how to learn computer course

Last Updated on December 28, 2022

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how to learn computer course


  • 1About This TutorialLearn what’s covered in this free course.
  • 2What is a Computer?Learn what a computer is and how it functions.

Hardware Basics

  • 3Basic Parts of a Computer Learn the basic parts of a computer, including the monitor, computer case, and keyboard.
  • 4Buttons and Ports on a Computer Learn the various ports and buttons on a computer.
  • 5Inside a Computer Learn what’s inside a computer.
  • 6Laptop Computers Learn more about laptop computers and how they differ from traditional desktop computers.
  • 7Mobile Devices Learn how mobile devices work.

Software Basics

  • 8Understanding Operating Systems Get a better understanding of operating systems and how they function.
  • 9Understanding Applications Better understand applications and how they work.

Using a Computer

  • 10Setting Up a Computer Learn know how to set up a computer.
  • 11Getting Started with Your First Computer Get started with your first computer.
  • 12Getting to Know the OS Get to know your computer’s operating system.

Using the Internet

  • 13Connecting to the Internet Learn how to get online and start using the Internet.
  • 14Getting Started with the Internet Learn how to get started with and navigate the Internet.
  • 15Understanding the Cloud Gain a greater understanding of the cloud and how it works.

Safety and Maintenance

  • 16Keeping Your Computer Clean Use these tips to keep your computer clean.
  • 17Protecting Your Computer Employ these strategies to keep your computer well protected from threats.
  • 18Creating a Safe Workspace Learn tips for creating a safe space at work.
  • 19Basic Troubleshooting Techniques Learn these basic troubleshooting techniques.


  • 20How to Use Your Computer’s Built-in Help Learn how to use your computer’s built-in help function.
  • 21Learning a New Program Use these tips for learning a new program, whatever it may be.
  • 22Bringing Your Files with You Learn how you can bring your computer files and folders with you wherever you go.
  • 23Using Accessibility Features Here’s how to use your computer’s various accessibility functions.

Computer basics for adults

Computer basics for adults to help at school and in the workplace

Read and Spell blogComputer basics for adults

For adults who lack familiarity with computers, life in the modern age can be a challenge. That’s because technology is involved in almost every aspect of our lives: we need it for work, school, keeping in touch, day-to-day task management, remote education and even online shopping.

Being able to use a word processor is required for students and working professionals because formal assignment and written reports must be typed. Referencing and research that used to be done in a library is now largely undertaken via online searches of the worldwide web and academic databases.

You need an email address to sign up for new services, make online purchases, apply for jobs and education programs, and communicate with friends and family. Even something as simple as locating a suitable local tradesman is more efficient when done through an online search vs. looking in the yellow pages.

And while tablets and smartphones account for a large portion of our daily technology use, computers are still an important tool.

Thankfully adult basic skills courses exist to help learners achieve the tech-fluency they need to feel more comfortable using computers and many local libraries and community centers offer free introductory programs too.

There are two areas educators typically focus on: one is developing familiarity with the hardware of a computer – monitor, mouse, keyboard, USB memory stick etc. – and the other is building an understanding of how different types of software work – including using Microsoft Windows or a Mac Operating System to navigate Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Accessing email, using search engines, joining social media platforms (e.g. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter), and data management will also likely be covered, along with any specific programs that the person requires for work or school.

Once an adult learner feels comfortable with the basics, they may also want to understand more about sharing files, avoiding viruses, dealing with crashes, using shortcuts, backing up their data and regular maintenance to keep computers running efficiently.

Some users may even decide to take a typing course to improve their keyboarding skills and make it easier and faster to write on the computer. Learn more about the benefits of learning how to type and our top 10 tips for beginner typists in these posts. 

Who can benefit from instruction?

Many students who attend computer basic skills classes are older adults who were not introduced to computer technology at a young age. It may also be a matter of income. Personal computers are simply not affordable for everyone, especially low-income families. Without a computer at home to practice on, an individual must rely on schools and libraries and may end up with less developed skills as a consequence.

Tradesmen who work with their hands are also more likely to struggle using a computer given they will have averaged less time in front of a screen than someone who works in an office. In certain cases adults with undiagnosed language based learning difficulties may avoid computers because of low confidence when it comes to reading and spelling skills.

Teaching adults how to use a computer

Teaching adults about computers

If a family member or friend needs help using a computer you may consider providing some instruction yourself.

Just remember that it can sometimes be a challenge, especially if you grew up using computers and have forgotten what it was like to be a total beginner.

Nonetheless, with a step-by-step approach and plenty of patience, you’ll be able to impart some useful knowledge.

Try these tips to get started:

  1. Find out how much they know. It’s pretty hard to avoid computers altogether so find out how much the individual knows. Have they ever had to use a computer? Have they seen other people using them? Do they have their own device or have access to a shared computer on which to learn? Are they thinking of getting one?
  2. Ask them about their goals. While you’re at it you might also want to learn more about the individual’s goals. It’s helpful to know why someone wants to improve their tech skills so you can better focus your instruction once the basics have been presented. It could be a learner would like to get on Facebook to connect with old friends, or they may want to run Skype calls to talk to grandkids. In some cases computer skills are just the first step in opening up access to home education software that can be used to improve language and literacy skills or enrolling in a distance education program.
  3. Talk through the hardware. While children are naturally inclined to learn through experimentation, adults may want things explained before they are comfortable enough trying it for themselves. Go over the physical parts of a computer and point out important buttons in familiar language. This will help make the machine itself less intimidating.
  4. Introduce new vocabulary terms. You may not realize it but computer vocabulary can be quite intimidating if you aren’t familiar with it – consider words like window, tab, cursor, desktop, menu, link, URL, spreadsheet etc. They are part of everyday language but have entirely different meanings in a computer driven context. Encourage adult learners to keep a journal in which they write down any words they are uncertain about and remember to think twice about the language you use when you provide definitions. If possible avoid definitions that contain additional jargon.
  5. Ensure a safe workstation. Explain correct posture for typing and ensure the workstation is properly set up based on the user’s height. In some cases you may want to explore specialized keyboards, for example for individuals with large hands, motor-skills difficulties, or visual impairment. Learn more in our posts on how to avoid wrist injury when typing and the best alternative keyboards.
  6. Adjust the display and audio settings. It’s important that the individual can see the screen properly before you begin. Review font/display size, brightness and color to ensure maximum readability. If hearing impairment is an issue, adjust speakers or headphone settings. Tip: Some fonts are better than others for individuals who struggle with a language based learning difficulty like dyslexia.
  7. Encourage practice with the mouse or touchpad. Have the person practice using the mouse or touchpad, selecting various objects on the desktop and dragging and dropping. Be there to support them as they explore different clicks. You might explain left and right clicking, scrolling, zooming in and out, etc. though this depends on the device they are learning on.
  8. Go over the keyboard. Show them a few commands and important keys, such as the delete key, using shift for capital letters, and control shortcuts for copy and paste.
  9. Teach them how to use a word processor. This includes opening up a new document, typing some text and saving it. Have them take a closer look at the blinking cursor and practice moving it to different places. Copy and paste words, change the font and font size, and add in some formatting such as bold, underline and italics.
  10. Guide them in good practice for file naming and organization. Have you ever met a person who keeps all their files on the desktop? Over time this can slow the computer software down. Teach your learner how to create basic folder structures and save files in a more organized way. You may also point out the various ways to sort and view files inside a folder.
  11. Explain file types. Make a list of the most common file types a person is likely to encounter (.doc, .xls, .pdf, .jpeg, .png, .wav, etc.) and explain more about which file formats can be opened by which programs and software.
  12. Provide plenty of reassurance, encouragement, praise and opportunities to reinforce learning. The more comfortable a learner feels, the more likely they are to take risks and explore the computer environment. Also, keep in mind adults learn through repetition which helps register an action – such as typing a combination of keys or moving the mouse in a particular way – in long-term memory. You may first want to model a basic manoeuvre and then hand the computer over for them to have a go. Try this once while guiding them with voice instructions and a second time just observing as they do it on their own. Tech skills will develop faster the more they practice so try assigning homework too!
  13. Be patient. The worst thing that can happen is your learner becomes tired and frustrated and feels like giving up. You can’t teach it all at once and they can’t learn it all in one day either. Break learning down into sessions and remember to end each lesson on a high note.

Learning how to type

One of the best ways to help an adult learner practice using the computer on a regular basis is to enroll them in a typing course. That’s because they will be working inside a specific software program while also improving their skills.

The Touch-type Read and Spell course has been successfully used to help many learners develop their computer skills. It has a simple and easy to understand interface in which users aren’t faced with too many choices but can just get on with their lessons.

Modules are bite-size to help the person build momentum and for users who struggle with language skills, a program of phonics guides the words being typed to improve reading and spelling skills and boost confidence at the same time.

Software and social media are part of basic computer skills knowledge

The Internet, email, and social media

Computers are one thing but learning about the Internet and how to use a computer to get online and navigate the web is another challenge entirely. Begin by ensuring your learner has mastered the basics and is connected to the Internet then explain and model the difference between Google and typing a URL directly into a browser.

Social media platforms offer surprisingly little guidance on how to use them so you will also want to define key language – e.g. status update, tweet, wall, liking, emojis etc. – and then create an account and help the person set up their profile.

To do this it may also be necessary to open a basic email account first and perhaps practice sending and receiving emails. Lastly, be sure to explain logging in, logging out and passwords – especially the importance of writing them down somewhere in case they are forgotten!

how to learn computer easily


5 Free and Easy Ways to Improve Your Computer Skills

With technology becoming more and more prevalent in the workplace, it’s more important than ever to have basic computer hardware and software skills. There are some basic computer skills every worker needs to have.

An employer will be looking for computer skills on your resume, and that means you need to be able to know how to use a computer when you’re on the job.

Here are 5 free and easy way to improve your computer skills.

1. Identify what you need to learn.

Most likely, you only have so much free time that you can dedicate to learning a new skill. Accordingly, it’s important to use that time wisely. Whether you’re looking to pivot your career or level up within your current field, analyzing the job description of your ideal position is a great way to identify what skills employers are looking for, as well as the tools you should know how to use.

Tip: The “Requirements” section of a job description is generally a good place to find this information.

Networking is another great way to discover what technical skills other people in your field have, or what software and apps they use on a day-to-day basis. This can be accomplished with a simple question, such as “Have you learned any new skills lately that have helped you in your job?,” or “What’s your favorite software or app that use regularly for work?”

In addition, you can also find much of this information online. If you are a customer service representative, for example, you might search for “customer service software.” Keep an eye out for the specific products that appear in your results. Capterra, a software review company, is another helpful resource for identifying common tools in your trade.

Not sure where to start? The specific skills you need are highly dependent on your position and your field, but you can familiarize yourself with this list of top computer skills to start out. Also review some of the best skills to include on your resume.

2. Start with the basics—and ensure you know how to use a computer.

While this goes without saying, before you learn any specialized technical skills, at the very least you need a fundamental understanding of how to use a computer—ideally, both a Windows or Mac. There are many free resources online. Sites like Lifewire, for example, are very helpful in providing comprehensive tutorials.

These days, it’s pretty common to find free (or affordable) computer training events. Check with your local library, community center or community college to see what they have to offer. In addition, you can take free Mac courses at an Apple store near you.

If you’re working in an office role, consider getting certified in Microsoft Office to improve your skills and add value to your resume.

3. Familiarize yourself with an understanding of how computers (and the Internet) work.

While this goes without saying, before you learn any specialized technical skills, at the very least you need a fundamental understanding of what a computer it is and how it works. In some cases, it can be helpful to learn how the Internet works, too.

Now, do you need master computer science? Absolutely not. But, having an elementary understanding of how the technology that you use functions provides a strong foundation for future learning. Here is a list of some free online computer skills lessons that you can start with:

  • Computer Basics for Absolute Beginners – from GCF Learn Free (Free)
  • Internet Basics for Absolute Beginners – from GCF Learn Free (Free)
  • Computer Science 101 – from Stanford University  (Free)
  • How the Internet Works – from Khan Academy (Free)
  • G Suite Training Center (for Google Apps) – from Google (Free)

4. Take a free online or-in person computer course.

There are many free resources available, both offline and online. Be sure to check out offerings in your community, such as at your local library, community center, community college or YMCA. You can also search on sites like Meetup or Eventbrite for educational events or groups. If you live in Los Angeles, New York City or Chicago, CourseHorse is another excellent resource.

If you’d rather learn tech skills for free online, there are plenty of ways to do so! You should be able to search on YouTube for pretty much anything you want to know. If you’re looking for a more formal learning experience, you can find tons of free college-level courses online on sites like Coursera, EdX and Class-Central. You can also find free, introductory courses on sites like Khan Academy, Codecademy, and Free Code Camp.

5. Apply the knowledge and get hands-on practice.

If a job description requests familiarity with a specific tool, try to see if there’s way to get hands-on experience. For example, say a position requires that you know how to use Trello, a project management tool. You could consider ways you might be able to integrate Trello in your current position. If this is not possible, perhaps there’s a case where you could use it in your personal life—like for planning a trip.

Get as creative as possible. Need to learn how to use Google Calendar? Start using it to plan and schedule your families’ appointments and activities. Need to know how to use Skype? Create an account and use it to make a video call with someone you haven’t talked to in awhile.

Alternately, if you are learning a skill like graphic design, web design or development, there are many ways to practice: you can enter contests on 99Designs, or solicit gigs on Fiverr, for example.

If you need to be familiar with a paid tool or software then you cannot gain access to, look to see if that app offers a demo or has any training videos on its website. At the very least, you’ll have a chance to garner a basic familiarity with the structure and functionality of the software

Remember, you should always be honest with an employer about your skills and abilities. Don’t oversell your skills. If you’re lacking a skill that is listed in the job description, you can always mention that it is something you are currently learning (or intend to learn), and emphasize your ability to pick up new skills quickly.

Bonus tip: Does your company offer an education stipend?

Be sure to check if your company offers any stipends for their employees’ professional development. There are a lot of high-quality online learning programs available for relatively low costs – LinkedIn Learning, for example, is a great option.

Top Free Online Computer Classes

Free Online Computer Courses

Are you interested in learning the basics of computer programming or brushing up on your skills? Maybe you’re considering pursuing a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in computer programming but you’re not yet sure if it’s the right major for you. Check out this list of online free computer training resources for a step in the right direction. These resources include free computer courses for adults as well as free computer software classes.

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Students and educators can access thousands of previously taught MIT courses through MIT’s OpenCourseWare (OCW) project. Materials may vary, but usually include a syllabus, readings and assignments, lecture notes, learning activities and exams. These self-paced courses are free to browse, download, and share with friends. However, they are not moderated and do not award credit for completion. Courses like the following might be a good way to preview college-level programming coursework:

  • Introduction to Computer Science and Programming in Python: Designed as an introduction to the conceptual and practical basics of programming, students of this course can write their own small programs with Python 3.5. Resources include in-class questions and video solutions to accompany each lecture.
  • Introduction to Computational Thinking and Data Science: This offering is the follow-up to the above course and builds on the concept of using computer programming to help solve problems. It includes assignments plus additional Python resources.

2. edX

edX was developed by MIT and Harvard University as a collection of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) from over 140 colleges and universities all over the world. Courses are self-paced and include all required materials, though students may pay an additional fee for extras like graded coursework and a certificate of completion. Course availability varies, but can include offerings like:

  • CS50’s Introduction to Game Development: Offered by HarvardX, this 12-week course takes a comprehensive look at how video games are created and covers the use of common programming languages like Lua and C#.
  • Introduction to C++: Provided by Microsoft, this four-week course contains four modules designed to introduce students to programming in C++. It includes instruction in syntax and language fundamentals, as well as working with functions.
  • Java Fundamentals for Android Development: Offered by Universidad Galileo (GalileoX), students can learn basic Java application development skills. In addition to receiving an overview of Java programming, students learn how to work with the Android SDK and prepare for the Google Associate Android Developer Certification Exam.

3. The Open University – OpenLearn

Students can access thousands of free educational materials through OpenLearn, the free learning platform by The Open University (OU). Courses are available in a range of subjects and difficulty levels and are self-paced. Registration is optional, but it allows students to access a record of any completed courses. A sample of free online computer courses available on OpenLearn include:

  • Learn to Code for Data Analysis (Introductory)
  • Simple Coding (Introductory)
  • Modelling Object-Oriented Software – An Introduction (Intermediate)
  • An Introduction to Software Development (Advanced)
  • Software and the Law (Advanced)

4. Carnegie Mellon University – Open Learning Initiative

Carnegie Mellon University is one of the top schools for computer programming in the United States and has made some free online computer courses available for independent learners on its Open Learning Initiative (OLI) website. OLI courses are free and contain all necessary materials (such as activities, lectures, and learning objectives), but they are entirely self-guided and not eligible for college credit. Students may complete coursework in topics like:

  • Introduction to Programming in Java
  • Principles of Computation with Python
  • Media Programming
  • Logic & Proofs

5. Programming Video Tutorials Online

This website offers free video and text tutorials that cover the basics of programming in several languages, including C++, C#, and Java. Videos cover subjects in programming fundamentals, like structure and syntax, variables and operators, conditionals, arrays, strings, functions, and classes. Students can also learn about web programming languages, such as HTML, CSS, PHP, and JavaScript.

6. Introduction to Programming Using Java

Students may freely access or download the online version of this textbook written by David J. Eck, currently on its eighth edition (as of July 2019). Geared towards beginning Java programmers, this book begins with an introduction to how computers work, moving into the functions of object-oriented programming and the Java Virtual Machine. Students can then learn how to write, compile and run their own Java programs, starting with very simple exercises to more complex applications. Each chapter has its own quiz and activities (with solutions), and source codes are provided for all examples appearing in the book.

7. is a free computer training resource that features tutorials in Java, plus web programming languages like HTML, CSS and PHP. These tutorials are self-paced and divided into chapters that focus on a specific subject, like variables, loops, strings, object-oriented programming, and creating interactive events. Each chapter includes example code and explanations, while quizzes are also available for self-assessment. Absolute newbies can get started with the website’s own Introduction to Computer Programming, a course that explains the more basic concepts, terms, and how-tos of writing code.

8. Google Developers – Google’s Python Class

Students who already have some programming knowledge can deepen their understanding of Python with this free online course from Google Developers. It includes a mix of text and video lectures, plus coding exercises so students can hone their programming skills while learning the language. Beginning with a chapter on installing Python and course materials, students can learn about Python syntax, operators, classes, iteration, regular expressions, and more.

9. freeCodeCamp

On, students who are interested in front end programming (such as HTML and Javascript) can learn correct syntax and form through interactive coding lessons and projects. This nonprofit website is community supported and all-inclusive, so there’s no need to download or install any additional software to complete the coursework. also features a community forum for additional help. Students can complete courses on their own time and, after registering with the website, work towards earning free certification in these subject areas and more:

  • Responsive Web Design (300 hours, 5 projects): Includes courses in basic HTML, CSS, design and accessibility, and responsive web design principles
  • Javascript Algorithms and Data Structures (300 hours, 5 projects): Includes courses in Javascript and ES6, debugging, algorithm scripting, and object-oriented programming
  • Front End Libraries (300 hours, 5 projects): Includes lessons and activities in Bootstrap, jQuery, React, Sass, and Redux
  • Coding Interview Prep (Thousands of hours): Includes practice for common algorithms one may be required to know for a job interview, plus programming challenges designed to hone one’s skills, such as Rosetta Code and Project Euler problems.

10. CodeAcademy

Students looking for an interactive coding experience they can take anywhere might want to give CodeAcademy a try. It allows students to develop practical programming skills by building projects with Java, C++, Python, and more, right on the website; no need to download a separate development environment. While CodeAcademy has a number of optional paid courses and projects, students may also choose from a wide variety of free courses, including:

  • Learn Java
  • Learn C#
  • Learn Ruby
  • Learn Statistics with Python
  • Learn the Command Line
  • Learn Git

11. Odin Project

The Odin Project is an online resource designed to provide free computer science education to anyone interested in taking online computer courses. Motivated by the belief that education should be free and accessible to everyone, the Odin Project seeks to teach computer science through hands-on, computer-based projects and collaboration with others. The Odin Project provides an extensive curriculum that allows you to learn languages like HTML, CSS, and Javascript. The projects you complete throughout this curriculum will also be valuable to your portfolio as a developing computer programmer. Here are some of the free courses offered by this website:

  • HTML + CSS
  • JavaScript
  • Git
  • Databases
  • Ruby
  • NodeJs
  • Getting Hired

12. SkillShare

SkillShare is another resource that offers computer courses for beginners online free of charge. SkillShare focuses on computer-based design skills and other techniques for creating. Their courses are taught by real creators, artists, designers, and writers, and they offer opportunities to complete projects where you can showcase the skills you have learned. The basic curriculum on SkillShare is free, but there is also a premium version that offers access to more resources for a membership fee. If you’re interested in building your computer skills in the context of animation, design, or film, then the courses on SkillShare may be what you need to get started. Some of the fields you can study through SkillShare are:

  • Animation
  • Design
  • Illustration
  • Photo and Film

Pros and Cons of Free Online Computer Classes

With so many different resources for online free computer training courses, it can be difficult to choos what is the best place to learn basic computer skills. Some things to consider when you are choosing include what programming languages you want to learn, your ultimate goals involving computer programming (what you ultimately want to use the skills you develop for), and the way in which you learn best (hands-on projects, watching others, collaboration). The table below highlights some of the pros and cons of each resource described in this article to make your selection easier.

Free Computer ClassesProsCons
MIT OpenCourseWareVariety of self-paced coursesCourses are not moderated and don’t award credit
edXSelf-paced courses developed by top universitiesAdditional fees apply for graded coursework and certificate
The Open University – OpenLearnVariety of courses and difficulty levelsRegistration required for record of completed courses
Carnegie Mellon University Open Learning InitiativeTop school for computer programmingNot eligible for college credit
Programming Video Tutorials OnlineCover basics of many different languagesVideo and text lessons not hands on
Introduction to Programming Using JavaComprehensive online textbook for JavaOnly teaches one language
LandOfCode.comIn-depth coverage of basic topicsDoes not offer certificate
Google Python ClassFrom a leader in the tech industryOnly teaches Python
freeCodeCampInteractive lessons and projects; can get certificateLong courses may require prior knowledge
CodeAcademyInteractive coding experiences; practical skills taught in a variety of languagesMust have paid membership for certificate
Odin ProjectInteractive courses, opportunities to network with peersLengthy curriculum
SkillShareGood resources in design and animationDoesn’t offer programming fundamentals outside of design field

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