Lesson 1: Computers are only as good as the person using them!

A tale…

A shepherd was herding his flock in a remote pasture when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced out of the dust cloud and pulled up beside him. The driver, a young man in a crisp suit and designer sunglasses, leaned out of the window and asked the shepherd,

“If I tell you exactly how many sheep you have in your flock, will you give me one?”

The shepherd gazed at the man quizzically, then looked at his peacefully grazing flock and calmly answered,

“Sure.”

The young man parked his car, whipped out his laptop and tethered it to his mobile phone; he surfed to a NASA webpage where he called up a GPS satellite navigation system, scanned the area, imported it into a database and used complex formulae in an Excel spreadsheet for analysis. He sent an email on his Blackberry to confirm and, after a few minutes, received a response. Finally, he prints out a 150-page report on his miniaturised printer and turns to the shepherd saying,

“You have exactly 1586 sheep.”

“That is correct; take one of the sheep,” said the shepherd.

He watches the young man select one of the animals and bundle it into his car. Then the shepherd said:

“If I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my animal?”

“OK, why not,” answered the young man.

“Clearly, you are a consultant,” said the shepherd.

“That’s correct,” says the man in the crisp suit, “but how did you guess that?”

“Well,” answers the shepherd, “you turned up here although nobody called you. You want to get paid for an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked, and you know nothing about my business. Now give me back my dog.

Lessons learned…

TechComicThe moral to this particular tale is indeed my byline and modus operandi for the IT Training program as a whole, “Using Technology Effectively”. Bristling technology alone is not enough! Those who have come on the regularly offered IT training courses have found, in the words of one participant, “the ratio between time invested and knowledge gained is excellent,” and that this investment can return substantial dividends can be seen from the following less apocryphal tale:

Learn to use technology effectively (reprinted by permission Marty Bucella)

“The IT training courses offered by CAPOD in the GRADskills development program have been particularly enriching for me during the first year of my PhD studies in International Relations at St Andrews. These skills are directly relevant to thesis writing, presentations, publications, and career related activities. For example, having taken Microsoft Excel, I can now construct charts and manage data in spreadsheets more quickly and confidently. Drawing on the Microsoft Powerpoint training, I amended my thesis slides and made them more legible for the audience. The feedback from the local PG X-Change, and international conferences in Cambridge and Nottingham, revealed that my presentation is now distinctively professional. The IT transferable skills training offers nuanced insights on how to use technology even more effectively.”

Nino Kereselidze, PhD Student, School of International Relations

Make the change, make a difference…

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