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I remember taking classes in shorthand back in high school. How many secretaries (excuse me – administrative assistants) have to do that anymore? Had I not made the effort to learn basic computer literacy skills, I would likely be unemployed or at least seriously underemployed.

That first computer I learned on was one of a dozen our school shared with several other districts. This meant we only had them for a few weeks out of the year. Availability was a serious issue. That is not the case anymore. In fact, computers are so prolific now, they are almost seen as a human right.

Now, not only are computer everywhere, the skills to use them are practically expected as well. One of the top concerns driving people back to school is keeping up with advancements in their field and the fear that technological advancements will significantly change their job within the next 5 years.[i]

The “Employment Situation – March 2017” released by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics[ii] shows good reason for those fears. While unemployment numbers appear to be trending downward, the number of unfilled vacancies has hit a record 5.8 million as of April. Finding and hiring people skilled for these jobs (many require computer literacy) is the primary issue. Technology is changing and in some cases, eliminating entire classes of work.

Next question is, how good are your computer skills? Is this what is holding you back either at work or at school? You can learn almost everything you need to know about using the internet, email, and other computer functions through video tutorials. Many schools offer a variety of video tutorials, including ones on their learning management system, as part of their Student Resources. You may also want to check out, which offers many free tutorials on how to use different computer programs and applications.

Still not convinced? Consider the fact that back in 2015, eight out of ten middle-skill jobs already required basic digital skills, Among those, digitally-intensive, middle-skill jobs grew 4.7% compared to 1.9% for basic skill positions and they offer 18% higher wages.[iii] These are jobs that focus on basic everyday software: spreadsheets and word processing, billing programs, etc. Taking classes online is digitally intensive as well. Brush up on the basics and commit to polishing your skills as you progress through your studies.

Basic computer literacy skills provide a foundation for navigating the Learning Management System (LMS), which is the delivery system for online courses. The LMS is how you access your reading assignments and videos, engage with your classmates and instructor, and where you submit assignments for grading.  Blackboard, Desire2Learn, and Moodle, are common LMS platforms for higher education.

The great thing about building your computer literacy skills is that you can apply those skills to new projects. Take formatting tools for example. Once you’ve mastered Jim’s course teaching you how to format papers in APA, you can apply those steps, altering the specific formatting as necessary to any required system. Check it out at here.


[i] “Adult Learner Motivations and Expectations in 2016.” London/USA. Pearson Education.
[ii] “The Employment Situation – March 2017.” (2017 April 17). Bureau of Labor Statistics.
[iii] Crunched by the Numbers: The Digital Skills Gap in the Workforce. 2015 March. Burning Glass Technologies. Retrieved from: