By Beverly Stewart, M.Ed.   –   Published October 2014

In 2001, renowned British scientist Stephen Hawking warned that computers were in danger of taking over the world in the not too distant future. While computers have not taken over quite yet, there’s no denying that as a society we depend on computers every single day. From using the ATM for quick cash, to updating our Facebook status via smartphone, to creating projects, papers, reports, and spreadsheets for work, computers are an indispensable part of daily life.

There’s no doubt that computer technology has improved productivity, revolutionized both school and the workplace, and improved our lives in the process. But, the rapid pace at which technology evolves had brought its own unique challenges.

According to Hawking, “computers double their performance every 18 months.” One of the most illuminating examples is the fact that the Apollo 11 computers had less processing power than today’s average cellphone. That’s certainly one giant leap for mankind!

Keeping up with those changes can be difficult even for the most dedicated technophile. For the rest of us, it can feel downright overwhelming!

Learning new programs, or even maintaining basic computer literacy, is crucial for people of all ages. And, for the recent grad, job changer, or those reentering the workforce, updated computer skills can often be enough tip the scales and win that coveted job or promotion.

So, what types of programs should you know? Here are the most basic, frequently used, and important programs you must learn.

Word Processing. Microsoft Word is undoubtedly the most commonly used word processing program for PCs in the business world. And, Apple users may choose iA Writer or Byward, among others. Regardless of the PC-Mac debate, word processing proficiency is an absolute must.

Spreadsheets. Excel is commonly used to create spreadsheets and reports of all kinds. Features like macros, freeze panes, protecting worksheets, and templates make this incredibly useful for both business and school.

Accounting and bookkeeping. From QuickBooks, to Sage One, to FreshBooks, accounting software can be complex to learn for the small business owner. And, knowledge of one program, unfortunately, does not necessarily transfer to others.

Email. Absolutely everyone should know how to write and send an email, as well as attach a photo or document.

Social media. New media opportunities including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more mean those involved in marketing and advertising have a slew of new sites to learn. Plus, the social media universe keeps expanding, with more exciting opportunities every day!

Sharing. Skype. Google Docs. Dropbox. Sharing images and photos, engaging in real time chat, sending protected documents, and collaborating on projects can all be done easily… once you know how!

Of course, learning new programs takes time, so it’s important to be patient with yourself. FAQs and online customer service can sometimes help. Local colleges and high schools also may offer night courses. Or, you can receive 1-on-1 tutoring for the specific computer programs you need. Whichever way you choose to learn, keeping up-to-date and computer literate is essential.

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Beverly Stewart, M.Ed.

Beverly Stewart, M.Ed. is President and Director of Back to Basics Learning Dynamics, Inc., an area leader in 1-on-1 tutoring and test prep for children and adults, and translating/interpreting since 1985. In addition, Back to Basics is a Department of Education approved 1-on-1 Private School for K-12, as well as a Business and Trade School for ages 16+.
Email Beverly at beverly@backtobasicslearning.com, call her at (302)594-0754 or visit on the web at www.backtobasicslearning.com or www.backtobasicsprivateschool.com.

Back to Basics Learning Dynamics, Inc. is located on 6 Stone Hill Road, Wilmington.

Beverly Stewart inducted to Hall of Fame of Delaware Women