Your Computer Skills

In order to study at postgraduate level, a range of computer skills will be needed. In the weeks before you start studying, you are urged to prepare for it, e.g. by getting a stable e-mail address and by learning to search using the Internet more effectively. We are aware, however, that getting access to the Internet for prolonged periods can be a problem for many students. Nevertheless, we strongly urge you to try to organize this access for yourselves: your studies depend on access to scholarly literature.
Below we outline the skills level that will be needed for this course and suggest some ways in which the difficulty of getting access to a computer might be overcome.

The essential computer competences that you will need are as follows:
a. Type assignments using a word processing programme (such as MS Word, Open Office).
This has advantages for you too – it allows you to revise and edit your own work taking less time, and to receive feedback from your lecturer by e-mail.
b. Manage files and folders.
Good housekeeping with regard to your files and folders, their titling and their location can save you lots of time. Set up a system in advance.
c. Send and receive e-mail; attach documents to an e-mail.
We expect you to make use of e-mail for communication with the School, and to have a reliable e-mail address that you use regularly.
d. Use Excel spreadsheets.
This will be a very valuable programme to use in your epidemiology courses, for capturing data.
e. Join and participate in Discussion Forums.
Increasingly, non-synchronous Discussion forums are being used to support our modules. Learning how to join and manage your membership is important to maximize the learning opportunity represented by this forum. Participation is compulsory for most.
f. Use the Internet to search for information
This can be learned at UWC, during Summer or Winter School.
g. Using Mendeley (a free programme on the Internet).
This will allow you to save the literature you find, and to reference the literature accurately.

The UWC Library offers regular training in finding information on topics of your choice using the Internet. If you are in Cape Town for Summer or Winter School, you will be offered a training session; if you are in Cape Town at another time, contact Ms Karen Cook Erasmus (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) at 021 959 2684 to arrange a session.

Here are some of the ways in which past students have managed to strengthen their computer skills and use the library:
● Through your work supervisor, apply to do a computer course in Excel for example, at your workplace.
● Ask a colleague, a student (present or past), your son or daughter or friend to
help you to learn a new programme or search for literature by following the instructions above.
● Ask a more experienced person to show you how to search for literature using the Internet. The same guiding programmes are on the Library website under Self-learning zone, if your Internet access is good.
● Using Google Scholar (not Google) can also be very helpful, but it contains far less than the databases.

School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape
Robert Sobukwe Road, Bellville 7535, Republic of South Africa
Tel: +27-21 - 959 2809 | Fax: +27- 21 - 959 2872 | Email: mppetersen@uwc.ac.za