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Skills Check 0

The Skills Check is a short survey which should take you no more than 3 minutes to complete. Once you have completed the Skills Check we provide you with a personal learning plan targeted to your personal study needs and goals.

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  3. Acquiring a computer for study

Acquiring a computer for study

There can be a lot to prepare if you haven't used computers in study before. Even if you are quite familiar with using certain hardware and software, you'll probably find there are new things to get used to and new skills to learn.

Keep your preparation focused by making sure you know what is necessary for the modules you plan to study.

Covered in this section

  • Understanding hardware and software
  • What to do before your module starts
  • Choosing and buying a computer
  • Learning computer skills
  • 10 mins to complete this section

Before your module starts allow some time to get ready for a module that involves the use of a PC. If you already have a PC.

  • double-check it against the computer specification that is given in the module description under Computing requirements
  • don't assume that a lower specification will be sufficient.

If your computer doesn't meet the specification, you might

  • be able to upgrade it
  • need to think about buying a newer one
  • be able to use a computer at work
  • be able to use a public access computer.

If you are going to buy a PC, make sure that it fits at least the minimum specification for your module: most new PCs have a higher specification than needed, but it is worth taking a copy of the specification to the shop you are buying from. Try to get the PC early so you can set it up and get used to how it works.

The OU booklet Using a computer to support your study gives you further information on this subject.

If you are going to use a computer at work for your study, check with your IT administrator that you are allowed to load OU software and that you will be able to access OU online forums.

If you feel you need to know more about using your computer, you could try your local adult education classes or further education college for a short refresher.

Learndirect (a non-OU site) offers online courses, and gives information about courses at over 2000 centres across the UK.

When you get your registration confirmation letter, find your username and default password. You will need these to sign in to the resources that are available only to registered students. Then

  1. install any software as instructed in the software guide
  2. sign in and register with your username and password
  3. start to find your way around the OU sites.

Consider your main use for the PC, and check that you have the skills or knowledge you need. Although some students use spreadsheets and databases, the key skills most students require are

  • word processing, for the creation of study notes and assignments
  • searching for information on the web for research
  • using forums and email.

Have a look at 'Getting yourself ready' for further guidance on what computing skills you need.