Nail It Now Tutorials

The Recipe For Learning A New Computer Skill

Learning the computer scared me almost as much as speaking in public, my worst fear ever. But, why? Computers aren't life threatening. They answer back with that dreaded popping sound when you make a mistake, but they don't kill, wound or even bite you.

When I learned to swim. I felt scared at first but, soon, I could dog paddle. My feet were off the ground and I was moving through the water. I thought, "Wow, I can do this". My nervousness disappeared and I felt confident I could master this new skill. It was the same with snow skiing. Early on, I learned to snow plough, so I could stop whenever I liked. "Wow, I can do this". Instant confidence.

When I learned Microsoft Word, I expected to be scared at first, but took it for granted that, sooner or later, I would reach the dog paddle "Wow, I can do this" confident stage. I couldn't have been more wrong. I kept getting stuck. When you are stuck on the computer, you are really stuck. You can't go forward and you can't go back.

I spent hours staring at the computer feeling helpless and frustrated. I was too scared to touch anything. What if I did the wrong thing? What if my new computer blew up? Many times, the answer was staring me right in the face, but my brain was so full of "what if" thoughts, I didn't even see it.
I have to say that I was thrilled when I learned something new like how to save a document. But, where had the document gone? How did I get it back on my screen? The manual didn't say and the Help Section was no help at all. I started to feel uneasy again.

And it's not just computer novices who feel uneasy using a computer. A secretary friend, who has been using computers for years, dreads the day her boss asks her to type something with columns. A cool travel agent friend was not so cool when management changed the office computer system. A real estate agency receptionist types columns, but uses spaces between the columns rather than learn tabs or tables.

We immediately blame ourselves for being too stupid, too tired or too something else, but it can't be pilot error. There are too many people who feel the same way about computers. There has to be something wrong with the way we learn. The creators of manuals think it's OK for us to plough through masses of text to find an answer. The creators of the Help Section don't need help and don't understand those that do. The creators of quick tutorials think it's OK to give us the basics and leave us with lots of unanswered questions.

If only computer tutorials were like recipes. You can be a cooking novice and, yet, create a delicious chocolate cake simply by following the step-by-step instructions. You don't have to wait for the dog paddle "Wow, I can do this" stage. You are confident from the start that the creator of the recipe has spent many hours getting it right and all you have to do is blindly follow the steps. No getting stuck and no stress.

I eventually found my longed-for recipe tutorial on the Internet. At the top was the graphic I wanted to create for my web site and, below, step-by-step instructions on how to create it. I printed the tutorial and blindly followed the numbered steps, obediently clicking this tool, that command, this color box, that square, etc, not having a clue what I was doing. I loved not having to think, read masses of text or work anything out for myself.

And, when I finished the last step, there was this lovely graphic. Wow, look what I did! I got an immediate thrill. Then, I went back over each step and looked carefully at what I had actually done. Ah ha, so that's what this tool is for and that's how I do that! I learned more in the 15 minutes it took me to do this tutorial than hours wading through any manual.

I needed a cookbook of recipe tutorials when I was learning Microsoft Word. To have the cookbook organized like stepping stones across a lake (first steps first) would have been the icing on the cake and the cherry on the top would have been a real person at the end of my emails to chat to. Is this too much to ask for? I think not.

About the Author
Georgie Farmer is the creator of Nail It Now "Wow, I can do this" Microsoft Word Tutorials: Getting Started (CONFIDENCE Builder), Microsoft Word Is Easy When You Know HOW and Tabs, Tables, Tips and Tricks. These tutorials are specifically designed so that you get an immediate thrill and CONFIDENCE and can be found at http://www.nailitnow.com.au/word/index.html

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