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Basic Skills & Requirements — Index of Topics

 

Basic Skills Overview

Basic Skills 1: Mouse and Keyboarding Skills

Basic Skills 2: Study Skills, Reading Comprehension, and Work Habits

Basic Skills 3: Internet Navigation

Basic Skills 4: Word Processing Files

Basic Skills 5: Saving Files

Basic Skills 6: Email

 

Computer Equipment 1: Requirements

Computer Equipment 2: Internet Browser

Web Browser Check

Internet Browser: Cookies

Internet Browser: Java

Internet Brower: JavaScript

Computer Equipment 3: Anti-Virus Software

Computer Equipment 4: Email

What Terminology should I know?

Basic Skills Overview

In order to take online classes at Westmoreland, you will be expected to have the following skills.

1. Using a computer:

  • turn on a computer, its monitor, and its printer

  • start up programs or switch between programs to complete tasks

  • move a mouse to specific points on the screen and use it to activate commands, to reveal menus, to move (drag) screen elements

  • use a mouse or commands to open, close, or resize windows on the computer display

  • become familiar with the layout of a standard keyboard and use keys (hunt and peck is okay) to enter characters (text), to erase (delete) text, and to move the cursor around the screen

  • know how to insert and remove a flash drive, CD, and/or a DVD

  • shut down the computer appropriately

2. Using word processing software:

  • use Microsoft Word to create a new word processing file and save the file to an appropriate medium

  • use keyboard commands and the mouse to highlight text, delete (cut) or move (paste) text, and format text (for example, make it bold or change its size)

  • use a spell checker and recognize its limits - always proofread you document. (A spell Czech ken sea know airs inn this sentence.)

  • retrieve an existing file and save changes made to the file

  • print a word processing document

3. Gaining access to the Internet:

  • use a browser such as Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox or Chrome for Windows and for MAC use Mozilla Firefox or Safari to access the Internet

  • enter an Internet address (URL such as https://wccc.blackboard.com) to view a specific site

  • use a search engine such as Google or Bing to locate sites for specific information

  • print information gathered from Internet resources

  • save information gathered from Internet resources

  • use a favorite or bookmark to save the address (URL) of a site you may need to visit again

4. Using email

  • know your own Westmoreland College email address

  • send, receive, and reply to email

  • send and receive attachments to emails

  • print and/or save email messages

  • understand that email has limited privacy

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Basic Skills 1: Mouse and Keyboarding Skills

You should have the following mouse skills:

  • pointing and clicking

  • dragging the mouse to select text or elements on the screen

  • manipulating the cursor with the mouse

Here is a good tutorial for mouse skills. This is meant for someone who has never used a computer before. It was put together by the Northville Public Library in Michigan: click here to visit the site.

Because most of the work and communication you will do in an online course is written, a lack of good keyboarding skills can be a serious drawback. You need not know how to type using a formal typing style, or even be able to type very fast, but imagine having to hunt-and-peck your way through an online exam that has a time limit of one hour. The more slowly you enter information, the less time you will have to double check your work and to think critically.

Here is a short test of your keyboarding skills. If it takes you more than 90 seconds to type the following sentences, you may want to reconsider taking online classes until you have brushed up your keyboarding skills (by the way, WCCC offers keyboarding classes ONLINE!).

Please click your mouse into the text box below, and type the following bolded sentences (each sentence uses all 26 letters of the alphabet, in case you are wondering how they are related). Read the sentences to yourself a few times, then start your egg timer or with the assistance of another person, use the second hand on your watch to count out 90 seconds while you type the sentences. Do not worry about hitting "Enter" at the end of every line; just keep typing as you go along!

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. I quickly explained that many big jobs involve few hazards. Jack Farmer realized that big yellow quilts were expensive.

Did it take you less than 90 seconds? If so, you should have little trouble keeping up with your online course.

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Basic Skills 2: Study Skills, Reading Comprehension, and Work Habits

Three of the most important basic skills that you will need in order to be successful in online courses have very little to do with computers. Students who learn best in online courses are good at these three skills:

  1. Study skills: are you able to take notes based on a textbook and a printed lecture? Can you anticipate the kinds of questions and problems that your instructor will likely ask? Do you prepare your own study guides for tests and projects?

  2. Reading comprehension: are you able to select the main idea from each paragraph you read? When you read, do you write down unfamiliar words and concepts? Do you sometimes have difficulty in understanding passages from your textbooks, or are things usually clear the first time through? Do you reread passages that seem to be important, so that you remember them well?

  3. Good work habits: can you set aside a quiet place in which to study and work, away from potential distractions? Are you willing to work hard by yourself, and if you have questions or concerns, are you willing to wait sometimes as long as two or three days for a response? Can you devote at least 10 -12 hours a week for each three-credit class you take online? Is the time you plan to devote to online courses "stolen" from your other responsibilities, or do you really have the time every week? Many students who end up dropping out of online courses do so because they thought they could squeeze an online course into an already busy life!

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Basic Skills 3: Internet Navigation

If you are new to the Internet, you can get some experience in how to move from one place to another by visiting the "How To - Learning Guide" page at WebSite Builders.com .

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Basic Skills 4: Word Processing

Unfortunately, we cannot show you how to get good keyboarding and word processing skills in just a few minutes. You should be able to keyboard fairly accurately and use your word processing software to set the font, font size, margins, spacing, and pagination in documents. If you are not sure about these skills, we offer basic classes both face-to-face and online in keyboarding and how to use Microsoft Word. Ask your counselor about OFT100 and CPT150. OFT100 is a one credit class in Basic Keyboarding. CPT150 or Microcomputer Concepts is a three credit course that covers computing basics, Word, Excel, Access, and PowerPoint. We highly recommend these classes if you need to brush up your keyboarding or computer skills.

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Basic Skills 5: Saving Files

To learn how to save files from the web onto your computer, visit the "Download Data" Page at Learn The Net.com.

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Basic Skills 6: Email

Learn The Net.com has a wonderful web site set up that explains how email works and how you can manage your own email, click here.

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Computer Equipment 1: Requirements

In order to be successful in your courses, you will need access to a computer with these requirements:

  • HARDWARE: A computer running Windows 8/8.1 or Windows 10, a CD or DVD drive, and access to a letter quality printer (Macintosh systems should be running OSX 10.8 or above.)

  • INTERNET: DSL, Cable, or any high-speed Internet connection, public web access such as at a library (ask first about availability), or the Westmoreland College computer labs.

  • WEB BROWSER: See below or click here for web browser information.

  • JAVASCRIPT - See below or click here for JavaScript information

  • EMAIL: Access to email. While enrolled at Westmoreland, each student has a free email account. Go to http://my.westmoreland.edu for access to your college email account.

  • SOFTWARE: Microsoft Office - Word, PowerPoint, and Excel; PDF reader - Adobe Acrobat Reader

  • APPS: Java, Flash , JavaScript
  • OPTIONAL: Headset/Microphone, Web Cam, etc.
    The course syllabus will list any additional software or plug-in requirements for specific courses.

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Computer Equipment 2: Internet Browser

Please have one of the following minimum Internet browser configurations:

WINDOWS:

MAC:

  • Safari 6 or later for Mac OSX 10.7 and 10.8; Safari 7 for Mac OSX 10.9 and Safari 8 for Mac 10.10 and 10.11 is supported.

  • Mozilla Firefox Final Release Channel 31 and later

  • Chrome Stable Channel 36 and later.

AOL USERS:
AOL's browser is not compatible with our software; please use Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari. To see how to use AOL to take online courses, see the Technical Support documentation under Course Documents.

Windows 10 new web browser, Edge, is not compatible with Blackboard at this time.

Other browsers and operating systems may be compatible, but they are not recommended by Westmoreland.

For further information click Blackboard Support for web browsers.

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Cookies

Enable Cookies:

To enable cookies, follow the instructions below for the browser version you're using.

Internet Explorer 11.0+ (Windows only)

1. Click the Tools icon in the browser toolbar
2. Choose Internet Options
3. Click the Privacy tab
4. Under Settings, move the slider to the bottom to allow all cookies
5. Click OK

For more information on Internet Explorer, please see Microsoft's Help Center on enabling cookies.

Firefox 31+

1. Click the menu button in the upper-right (Icon looks like 3 lines)
2. Choose Options
3. Select the Privacy panel
4. Under History select Firefox will: Use custom settings for history from the drop-down menu
5. Ensure that the checkbox for Accept cookies from sites is checked
6. Make sure that Accept third party cookies: is set to Always
7. Ensure Keep until: is set to they expire
8. Click OK

For more information on Mozilla, please see Firefox Help for more instructions on enabling cookies.

Safari 6+ (MacOS only)

1. Click the Safari menu from the top toolbar
2. Choose Preferences
3. Click the Privacy tab
4. Click the Never checkbox for Block Cookies or Allow from websites I visit

For more information on Safari, please see Apple's Help Center.

Google Chrome 36+

1. Click the Chrome menu on the browser toolbar (Icon looks like 3 lines)
2. Choose Settings
3. Click Show advanced settings
4. Click Content settings in the Privacy section
5. Ensure that the bullet for Allow local data to be set is selected
6. Also ensure that Block third-party cookies and site data is not checked

For more information on Google Chrome, please see Google's Help Center.

Edge 20+ (Windows only)

1. Click the More action button on the Toolbar
2. Choose Settings
3. Search for View advanced seytings and click on it.
4. Under Cookies section, select to either Don't block cookies (default) or Block only third party cookies.
5. Restart Edge.

For more information on Internet Explorer, please see Microsoft's Help Center on enabling cookies.


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Java

JRE versions 7 and 8 are the recommended versions.

Enabling Java:

Please first Download Java, which is free, if you have not already done so. It will automatically be enabled on your browser during installaion.

Please follow these instructions to enable Java through your Web browser if Java has been installed and is not working properly:

Internet Explorer

  1. Click Tools and then Internet Options
  2. Select the Security tab, and select the Custom Level button
  3. Scroll down to Scripting of Java applets
  4. Make sure the Enable radio button is checked
  5. Click OK to save your preference

Mozilla Firefox

  1. Start Mozilla Firefox browser or restart it if it is already running
  2. From the Firefox menu, select Tools, then click the Add-ons option
  3. In the Add-ons Manager tab, select Plugins
  4. Click Java (TM) Platform plugin (Windows) or Java Applet Pug-in (Mac OS X) to select it
  5. Check that the option selected is Ask to Activate or Always Activate or on older Firefox versions, click on the Enable button (if the button says Disable, Java is already enabled)

Google Chrome

  1. Enter about:plugins in the search field.
  2. Scan for Java and check whether Java is enabled (if the Disable link appears, Java is already enabled)
  3. Click on the Enable link (if available)
  4. (Optional) Check the Always allowed box to stop additional Chrome warnings when running Java content

Safari

  1. Click on Safari and select Preferences
  2. Click on the Security tab
  3. Select Allow Plug-ins, then Manage Website Settings
  4. Click on the Java item, select an option (Ask, Allow or Allow Always) from the drop-down list When visiting other websites
  5. Click Done


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JavaScript

Enable JavaScript:

Internet Explorer 9.0+

  1. Select the Tools menu and click Internet Options
  2. Select the Security tab and click the Internet zone
  3. Choose Custom Level
  4. In the Security Settings - Internet Zone dialog box, look for the Scripting section.
  5. Select Enable for Active Scripting
  6. When the Warning! window pops up asking Are you sure you want to change the settings for this zone? select Yes
  7. In the Internet Options window click on the OK button to close it.
  8. Click on the Refresh button to run scripts

Mozilla Firefox

  1. Select the Tools menu and then select Options
  2. Select the Content tab
  3. Click to select the Enable JavaScript checkbox
  4. In the Options window click OK
  5. Click on the Reload current page button to run scripts

Google Chrome

  1. On the web browser menu click on Customize and control Google Chrome and select Settings
  2. In Settings, click on Show advanced settings...
  3. Under Privacy, select the Content settings... button
  4. Under the JavaScript section, select Allow all sites to run JavaScript
  5. Click OK
  6. Click on the Reload this page button to run scripts

Safari

  1. On the web browser menu click on Edit and select Preferences...
  2. Select the Security tab
  3. Under Web content check the Enable JavaScript checkbox
  4. Click on the Reload the current page button to run scripts

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Computer Equipment 3: Anti-Virus Software

Because online courses require you to send files and messages across computer networks, it is VERY IMPORTANT to have anti-virus software installed on your computer. Remember, too, that anti-virus software is ineffective if it is not kept current! Two of the major anti-virus software companies are McAfee (http://www.mcafee.com) and Symantec (http://www.symantec.com). WCCC strongly encourages you to have anti-virus software installed on your computer and to keep it updated regularly.

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Computer Equipment 4: Email

It is to your advantage to have an email account that you can check from anywhere. Our online students often do their work for classes from different places at different times (at work, at home, even on vacation), which makes having a web-based email account useful. You must have a working email account in order to take online classes at Westmoreland, so the college provides a free one for you. This is the only email account that is used for communication in online classes at Westmoreland.

For more information on your college email account view the Getting Started document by clicking here.

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What Terminology should I know?

Term Description
Attachment

A file that is sent along with an email or Discussion Board message.

Bookmark

A bookmark acts like a shortcut to a web site.  Internet Explorer calls this a "Favorite" while Safari calls it a "Bookmark." Either way, it will allow you to revisit a web page at a later date without having to remember the URL to the page.

Browser

A browser, or web browser, is a program that allows people to interface to the World Wide Web allowing you to view web sites and move from one site to another.  Two examples would be Microsoft Internet Explorer or Safari

Chat

Real-time communication between two people via computer. Once a chat has been initiated, either person can enter text by typing on the keyboard, and the entered text will appear on the other person's monitor.

Cookies

A cookie, also known as an HTTP cookie, web cookie, or browser cookie, is a small piece of data sent from a website and stored in a user's web browser while the user is browsing that website. Every time the user loads the website, the browser sends the cookie back to the server to notify the website of the user's previous activity.

Cut

To remove an object from a document and place it in a temporary storage area. In word processing, for example, cut means to move a section of text from a document to a temporary area.

Default

This term is used to describe a preset value for some option in a computer program.

Discussion Board

A series of messages that have been posted as replies to each other. A bulletin board typically contains many threads covering different subjects. By reading each message in a thread, one after the other, you can see how the discussion has evolved.

Download

The process of sending information to your computer from the Internet or from another computer. 

Email

Electronic Mail

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions.  Created to help answer a majority of questions that someone may have when coming to a web site for the first time.

Firefox

Mozilla Firefox or Firefox, is a free and open-source web browser sotware.

Firewall

A firewall is used to protect a networked server from damage by those who log in to it. This can either be a computer equipped with security features, software protection, or both. A firewall allows only certain messages from the Internet to flow in and out of the internal network.

Flash Drive

A transportable drive that you can read and write to.

GB Short for gigabyte or 1,000,000,000 bytes. A unit of information used, for example, to quantify computer memory or storage capacity.
GIF

Stands for Graphics Interchange Format.  This is a type of graphic image commonly used in web pages.

Hard Drive

Where files are stored inside your computer. This is usually not portable like a floppy disk or USB memory device.

Homepage

The starting point or main page of a web site.  This page usually has information about the site and links to other pages within the site.

HTML

"Hyper-Text Markup Language." HTML code is based on a list of tags that describe the format and what is displayed on web pages.

HTTP

"HyperText Transfer Protocol." It is the protocol used to transfer data over the World Wide Web.

Internet

Countless networks and computers all over the world that allow millions of people to share information.  This information is transferred through a series of lines collectively called the Internet Backbone.

Internet Explorer

Browser software that allows you to browse links on the Internet.

IP

"Internet Protocol." This allows for data to be transferred between systems over the Internet. It provides a standard set of rules for sending and receiving data via the Internet.

IP Address

A code made up of numbers that is separated by 4 dots that identifies a particular computer on the Internet.  Every computer, whether it be a web server or the computer you're using right now, requires an IP address to connect to the Internet.

ISP

Internet Service Provider gives you access to the Internet.

Java

Java is a computer programming language developed by Sun Microsystems. It is the programming language in which all of our Blackboard online courses are written.

JPG

Short for Joint Photographic Experts Group.  Type of Graphic Image Format.  Commonly used in Web Pages.

Login

User name or a code that identifies you to a certain server. It is often used in conjunction with a password to verify who is accessing the server.

MB

Short for megabyte or 1,000,000 bytes. A unit of information used, for example, to quantify computer memory or storage capacity.

Netiquette

Netiquette, or net etiquette, refers to etiquette on the Internet. Based on the Golden Rule, good netiquette is basically not doing anything online that will annoy or frustrate other people. Three areas where good netiquette is highly stressed are e-mail, online chat, and newsgroups.

Operating System

Usually referred to as the "OS," this is the software that actually "talks" with computer's hardware. Without an operating system, all software programs would be useless. The OS is what allocates memory, processes tasks, accesses disks and peripherals, and acts as the user interface.

Paste

To copy an object from a temporary storage area on your computer to a file. In word processing, text is moved from one place to another by cutting and pasting.

Safari Browser software that allows you to browse the World Wide Web. Safari is used on a MAC.
Server

A computer with a special service function on a network, generally receiving and connecting incoming information traffic

Upload

The process of sending information from your computer to the internet or to another computer. 

USB Memory Device Small portable device that allows you to store files. Also known by Flash Drive, Jump Drive, Thumb Drive, Memory Stick, etc.
User

A person who uses a computer

Web Page

Web pages are what make up the World Wide Web. These documents are written in HTML (HyperText Markup Language) and are translated by your Web browser.

Web Site

A collection of related, interlinked Web Pages.

WWW

The World-Wide Web. A graphical hypertext-based Internet tool that provides access to web pages created by individuals, businesses, and other organizations.

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Last Updated 2/27/18
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