Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Online portfolio users new to computers must get familiar with these new terms and processes.

Written for Visual Arts or Design learners new to online portfolio page creation and computers.

As a learner who wants to create one online portfolio (or more), but has not been taught computer courses and may have limited access to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in school and home, you need to learn about the new terms and processes involved in working digitally. This post was written to help you better prepare for these:

1. Getting familiar with new words, acronyms, symbols and signs in online portfolio creation.
If you are used to working on paper and canvas, the move to working on a computer screen involves learning new words (such as 'screen resolution'), acronyms (like DPI), symbols (i.e. ©) and signs (e.g. @) and new processes (such as 'file editing and saving'). It is useful to ask your educator to provide definitions if you do not understand what he or she is talking about to avoid misunderstanding what is being taught. You can also research almost any word, acronym, symbol or sign's definition using Google and other search engines:

1.1 New words
It is important to understand the words used for online portfolio page design elements (such as uniform resource locator, title, header, body, footer, et al.) as your educator is likely to provide you with guidelines for each choice. If you don't know the terms he or she refers to in lessons, you may struggle to understand the reasoning behind the guidelines. Please ask your educator if you need further help or you can find out what new words mean by using a search engine; simply type in the word you want to know, a plus (+) sign, then the word definition straight after (i.e. type 'uniform+resource+locator definition' into www.google.co.za). If you can spare the time, it's best to read through several results to gain a broader understanding of the word's definitions and usage. {You should also read my post on 'Online portfolio page design element questions to help you in creating a better one', as it lists these elements with important questions on your use of them}.

1.2 New acronyms
Acronyms are heavily used in ICT and those you will encounter when creating your online portfolio will fall under the categories including: imagery digitization (DPI, OCR); file format selection (JPG, GIF, PNG); internet-use (WWW, HTTP, .COM) and screen display sizes (W, H). Please ask your educator to explain the acronyms you do not know, or search for them (for example, type 'JPG+definition into google.com and click to its top results).

1.3 New symbols
The symbols you are most likely to encounter in online portfolio use are © for copyright,   for trademark and ® for registered trademark. If you encounter others, ask your teacher for help. It is also useful to get help with sourcing special symbols when typing in your computer's word processing software and via your browser. You can then also ask to be shown how to cut-and-paste these into your  online portfolio.

1.4 New signs
A sign you will definitely use is the at sign (@) in creating your email address (i.e. @gmail.com). You may want to experiment with signs for emoticon creation {i.e. listening to music d(-_-)b}, too}!

2 New processes
If you are new to working with a computer, you should sit close to a more knowledgeable peer or your teacher to get help with; using its keyboard, editing and saving files, using relevant software, accessing your lab's network and installing drivers for your own device(s):

2.1 Working with a keyboard
Be sure you get help if you are struggling to type what you intended to. Pressing a "wrong" button just once on your keyboard can create very irritating results: 'Caps lock' will capitalize all your text; 'Num lock' can prevent you entering numbers; and 'Ins' can lead to you typing over content you didn't intend to. You may also need to be shown by your educator or peers how to select alternate keys (such as the symbols above your numeric keyboard) using the relevant key combinations for your operating system and its software.

2.2 Editing and saving files
You probably have already used a mobile phone to edit and save pictures and search through these. But on moving to a shared computer in a lab, saving, editing and accessing these files often becomes more complicated, because your lab's computer is setup for many users with more complicated file paths. Your educator should show you how to setup and access a folder on the desktop where you can save your online portfolio-related work securely.

2.3 Using your computer's relevant software
In digitizing imagery, you may need to edit its size, colour balance and resolution. Ask your educator or computer lab's manager to show you which software is available for this; your computer may have a basic image editing and management software (like Microsoft Picture Manager) pre-installed or more advanced software like Graphic Image Manipulation Program, Corel Photo Paint or Adobe Photoshop.

2.4 Accessing your lab's computer network
If you are scanning imagery at a different computer from the one you normally use and wish to copy it across, you should ask your educator or lab manager to show you how to access the lab's network and copy your scanned image(s) across. This is also useful if you have to use a different computer from the one you normally have access to.
  
2.5 Installing drivers for your own devices
If you bringing your own device to class, you should bring the device's software drivers and a storage device (like a USB flash drive), too. Hopefully, your school lab's computers are up-to-date enough to install the driver and link to your device. If not, you should ask to be given access to the lastest  computer at your school, so that you can install the relevant driver, download your files, save them to your storage device and transfer them to your personal folder.

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