The Internet is a tool, and like all tools it is only as good as the skill of the user. Learning to use the Internet productively takes time and effort. Many new users (newbies) quickly become overwhelmed. One frustration is that there is no single manual or help desk. Another is that it is constantly changing. What's there today, may be gone, moved or changed tomorrow. Traveling the roads of the information highway is similar to traveling geographic roads. There are traffic jams and road construction, breakdowns and litter, breathtaking sites and eyesores. Defensive driving is the rule of the road.
It is said that patience is a virtue - on the Internet it is a necessity! A dedication to continuous learning is a must. For those who master this tool the rewards are great. The Internet will open up a whole new world of opportunities. Initially the learning curve will be steep, but in time you will glide with minimum effort around the highways of cyberspace.
Following are some general Internet tips. They are by no means comprehensive or complete. Of course, the best source of Internet information is the Internet. Links to sites that may help you learn the Internet can be found in the Internet Instruction section of the Minnesota Workforce Center Internet Directory. (http://www.des.state.mn.us/links/direct.htm).
Take Classes - Internet classes and workshops are available through a variety of sources including schools, libraries, private and public training providers. Shop around for the class that best suits your need. Some classes are only about the Internet, while others are hands-on and teach specific skills. Don't take skill building classes until you are ready to begin using the Internet. The training value will be minimized or wasted if you do not practice the skills immediately.
Set aside regular time to explore and learn about the Internet. Be consistent and don't try to learn it all at once. It's better to spend thirty minutes a day, three to five days a week, than four hours once a week.
Read about the Internet. Everything you need to know is on the Internet - so look there first. However, written materials can complement this information and can be read away from your computer. Subscribe to an Internet magazine. Check out books at your local library. Ask other Internet users what books they recommend.
Learn from others. Talk to people you know who are also learning the Internet. They do not need to be "expert." The fact is there are few "expert." Also, check out Internet newsgroups - they are a great place to network with others on the Internet.
Set goals. Before entering cyberspace decide what you want to accomplish. Write your goals down and stick to them. One of the dangers to cybertime is the tendency to wander. On the other hand, randomly discovering new Internet resources is valuable, so don't forget to plan time for exploration.
Set time limits. Before entering cyberspace decide how much time you will spend. Use a timer if necessary.
Avoid prime time. Plan your cybertime when the traffic on the Internet is slow to moderate.
Learn and practice good Internet etiquette. Basic manners will go a long way to enhance your Internet relationships. However, there are many etiquettes that apply specifically to the Internet.
Master the rules of the road. For example, don't travel around the world for something you can get near home.
Learn the language. Use terms correctly and communicate appropriately.
Learn the culture. The Internet has its own culture and subcultures. It is much like going to live in a foreign country. Knowing your way around and where to find things is not enough - you have to understand the culture to fit in. Don't look like a tourist on the Internet.
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This page was last updated on April 17, 1997
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