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20-minute skill sessions – Topic suggestions

I am about to initiate some twenty minute weekly lunchtime computer skill sessions.

I work for a firm of accountants, and so I am addressing a lot of basic topics, the aim is that each user take home 2 or 3 new tips/tricks etc. Rather then overwhelm them with heaps of stuff. The sessions will consist of 1 – 4 people eating lunch in the boardroom and while I lead a small tutorial/discussion on a predecided topic, a topic that they have said they are interested in

So maybe they will take home the knowledge that:
Ctrl-c = copy
Ctrl-v = paste
Ctrl-x = cut
Along with some other background knowledge that some other features exist, and how to recognise them. And that they can increase efficiency by recognising keyboard shortcuts

I know topics will crop up requested by the staff (and some have alread), but I am trying to think of some things that they wouldn’t think of. (like keyboard shortcuts).

Can anyone else add some suggestions to this list?

How to use Google
What is the TServer
Navigating between the Tserver and the Desktop
Working with other peoples Calendars
Creating and working with Recurring Appointments
Customizing the way your Calendar looks
Customizing the way your Tasklist looks
Using Windows Explorer to search for files
Keyboard shortcuts: a broad overview of doing things the fast way.
Microsoft Word Shortcuts
Microsoft Excel Shortcuts
Tserver Shortcuts

Aussie Chick
Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Find a way to watch them using the computers, to see what they're doing wrong.

Christopher Wells
Wednesday, January 14, 2004

What *is* the TServer?

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Sorry Tserver is what we call the terminal server that we run. We run it on fat clients, as some software will only run on the fat clients, and staff get confused with the switching.

Aussie Chick
Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Some basic virus/adware avoidance skills might be handy, if your network isn't perfectly secured :)

Mike Swieton
Wednesday, January 14, 2004

print up small cards people can take back with them with the bullet pointed lessons.
Wednesday, January 14, 2004

The use of alt-tab to switch between apps in windows. Amazing how many people do not know about that time saver.

This is a good idea, I need to think about doing something simular at my place.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

I think maybe shortcuts is too advanced.

Basic file structure, how to find saved documents, where to save your documents, how to come up with file names... that sort of thing might be handy.

Basic browser skills, when to single click, when to double click. How to move files, copy files, email files.

What to expect under each menu.. File, Edit, Help, etc.

Tell people their computer is like that genie that grants any wish, but if you're not careful it will give you a twisted version of what you want. Think of Midas.
Wednesday, January 14, 2004

You really think it is a good idea? My boss seems keen, which is a good thing.
I had planned on giving them one single take home sheet (prob. A5), which summarises what they had learnt.

Yes, alt-tabbing (or int theTserver case, alt-PgUp ing) is a skill more people need.
And shift-tab, I have seen so many people cycle through an entire form just to get back to the previous item.

I want to run a good series on keyboard shortcuts and minimising mouse use, I think this really increases productivity when you get the hang of it.

Aussie Chick
Wednesday, January 14, 2004

What's a shortcut, what is "My Documents" How to create a Folder, how to re-name a file.
Wednesday, January 14, 2004

> I think maybe shortcuts is too advanced.

The point is too address all skill levels, there are people in this office who know how to use a computer, and I want to be able to give them the oppurtunity to pickup new skills too.

The point being anyone from “which end of my mouse is up” to comp. Sci graduate (okay I am the only one of those) should be able to benefit.
The sessions are kept small so that the skill levels will not be mixed.

Aussie Chick
Wednesday, January 14, 2004

I did this for about 6 months to help coworkers learn to use Linux.  Once a week lunchtime sessions.  The 2nd and 3rd months were great.  The first month I was way over their heads.  After 3 months it was hard to come up with something I could cover in that kind of format, plus I had different people every week so I couldn't count on building on something already presented.  I left after 6 months, that ended that.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Would you say it was worth it? or a waste of time?

Aussie Chick
Wednesday, January 14, 2004

You might want to add some basic PowerPoint stuff, How To Burn a CD, and PDA lessons as well.

Matt Latourette
Thursday, January 15, 2004

I second telling them just a bit about
- how a computer works (CPU, RAM, hard disk, network cable, etc.)
- how to backup/restore their data (ZIP, CDR, etc.)
- how files are organized on disk (looks like not everyone is confortable with the idea of directories, sub-directories, etc.)
- security (making sure the anti-virus is installed, running, and up to date; not clicking on any attachement; watching out for EXE, COM, DOC, XLS, etc.)

Frederic Faure
Thursday, January 15, 2004

seriously, dont tell them how the computer works unless they ask for it.

they wont care and they dont need to know.

teach them how to _use_ the thing before anything else.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Don't forget to tell them the difference between a branch and a loop :)

Seriously, I would teach them directory structures, file locations and the difference between shortcuts and "the real Mccoy". You'd be suprised how many people keep all their documents  on the desktop so they can access them easily. I actually think this is the only technical info that you should teach, and agree with TF and not Alan Cooper on this one (you're never going to suceed in getting them to back up their files if you don't).

To explain file locations use addresses. Point out how computer addresses (called locations) are written the other way round to human addresses. Write Human addresses as paths "\\The solar system\E:\Australia\New South Wales\Melbourne\Posh suburb\Main Street\block 123\Second floor\our office\Aussie Chick" and write computer paths as if they were human addresses.
My Pictures
My Documents
Jim Beancounter
Documents and Settings
Jim Beancounters HP Pavilion

Tell them it's all virtual, just as a real address is, but they don't need to bother about that any more than they need to bother about their GPRS.

Show them how to find their files using search. Tell them how to name files (and that they should use creation dates in the name to make things easier - if Granny stored her photos in the way I have given in the example she will find it much easier to retrieve them using search.

Show them how to use help (you'll save a load of time on this - particularly if you do it with common problems they have already had).

Remember to teach them things they will want for home, not the office. They may be to embarrassed to ask you to do that.

And try to have some little "project" that you do a little of every day for a week - a boucning bunny screensaver for example. This will provide a little light relief and stop them missing the next installment.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, January 15, 2004

That would be
\\The solar system\E:\Australia\New South Wales\Sydney

Seriously, your input is great, have picked up some great ideas.
You keep saying to teach backup systems, but you would be surprised, that is actually something everybody fully and comprehensible understands.
We had a guy from an IT firm up and he was talking to me about how accounting firms seem to use backups as a way of life. I restore from backup tape a couple of times a week, and then the individuals have to back up the client data before working on it, and I am sure each of them restores a lot.

>and that they should use creation dates in the name to make things easier
Don't get me started on that, we store our files in the following way:
Lxk1514a.doc (1514 15th of the 1st 2004)
and the Lx relate to content and the k is a code for when it can be deleted.

I am getting off topic, I have picked up heaps of useful stuff, thanks.

Aussie Chick
Thursday, January 15, 2004

Where is the "Off" switch and why it is a good idea to use it when I go home at night?

Sorry. Personal pet peeve.
Thursday, January 15, 2004

Where is the "any" key? (Sorry, couldn't resist)

Full name
Thursday, January 15, 2004

Most computers have soft power off..

Much more important is to have the monitor turn itself off after a certain period of time. You might as well leave the computer on; after all thati is what you do with servers.

But with W98 turn off; they like being rebooted. Remember the bug in W98 FE when they found out that it couldn't go 49 days without rebooting. People were scouring the web to find people who managed to keep the system up 49 days without crashing, but had little success.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, January 15, 2004

A couple of tips I've found non-techies within my realm needed to know but often didn't until I taught them:

1) don't email huge files; email a common network location or intranet hyperlink instead.

      before you address this, you need to resolve several things for your local situation of course, such as what do you consider huge, and what is the approved file sharing location(s) in your network. I've seen non-tech execs email huge attachments out to long address lists of people, when everybody on the address list had access to a public shared drive. Naturally, they choked the email system at the time.

2) teach them to turn off all that funky formatting for email messages, including heavy/graphic stationery and sig files.

      It may not be a problem with your users, or your email infrastructure may handle it fine, but I ran across the problem a few years ago at a place where we had tons of marketing, sales, and administrative folks. We had devised our official company logo, the graphic shop delivered it, and it appeared in virtually every one of the sales/marketing folks' email signature files that day -- even for internal emails. There were also several of them who liked to use fancy graphical/colored stationery for their emails -- one gal insisted on using purple, flowered "paper" sationery for all her emails. Hmm. black on purple. Pretty much nobody read anything she sent -- couldn't see it. Anyway, it was choking our email system until we got them to stop.

My compliments, AC -- what you're doing is good "real" QA practice, working to improve the process and prevent errors from occurring. Too few organizations permit dedicating any resources to meaningful training or making things run better.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

You want to be TRULY LOVED?  Utterly absolutely worshipped?

Tell them about Windows-M.

I can testify to this effect -- no less than 3 separate companies are in debt with me for this little trick.



Thursday, January 15, 2004

Neat, but why shouldn't it restore the Windows as well as minimizing them. Documentation says it should.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, January 15, 2004

what the right mouse button is and how to use it.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

T.J: I'll see your puny Win-M and crush it with the mighty Win-D.

Win-D leaves nothing but the desktop showing, while Win-M won't hide dialog boxes etc.  In fact, say you have Excel open, with the 'Open File' showing, Win-M will do nothing.

For Stephen Jones, Shift-Win-M puts everything back.  Also, I think it was Win95 that had the 49 day bug (rollover error in the uptime counter (!)).  I've had Win boxes running that long, admittedly only running a single simple app.  I always wondered why they crashed after a couple of months.

Anyway, for an on-topic comment, Aussie Chick should just go with the first half of her post.  Don't tell people what they want to know, ask them.  Shortcut keys are not usually high on the list.

Friday, January 16, 2004

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