else improve their computer skills, then I suggest the first thing you learn/teach is how to Google and how to YouTube (learn everything from finding information online to how to use the internet safely first).
Keep in mind that although this is a brilliant and free way to learn, this method requires that you know what to search for, that you are comfortable with DIY learning and that you are able to put all the overwhelming amounts of information coming from all directions into some kind of sequence that makes sense.
Here is a free online resource that can get you started: Wikibooks – Computers For Beginners
E-Book (or Real-Book) It – Aka Working Through Self-Help Books
E-books (digital books you can read on your smart phone, tablet or computer screen) or ‘real’ books are a good starting point to improve your computer skills. I actually recommend this for complete noobs because the information is put together into sequence and takes into consideration your level of computer literacy. It also leaves out the guess-work of “where to start” and “what to learn next”.
Often the books come with DVDs that contain follow-along video guidance. E-books may have links to video content you can watch online. This helps a lot because it can be difficult to understand what a book talks about if you have no visuals of practical examples.
When looking for books, make sure that you choose a book relevant to the version of software/application you are trying to learn about. For example, if your computer is running Windows 10 operating system and you are looking to learn how to use a computer for beginners, choose a book that teaches based on Windows 10. The reason for this is that every operating system looks different. Buttons and settings are not in the same place and icons and menus do not even look the same between different versions.
You can check here to find out how to check your version of Windows (this is also invaluable to know when you are DYI learning by Googling or in the event that you need a IT specialist’s help over the phone and they ask you that very pressing question).
Here are some books I would recommend for beginners who want to learn the basics of how to use a computer running Windows 10:
If you need to learn Macbook and OSX basics then I recommend:
And if you’d like to brush up on Microsoft Office (Word, Excel etc) basics
(If you have older versions of Microsoft Office there are books available for those as well in the “For Dummies” series).
E-Learning – The Internet Has It All Nowadays
Let’s step it up a level! If you really want the best learning experience that this current era that we live in has to offer, I recommend you look into e-learning aka online courses.
This way of learning is even more simple, laid out and structured in a way that helps you to improve your skills and knowledge leaving minimal room for confusion.
Often the e-learning platforms will guide you through sequential modules with video content embedded conveniently on the same page the learning content is on.
E-learning can save you hours of time and frustration! (Digging on the internet can become tiresome and you might end up giving up because it can feel that you’re getting nowhere with your efforts).
There will often be quizzes built into the courses for the purpose of checking your understanding of the content as well as practical work so it forces you to get in some practice – which is a very important aspect of learning.
For learning computer basics check out Udemy – they also provide a plethora of other courses you may be interested in. Always check the course ratings and comments when making a decision on which course to choose.
Here is video that provides some info on Udemy:
Practice What You Have Learned and Ask Questions!
And finally, practice – the best way to know your stuff and to fine tune your skills – there is no replacement for actually getting your hands dirty! In this case, that means clicking a lot of buttons and trying out the things you are learning about while using one or more of the ways discussed above.
Before you click buttons though, make sure you are backing up your computer – discussed here. This will help you feel more confident to push buttons knowing you have a copy of your important files somewhere safe!
Actually, seeing as though I have your best interests at heart I’m giving you no choice! *Stern look* you better be backing up your stuff my fellow noob! Don’t skip this advice! (Do it! Do it now!). 😉
One final word on the topic of learning – ask questions! Don’t be hesitant or shy to ask.
There are forums online where people help each other or you may have a tech savvy friend of family member whose brain you can pick and now you have ComputerNoobGuru too! 😉
So no excuses and happy leveling up your skills <33
Leave me a comment and share the love – have you ever improved your skills by self-study? How did you go about it and do you have any advice to share with the world?