• Using a computer

    A computer is much more than just another conventional device. The wealth of information and possibilities it offers can be overwhelming, but there is a lot to achieve with a computer, and using it can be a good experience. The following are some basic things a user can do.

    Learning a new programme

    In the following modules, new programmes and apps are introduced, which support creative media education with children and are very helpful. Not all of them are explained in detail, but only recommended. Therefore, it makes sense to take a look at how to learn a new programme yourself.

    At the beginning, using a new computer programme may seem overwhelming, but remember that you already know more than you think. Even if the screen in front of you looks completely unknown, everything you've learned about your computer and other programmes so far will help you figure out what to do next. If you spend more time with a new programme, it will feel more familiar.

    The first thing to do when opening a new programme is to look for familiar features. It may not be immediately obvious, but most computer programmes have certain basic functions in common – things that have been learned with one programme will help you when learning a new one. For example, many key combinations remain the same from one programme to another. Most programmes also have file and editing menus, and they're usually in the same place: at the top of the screen, either as a drop-down menu or in a menu bar. The file and edit menus usually contain similar functions in each programme. Knowing that the print function is displayed in the file menu in Microsoft Word allows a first idea where to search it in other programmes.

    Even if you switch from a PC to a Mac or vice versa, the key combinations remain largely the same. Simply replace the Command key on a Mac with the Ctrl key on a PC. For example, the key combination for the Cut function is Ctrl+X on a PC and Command+X on a Mac.

    When searching in a new programme for some functions but cannot find them, it can help to search for hidden menu bars. Many programmes have toolbars, sidebars or panels that can be hidden or made visible, and they are often hidden by default when starting the programme.

    If you can't find a feature you need, look for hidden toolbars or the help function.

    If the programme to be used contains many unknown elements or if there is a function which is simply unknown, stay calm. There are still some simple things to do to find a way around a programme.

    Software companies know that most users will have questions about how to use their programmes, so they include built-in help features. Normally it is possible to access the help function of a programme by clicking on a help menu (sometimes represented by a question mark symbol) at the top of the screen. It provides instructions on how to proceed, troubleshooting tips, and answers to frequently asked questions. Some help features even include links to online help forums where users can post answers to each other's questions.

    Picture 15: Word help function

    If you don’t find an answer in the help section of a programme, try searching Google for a solution. You'll probably find tutorials or posts from other users that explain how to use this programme. You can also search YouTube for video tutorials about the programme you are using.

    Transfer Files to the Computer

    In the following modules and also in the practical instructions, it will be mentioned again and again that photos, videos or other files can be loaded from a medium, e.g. from a tablet to a computer.

    The first step is to connect the media device on which the files are stored (e.g. the digital camera, tablet or smartphone) to the computer. The easiest way is to connect the device to the computer via a USB cable.

    Picture 16: USB cable (left) and USB port (right)

    For the Windows operating system, the device should be displayed under "Computer" / "My PC" or under "Devices and drives". To get to the directory of the chosen device, double-click on the displayed device on the screen. It is possible that the device (often with PIN-protected smartphones or tablets) must first be unlocked. For newer tablets and smartphones (with the Android operating system), a message "Device is charging via USB" also appears on the device screen. Click for more options. Here it is possible to select how the device is to be used via USB. By selecting "Transfer files" it is possible to access all data of the device.

    Picture 17: Access and Transfer Data

    Then the appropriate folder must be selected. In this case photo files should be transferred from a smartphone to the computer. In the directory for the device, several folders are now available on the computer. Photos are located in the folder DCIM (Digital Camera Image), which is opened by double-clicking.

    Picture 18: How to transfer photos

    Now the photos can be copied from the device memory to the computer. To do so, mark all the photos to be copied. One way is to mark all photos by making a "frame" with the mouse around all photos. Now the photos can be copied with the right mouse button into the desired folder of the computer. By right-clicking on the marker, a small window opens. Now clicking with the left mouse button on the field "Copy" is possible. The folder into which the photo files are to be copied can then be opened. In the desired folder again click the right mouse button and then select with the left mouse button the option "paste". Now the files are transferred to the computer. Depending on how large the files are and how many files have been selected, this can take some time. In this case, a loading bar opens and shows the transfer progress.

    This way of transferring files from a media device to a Windows computer is just one of many. Copy and paste can also be done using "drag and drop" or keyboard shortcuts. With other operating systems on the computer (e.g. macOS) or the media device (e.g. iOS) things can vary a little.

    Comprehension Questions

    1. What are hidden menu bars?

    2. What can you do by accessing the help menu that the software companies provide?

    3. Explain the procedure of transferring photos from a digital camera to a computer.