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Computer Literacy Topics

Computer Literacy Lesson Topics by Software Package

  • computer lab rules, hardware and software
  • Windows basics: on/off, windows, menus, calculator
  • Windows tour and windows help
  • chat
  • word processing: keyboard, basics
  • word processing: files and folders
  • word processing: basic formatting
  • word processing: wizards/experts
  • Creative Writer
  • card file or Hypercard
  • typing tutorial
  • spreadsheets: basic data entry
  • spreadsheets: formatting
  • spreadsheets: formulas like sum, average
  • spreadsheets: wizards/experts
  • draw/paint
  • Fine Artist
  • hypertext encyclopaedia (Encarta 97)
  • web browser (Netscape, Internet Explorer)
  • electronic mail (Eudora)
  • newsgroups, discussion groups, and/or listservers
  • educational games (hangman, spelling, scrabble, quiz games, SimCity, etc.)

Some Computer Literacy Lessons I Gave in 1997

  • Chat: Have a written conversation with the person next to you.
  • Windows 95 tour: Take the tour and follow the instructions.
  • Word processing: Write a few sentences about yourself and your interests, save it in a file in your folder, close it, and open it to verify that it was saved.
  • word processing (jobapp.doc): Write a letter applying for job information, based on the one shown on the overhead screen.
  • word processing (cv.doc): Write your own CV, based on the one shown on the overhead screen. (2 lessons)
  • spreadsheet (sums.wk4): Type in the numbers shown on the screen and write formulas to sum the rows and columns. The numbers make a magic square, so all rows and columns should add up to the same number.
  • spreadsheet (marks.wk4): Enter formulas to find the sums and averages of student term marks.
  • spreadsheet (carsales.wk4): Use formulas to make calculations using car sales data.
  • spreadsheet (profit.wk4): Use formulas to calculate quarterly and yearly profits given company data.
  • spreadsheet (africa.wk4): Sort the spreadsheet alphabetically by country, capital city, currency, or leader.
  • spreadsheet (namibpeo.wk4): Produce different types of charts and graphs using the given data.
  • graphics (graphing.bas and graphing.doc): Practice plotting different mathematical functions.
  • database (friends.xls): Create a database with information about your friends.
  • paint: Draw 10 different shapes, fill them with 10 different colours, and label the shapes and colours.
  • paint: Make a picture of a house.

Computer Literacy Lesson Topics for Teachers by Software Package

  • computer lab rules and supervising students
  • starting and ending all the different types of programs on the computer
  • thinking of computer teaching ideas for your subject
  • using desktop publishing to create class newsletter/newspaper
  • using presentation software (e.g. PowerPoint) to enhance lectures
  • using web authoring (e.g. Netscape, FrontPage) and HTML coding to make information available to students
  • scanning photographs and using photo editing software
  • scanning text and using optical character recognition software
  • using spreadsheets to calculate grades
  • using database to print report cards
  • using mail merge to print testimonials
  • adding your own questions about your subject to a quiz program database

Computer Literacy Lesson Hints

  • When first introducing an application, everyone should follow the teacher's set procedure. Later, students can work on their own, at their own pace and level, and the teacher can give individual help.
  • The students should have a specific objective, to produce something that can be saved and evaluated, such as a letter, essay, drawing, or spreadsheet, so that learning the software has some worthwhile context.
  • Display overheads listing commonly used commands and functions.
  • Display overheads listing step-by-step instructions.
  • Display overheads showing how screen should look, clearly labelling each part of the screen.
  • Use teacher computer and an LCD projection panel to demonstrate all steps in the procedure.

Teaching Ideas by Software Package and Subject

Word Processing

  • English: Make corrections to a document designed by the teacher with commonly made errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, formatting, etc.
  • English: Write a letter to the Principal suggesting one improvement to make in the school.
  • English: Write a consumer complaint, order, product ad/brochure, lost/found ad, etc.
  • English: Write a letter applying for a job or bursary.
  • English: Create your own CV with personal information, objective, education, work history, awards, extra-curriculars, interests, and references.
  • English: Write a short story, essay, magazine article summary, book report, newspaper article, etc. that is well-formatted and organised with no spelling or punctuation mistakes, using the computer to make corrections.
  • English: Keep a journal that must have at least one entry per week.

Draw and Paint

  • art: Draw a picture of a house, person, village, car, animal, plant.
  • art: Design an industrial product, building, or wallpaper tiling.
  • art: Design a logo or crest for family, class, school, town, product advertisement, etc.
  • geography: Draw a labelled map of the school or area.
  • mathematics: Draw a labelled floor plan of a school room, building, house or shop according to actual measurements.
  • English: Make a cartoon where the characters' speeches are written in balloons.
  • English: Design a poster for a public issue campaign, like AIDS awareness or litter.
  • publishing/English: Create a greeting card, party invitation, or announcement.
  • graphics/extra-curricular: Enter a computer art contest on a given topic.

LAN or Internet

  • encyclopaedia or web browser/any subject: Students search for information on their choice of a topic (related to the class subject like history and within a specific area like 19th Century China) and write a report or short summary in their own words or complete a worksheet with specific questions.
  • web authoring/English: Using a template web page, each student creates and fills in categories, such as personal information, subjects, favourite subjects, hobbies and interests, career goal, personal philosophy, picture, links to friends, CV.
  • newsgroup/any subject: Students must post at least one message per week on a given question/topic or comment on the course content; responses will be discussed in groups or in writing.
  • chat or newsgroup/English: Students log in anonymously and try to identify other students by their writing style, personality, interests, etc.
  • e-mail/English: Students e-mail at least one diary entry per week to the teacher, who replies with comments.
  • e-mail or newsgroup/English: Groups of 5 students work together to create drafts of a group document about a subject, perhaps to make an encyclopaedia article.
  • e-mail/English: Student reviews another student's work, and send comments to the author and teacher.
  • e-mail or newsgroup/any subject: Students collaborate with another class or school to produce a paper or project of their choice.
  • web browsers and e-mail/English: Students read a passage and submit answers to questions (true/false, multiple choice, and/or short answer) about the passage using a Web form which is automatically e-mailed to the teacher or saved on the file server.


  • word processor, spreadsheet, or graphics: Format and improve the layout of a table, chart or diagram.
  • spreadsheet/math and science: Collect experimental measurements, enter them into a table, find the average or sum, graph the results, write a conclusion; e.g. heat loss, ticker timer, body measurements, period of pendulum, spring constant, Ohm's law, population growth, sports statistics, survey of townspeople.
  • spreadsheet/accounting: invoice, account statement, business/trip budget, income statement, purchase order, estimated personal monthly expenditures
  • educational/mathematics: Work through drills on a specific topic e.g. fractions.
  • computer magazines/English: Find an advertisement and answer questions about it.
  • presentation/any subject: Make a multimedia presentation with colour, music, animation, etc. to present a lecture on a theoretical topic instead of using chalkboard or overheads. Give handouts so no copying is needed; leave space for students to add notes.
  • speech recognition/English: have students compare their pronunciation with a native speaker's; see how well the program recognises their speech

Ideas for Handouts

  • list of most commonly used commands and functions for each software package
  • computer vocabulary/glossary of terms and definitions
  • syllabus: what the student must know for the exams
  • scheme of work: year or term outline of topics that will be covered, homework assignments, tests, exams
  • book references: pages to read/study/know
  • review sheets
  • project ideas to choose from

Ideas for Posters and Displays by Students and/or Teachers

  • history of computers
  • uses of computers
  • computer careers
  • hardware (input, output, storage, processing)
  • software
  • computer art
  • computer-aided design
  • computers and communication
  • robots
  • modelling and simulation
  • expert systems
  • computer ethics
  • computer lab rules
  • computer-printed items from everyday life: bar codes, invoices, receipts, bank statements, library searches, junk mail, etc.
  • discarded equipment
  • exemplary student work
  • magazine pictures and articles about computers
  • computer designs
  • clip art
  • photocopies from computer books, magazines, newspapers
  • any computer printout can be expanded to poster size using a photocopier and A3 paper

Ideas for Web pages

  • school administration: class schedules and timetables, year plan, exam timetables, school rules
  • course materials: homeworks, syllabi, schemes of work, programs related to subjects, past exams
  • scanned pictures of students, school, area
  • links to Internet educational sites around the world
  • on-line bulletin boards for each class, and topics within a class
  • use Internet Explorer 4 to describe the contents of each computer directory as if it were a web page
  • use mailto: links to encourage electronic mail as a way to get students to ask questions that would be difficult to ask in person