There are three different methods to get a computer education: post-secondary education, self-directed learning, and through online resources. Computer education covers a very broad range of topics, from software programs to hardware configuration and network set-up. In general, computer education can be divided into three broad categories: usage, software, and hardware. The level of detail required depends on what the person wants to achieve with the computer education.
Post-secondary education is the most structured way to obtain a computer education. There are programs available at both the community college and university level. In addition, many community centers offer introductory courses in popular computer software programs for a very low fee. When determining the level of computer education you need, consider three things: certification, cost, and intended usage.
The main value behind getting computer training from a post-secondary educational institute is certification. This type of learning is the only way to achieve a recognized certificate of the material covered and your level of achievement. This is very important if you want to explore a career in computers, or need to be able to provide proof of computer training when applying for a job.
The cost of computer training varies widely, depending on the software, if an outside institution certifies the program, and who is managing the program content. Review the different computer training programs and think carefully about what your final goal is before paying for a course. For example, a course in how to edit digital photos will be less expensive than a certified course in Adobe® Photoshop®.
People learning about computers as a hobby have a different goal and different needs than someone who must be able to use specific software to find a job. Look carefully at the course descriptions and find courses tailored to your needs. Courses aimed at a different audience may not be as enjoyable as one that matches your expectations.
Self-directed learning is the most common method for people who already have a strong background in computers. This type of learning is the most demanding, as students must be self-motivated and seek out assistance when they hit a difficult section of material. This method is most suitable if there is a specific item or area that you need to learn about and is not suitable for large-scale projects.
Online resources are widely available for most software products. Online courses, presentations, and demonstrations are usually provided on the vendors’ websites or hosted on a related site. Make sure to check the credentials of the training information and the version. The main functions of most software programs are covered in free tutorials.