Using Technology: Ways to Use Computers
A computer is a handy tool for many school assignments. To that end, the following sections focus on some ways you can use a computer in your studies. These include using a computer for writing, doing research, communicating with other students, calculating numeric data, creating charts or graphs, taking digital pictures, shooting videos, and getting extra help.
One of the most common ways people use a computer is as a replacement for the old-fashioned typewriter or pen and paper. Rather than type a paper or write out a paper long-hand, for example, you can use your computer and a word processing program, such as Word, to type it.
Using a word processing program for any kind of written work provides many benefits, including the following.
- You can easily correct mistakes, either as you type (using the Backspace or Delete key) or when you review your work.
- You can reorganize the contents of the writing. Sometimes, when you review your work, you find that one sentence or paragraph belongs before another. Or your conclusion may actually work better as an introduction. With a word processing program, you can easily move information to a different location. You can also delete sentences, paragraphs, and words (to get rid of repetition or to correct mistakes) and copy passages (if you want to use them again in the same or another document).
- You can make formatting changes to improve the appearance of the document. For example, in a research paper, you can make the section headings bold and bigger so that they stand out. You can emphasize new terms by italicizing them. You can create bulleted or numbered lists, add a border to a paragraph, change the page margins, create headers and footers, and more.
- Check your spelling and grammar. You can use the spelling checker to make sure your paper doesn’t include any typographical errors. Most word processing programs also enable you to check your grammar. Note, however, that neither of these tools is foolproof. The spelling checker only flags words it can’t find in its dictionary; it doesn’t know whether you used each word correctly. (For example, the spelling checker won’t flag “their” even if it should be “there.”) The grammar checker also doesn’t catch all errors and may flag sentences that are already correct. So, you still must proofread and correct your work.
- Insert graphic elements. You can also insert pictures, illustrations, graphs, charts, clipart (pre-drawn art), and other visual image files into your document.
- Create outlines. Most programs have an outline feature that helps you type up an outline, which is a great planning tool when writing papers or creating research assignments.
These are the key benefits of using a word processing program. As your assignments get more difficult, you may need to insert footnotes or endnotes or create a Table of Contents. Word processing programs can help create these and other elements.
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