Essential Computer Skills All Students Need

Sep 25, 2018 by

Gone are the days of chalkboards, college-ruled notebooks, and tape recorders. Technology has invaded the classroom from tablets and computers to interactive games and parent portals. Whether or not you think this change is a positive one, it’s undeniable and one that most students and teachers are seamlessly adjusting to. If you’re new to technology in the classroom or want to ensure your students understand and master basic computer skills, here are a few that you should incorporate into your daily lessons.

Microsoft Programs

From using Microsoft Word for typing research papers to using Powerpoint for presentations or Excel for spreadsheets, students should have a basic understanding of all Microsoft programs. Although there are other programs available, Microsoft is versatile and easily compatible when documents are saved or sent via email. This is perfect for students handing in assignments, saving work to complete at home, or saving files to a desktop or flash drive. Some basic skills to teach students in each of the programs are as follows:


  • Using different fonts and text sizes
  • Adding links to text
  • Inputting clipart, graphs, and tables
  • Saving work
  • Using bullets and other paragraph forms


  • Creating multiple slides
  • Inputting graphics, videos, and photos
  • Creating a well-organized presentation
  • Choosing a format and theme
  • Create interesting animations and transitions


  • Sum or count cells
  • Create a drop down list
  • Sort lists
  • Use a formula to lookup a value
  • Build a Pivot Table

Try planning projects that incorporate these elements like book reports, research papers, group presentations, and graph creation.

Photo Editing and Graphic Design

Although photo editing and design isn’t a necessary skill for all students, it certainly is a helpful one. Programs like Adobe Spark allow students to do create countless masterpieces of visual art. Using these types of programs, students can create web stories, animated videos, posts for social media, and other graphics. These skills can come in very handy when it comes to creating presentations or even for those students exploring a career in marketing, website design or graphics. These skills are easily incorporated into an art or design class but can also be explored during presentations and projects where instructors require animation, videos, or photos.

Internet Research

Sadly, the days of the Dewey Decimal System are long gone. Sure, there are some resources and materials that cannot be replaced on a computer. Things like actual artifacts, newspaper clippings, sound bites, and other archived materials. But for the most part, if you need to find something out, the internet will have your answer. Although using Google is second nature to most students, there are other databases and search engines that students should be familiar with to perform scholarly research. Some websites include:

  • EndNote
  • EduGeeksClub
  • RefWorks
  • Paperpile
  • DeepDyve

During the research process it’s also important to discuss reputable sites versus non-reputable ones and plagiarism.

Digital Communication

Who knew that composing an email would be so important? But now more than ever people are turning to digital communication for all their needs. And truth be told, most students don’t know how to craft a proper, professional email. All too often students defer to using the same acronyms and abbreviations they use in text messages for their emails. This isn’t the right impression students should give to teachers, professors, colleges or potential employers. Teaching email etiquette is something that will serve students well in the future. Other digital communication to consider is social media posts and other chat apps.

What’s popular now in terms of classroom technology may not be popular in a few months. That’s because technology and how it’s used is constantly changing and involving. Incorporating these basic computer skills in your lessons is truly an investment in the student’s future and a step toward equipping them with the skills they need to succeed.

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