Applications of ICT in Libraries/Supporting Client Learning

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This page is designed for the use of students undertaking the Diploma (Diploma ICTL) or the Advanced Diploma (Advanced Diploma ICTL) in Applications of ICT in Libraries.

These qualifications were developed by the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) and are validated by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA)

Supporting Client Learning is a core unit in both the Diploma and Advanced Diploma programmes.

Information regarding the background to the courses, content and certification opportunities can be obtained by following the Diploma (Diploma ICTL) or the Advanced Diploma (Advanced Diploma ICTL) links.

Further information can be obtained from angela.lees@sqa.org.uk


Contents

ICT competence and learning goals[edit]

Establishing client competence in use of hardware and software[edit]

The client’s ICT competence clearly affects their ability to use any learning packages available. If ICT skills are lacking, the client may have to undertake some ICT skills development before moving onto their selected learning package. You should determine the client’s ICT competence in relation to both hardware and software.


Your initial task is to find out what sorts of previous experience and competence the client has had with ICT. Typically you might want to explore four areas:


  • hardware
  • operating system environment (normally Windows)
  • using the Internet
  • using applications packages



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Before proceeding:


  • List the hardware items you would enquire about.
  • Note down what you would want to know about each of these items.


Client competence in using hardware[edit]

The main items of hardware which the client is likely to have to use are the:


  • mouse
  • keyboard
  • printer
  • scanner
  • removable media


We look at each of these in turn, giving some specific pointers about what you should ask the client.


The mouse[edit]

You might want to start by finding out the following information:


  • Has the client used a mouse?
  • Is the client aware of the use of the left and right buttons?
  • Is the client aware of hovering over items?
  • (For left handed clients) is the client aware of how to change a mouse from right- to left-handed operation?
  • If the computers in your library use another type of pointing device, such as a tracker ball or touch pad, can the client use this proficiently?


Keyboard[edit]

You might want to start by finding out the following information:


  • Has the client used a keyboard?
  • Does the client know how to use:
    • space and return keys
    • shift and caps lock keys
    • delete and backspace keys
    • cursor (arrow) keys
    • ctrl, tab, esc and insert keys
    • function keys


Printer[edit]

You might want to start by finding out the following information:


  • Has the client used a printer?
  • Is the client aware of any printer processes which are 'specific to your library?
  • Can the client load the printer with paper?
  • Is the client aware of the cost per page of printing (monochrome and colour)?


Scanner[edit]

You might want to start by finding out the following information:


  • Has the client used a scanner?
  • Is the client aware of the routine of pre-scan, select area and scan?
  • Is the client aware of the importance of selecting an appropriate scanning resolution?


Removable media[edit]

Use of removable media, such as floppy disks, CD-ROMs and USB storage (also known as Flash Drives or Pen Drives) will be governed by library rules. If these are allowed you might want to start by finding out the following information:


  • Can the client insert a disk (or other media) properly?
  • Is the client aware of when it is appropriate to remove it?
  • Can the client access media in different drives?
  • Can the client save to writable media?



Operating systems[edit]

We use the term operating system to describe the basic software, such as Microsoft Windows, which makes the computer work. When a computer is switched on, the operating system starts running before any application package such as Word will run. The operating system involves managing applications and data.



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Before proceeding:

  • List the aspects of the operating system you would enquire about.
  • Note down what would you want to know about each aspect.


Previous experience[edit]

You might want to start by finding out the following information:


  • Is the client familiar with the operating system on the computers in your library?


Note that, even within the same library, different computers may have different operating systems. Most of the common operating systems are supplied by Microsoft:


  • Windows 98
  • Windows NT
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows Millennium
  • Windows XP


There are some significant differences in the practical operation of these, so you should determine whether the client can carry out the tasks we outline below for the operating system on the computer which will be used to work through the chosen learning packages.


Operating system tasks[edit]

You might want to start by finding out the following information:

Finding applications:

  • Does the client know where to look for the applications or packages?
  • Does the client know the names and icons for the applications required?


Opening and closing applications:


  • Can the client open an application?
  • Can the client close an application correctly? (This often involves saving information.)


Using a file manager to locate files and data:


  • Can the client use My Documents/Windows Explorer to navigate around the file system?
  • Is the client aware of the concept of a hierarchy or tree structure of folders (directories)?


Creating folders and saving data in specific folders:


  • Can the client create a new folder to save application data?



Using the Internet[edit]

A great deal of information to support learning as well as complete learning packages can be accessed via the Internet. It is therefore important to gauge the client’s competence in Internet use.



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Before proceeding:

  • List the aspects of Internet use you would enquire about.
  • Note down what would you want to know about each aspect.



Common Internet tasks[edit]

Here are the main aspects of basic Internet use which you should ask about:


Browsing the Internet:


  • Has the client experience of using a browser? (e.g.: Internet Explorer, Mozilla, Firefox)
  • Has the client experience of using a search engine? (e.g.: Google, Ask Jeeves)
  • Is the client aware of the variable quality of websites found on the Internet?


E-mail:


  • Has the client used e-mail?
  • Does the client have an e-mail address?


Chat:


  • Has the client used chat?
  • Is the client aware of possible dangers in its use?


Groups:


  • Has the client used any (news)groups?



Using applications packages[edit]

You need to know about the client’s existing experience with common applications packages. This will help to confirm the information gleaned so far.



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Before proceeding, list some applications packages you might want to ask about.



Applications packages[edit]

Word processing is the most likely example of an applications package. Almost all computer users will have done some word processing. But many will have used other packages as well.


Word processing packages


  • Has the client used a word processor? (e.g.: Word, Write)


Spreadsheet packages


  • Has the client used a spreadsheet application? (e.g.: Excel)


Photo/Graphics packages


  • Has the client used a photo/graphics package? (e.g.: Paint Shop Pro, Photoshop)


Database packages


  • Has the client used a database application? (e.g.: Access, dBASE)


Financial packages


  • Has the client used a financial package? (e.g.: Quicken, Quick Books)


Other


  • Has the client used any other, more specialised packages which do not fit into the above categories? If so, what are these packages and what do they do?


In each case you should try to get an idea of the level at which the packages have been used. The best way of finding this out is to ask the client to give some examples of how they used the package.

Using learning packages[edit]

One important question to ask is whether the client wishes to use the chosen learning package in the library, using the library’s equipment, or whether they would prefer to take the package away for home use.

If the latter, it is vital that you establish the specification of their home computer. While many home users possess high specification equipment, others may have older, slower models which will not support the latest packages. This can be a particular problem where graphics or audio is involved.

All learning packages will state clearly the minimum specification on which the application will run and you should ask the client to confirm that their home equipment meets or exceeds this.

It is good practice to make a written record of what you have established about the client’s ICT competence. Some libraries have checklists for this purpose.



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Find out if your library service has checklists of this nature. If not, why not create one for yourself and your colleagues to use?



Establishing learning goals[edit]

You need to establish the learning goals for the client before you can think about possible learning approaches. The client may have learning goals related to their work or to their personal life. You should attempt to establish exactly what the client wishes to learn and if possible get an idea of the reasons why the client is undertaking the learning.

Some clients may come to the public library seeking learning packages which are complete in themselves. You may be able to provide such packages “off the shelf” in your library or you may have to source them from elsewhere.

Other clients may be seeking additional learning to support training or education being undertaken elsewhere. The most obvious example of the latter is school pupils or college/university students wishing assistance with assignments or desiring materials which will help them revise for examinations.

Clients engaged in more informal learning may also require top-up materials. For example, an adult working through a self-help book on word processing might ask for additional exercises in keyboarding.



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Before proceeding outline the different areas you would need to ask about to find out the client’s learning goals. There are quite a few of them!


Determining learning goals[edit]

Here are some possible areas to look at with the client to determine the learning goals:


General subject area:

What is the general subject area in which the client wishes to undertake the learning? E.g.: the Spanish language.


Slant or specialism:

Is there a particular specialism to this learning? E.g.: Spanish for business.


Existing competence of client:

Does the client possess any existing relevant competence in the subject? E.g.: the client has picked up a basic knowledge while living in Spain for six months last year.


Future competence as a result of the learning undertaken:

What level does the client wish to be able to reach as a result of the learning? E.g.: the client wishes to write business letters to Spanish clients of their company.


Reasons for learning:

Is there a particular work or social reason the client has for wishing to undertake the learning? E.g.: the client is soon to take responsibility for their company’s Spanish clients


Additional factors[edit]

You may need to consider the following additional factors:


Timeframe:

Over what time period does the client wish the learning to take place? E.g.: the next six months.


Time available:

How much time in the week does the client have for learning? E.g.: up to four hours per week.


Importance of certification:

Does the client particularly want to undertake learning which will result in a qualification? E.g.: the client is interested in gaining a City & Guilds qualification in Business Spanish on completion of the learning.


Finance:

Many of the learning materials available through public libraries will have no costs attached. However some may involve enrollment or certification fees. In these cases, you must tactfully investigate if the client would have the financial resources for a course of study with a fee associated? E.g.: is the client able and/or willing to pay for an end of course examination fee?


It is good practice to make a written record of what you have established about the client’s learning goals. Some libraries have checklists for this purpose.


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Find out if your library service has checklists of this nature. If not, why not create some for yourself and your colleagues to use?


The UK education and training system[edit]

In order to help your clients, you need to have a broad-based understanding of the UK education and training system as a whole - pre-school, primary, secondary, tertiary, workplace and informal. Naturally you are not expected to be an expert on education and training (although in some instances you may need to consult such experts). However you should be familiar with the basics of the system and know how to find out more detail on any aspect, if this is required.

Remember that we live in an age of lifelong learning and that much learning takes place outside the traditional academic system. So you should make sure that you know not just the local schools, colleges and universities, but also private training providers, adult learning agencies, voluntary groups etc.

In particular, it is essential that you appreciate the ways in which the education and training systems of the four UK nations differ from one another (the Scottish system displays the largest divergences from the others) and the implications of this for the client.



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Here are the official government websites for the education departments in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales:



Familiarize yourself with the information provided on these sites, especially that related to the country in which you are resident. Note that much of the information on the English site applies also to Wales and some is also applicable to Northern Ireland.Each of these sites provides links to sites giving information on more specialised aspects of education. Note the addresses of such sites which are particularly relevant to yourself and summarise the sort of information which you can gain from them.

Ascertaining special needs[edit]

You should establish any special needs (in the widest sense) of the client which will have a bearing on the learning they are proposing to undertake.


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Before proceeding:

  • Make a list of the different types of special needs which could have a bearing on the learning.
  • For each case note the steps you can take to enable the learning.


Types of special needs[edit]

It is difficult to compile a comprehensive list of special needs. Here are some of the most common with some suggestions as to how the library can facilitate learning for such clients.


  • Motor disabilities
  • Visual impairment
  • Hearing impairment
  • Special learning needs (including literacy, numeracy and English as a second language)


Motor disabilities[edit]

This can cover a wide range of disabilities, ranging from a paraplegic learner in a wheelchair to someone with mild Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). Some common examples of library facilities for this group are:


  • a flexible computer desk at a height which can be adjusted to suit varying dimensions of wheelchairs
  • a joystick or specially adapted mouse for clients who cannot operate a standard mouse
  • a specialised “big keys” keyboard etc. for clients who cannot operate a standard keyboard
  • a mouse tray so that clients can use the mouse on their lap
  • touch screens
  • programmable keypads to reduce the number of keystrokes required for common inputs


Visual impairment[edit]

Many manufacturers produce software specifically to enable use by visually impaired users. It is possible for the users to hear what appears on the screen. Some software produces output in Braille.

Sometimes simple measures can be effective in facilitating use by visually impaired clients, such as:


  • changing the text size on the screen
  • altering the colour settings (It is usually easiest for clients with visual impairments to read black text on a white background)
  • using “text only” versions where graphics are removed.



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Make sure that you can carry out the three “simple measures” listed above.

Useful information can be found on the website of the Royal National Institution for the Blind. Go to http://www.rnib.org.uk/ and search for “internet”.



Hearing impairment[edit]

Again much specialist software is available. Libraries can install systems which pick up sound from the computer through an amplifier and radio microphone which is then transmitted by infrared around the room. The hearing impaired person hears this amplified sound through a lightweight headset. There is no need for users to wear their hearing aids.


http://www.deafclub.co.uk is a useful site with a search engine, which is specifically designed to help deaf people find information. It can also lists sites giving advice on ICT adaptations for clients with hearing impairment.


http://www.rnid.org.uk/ is the site of the Royal National Institute for Deaf People.


Special learning needs[edit]

Public libraries have always played an important role in assisting clients in these groups and recent disability and discrimination legislation has laid even more emphasis on this role.

Research has shown that libraries are often viewed by such clients as friendly, non-judgmental environments. In consequence they may be more likely to undertake learning in the library than in the more formal setting of a school or college.

Your library service will have staff who specialise in assisting these user groups. These colleagues can advise you of how best to provide for individual clients.

You should be aware that nowadays, there are many holistic learning packages which provide upskilling for young people or adults in literacy, numeracy and ICT.

Remember that, although the word processor’s spell checking facility is designed primarily to check for typing errors, it is an invaluable aid to anyone with problems in coping with the English language’s idiosyncratic spelling.


Sources of careers information[edit]

In order to match the client’s learning desires with work goals, it may be necessary to have information about which workplace qualifications and competences are useful in a particular job role or career. You are not expected to know this information but you should to be able to access it efficiently, most probably by use of the Internet.


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Before proceeding, find websites which will give you information on the following careers:

  • nursing
  • clockmaking
  • actuarial work
  • farriery


Careers information sites[edit]

There are several different sites which will produce the required information. There is usually a dedicated site for each sector of employment.

Here are some examples for the jobs we asked about:


Nursing

An NHS site http://www.nhscareers.nhs.uk/careers/nursing/


Clockmaking

The British Horological Institute http://www.bhi.co.uk/


Actuarial work

Prospects the graduate careers website has a section at: http://www.prospects.ac.uk/cms/ShowPage/Home_page/Explore_types_of_jobs/Types_of_Job/p!eipaL?state=showocc&idno=329&pageno=1


Farriery

The Farriers Registration Council has a section on careers at: http://www.farrier-reg.gov.uk/

General careers information[edit]

There are several useful on-line sources of general careers information, such as:


Web 2.0 sources University of Glamorgan YouTube http://www.youtube.com/careersglamorganuni Foreign and Commonwealth Office Twitter links http://web.archive.org/20090804213504/www.fco.gov.uk/en/twitter/ Energy careers on Facebook http://www.careerenergy.co.uk/?facebook CILIP Graduate Trainee Opportunities on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=13484212748&ref=nf

Select a range of ICT-based packages to support learning[edit]

Selection criteria[edit]

You must take all the information obtained from the client into account so that you can identify learning packages which will meet the criteria. You will match learning packages against such criteria as:


  • Does the subject matter match the client’s desired study topic?
  • Is certification available if the client desires this?
  • Does the length of the learning package fit with the time available for the client to learn?
  • Can the client afford any costs associated with the learning?
  • Does the learning package address any special needs of the client?
  • Is the level of the learning suitable in terms of both starting competence (i.e.: neither too easy nor too difficult) and final competence achieved at the end of learning?
  • Can the client undertake this learning without enhancement of their existing ICT skills? If not, can the library supply additional support for ICT skills development in order to enable the client to undertake the chosen learning package?


Learning packages available within own organisation[edit]

You need to be aware of the range of learning packages which are available within your own library service. Some of these will be at your own service point. Others will be held elsewhere within the service.

The library catalogue will give information about the learning packages, both in your own library and elsewhere. Some libraries produce specific catalogues or lists of ICT learning packages, giving more details than might be found in the general catalogue. For packages at your own service point, it is also useful to examine the packages themselves and, if time permits, you can actually test them out.



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Familiarise yourself with all the catalogues and lists of ICT learning packages in your library service. Note what sort of information they provide for each item.



Restrictions on the use of learning packages[edit]

You must be able to determine any restrictions on the use of ICT learning packages, e.g.:


  • Must the package be used on library premises or is it available for home use?
  • Is there a limit to the number of hours a client may book to use the package in the library or on the length of time a package can be borrowed?
  • If the packages are to be used in the client’s home it is vital for you to establish the details of the client’s own computer in order to be sure that the specification is high enough to support the chosen learning package.


When working in this area you will pick up useful information through the experience and comments of clients. If several clients recommend a particular package on keyboarding techniques, for instance, you can feel confident in recommending it to other clients with similar learning goals. Additionally you can gain information and advice through discussions with experienced colleagues.



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Here is an exercise to familiarise yourself with some learning packages available within your own library service.For each subject area given below, find two packages and note the differences between them:


  • Business studies
  • French language
  • Basic mathematics
  • Word processing


Sourcing learning packages outside own organisation[edit]

Your library cannot duplicate all the learning packages which will exist locally outside your library service. You must have an awareness of what is available out there.



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Before proceeding make a list of the types of organisation in your locality which produce and/or deliver learning packages.



Sources of learning packages[edit]

Here are some examples of where learning might be found in the locality:

  • Schools
  • Further education colleges
  • Universities
  • Private trainers
  • Local learning partnerships
  • Community learning
  • Voluntary organisations, e.g.: Workers’ Educational Association



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Here is an exercise to increase your familiarity with local sources of learning material outside the library service.


Choose four of the types of provider given in the preceding list. For each type, find the website of a named organisation in this category and choose two different study packages offered. Note the differences between the packages at each organisation and the differences between the organisations.



Differences between sources[edit]

We expect that you will find the following points of difference:


  • Cost of package (if any)
  • Flexibility of study times
  • Availability of certification
  • Level of studies
  • Range of content


In fact, you should come up with the very points which might be criteria gleaned from a client seeking learning.


With e-learning it is not necessary for the provider to be local. Much excellent learning content can be sourced free of charge from the Internet e.g.: http://www.studyspanish.com offers free tuition in basic Spanish. In other cases e-learning may be delivered via the Internet for a fee. In these cases a log in and password will be required after registration.


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Before proceeding, find and note down five websites where learning is available on the Internet.


Learning on the Internet[edit]

Learning can be found on the Web at many, many sites. There is no way that you will be able to remember even a fraction of these. So it is extremely important that you should be familiar with sites which are commonly used to find learning resources. Check these sites frequently for news and developments, as their content is regularly updated.


It is important to be aware of the scope of any such site. It is often the case that learning sites which appear to be UK-wide are not in fact applicable to one or more of the four nations. Frequently, learning sites apply to England, Wales and Northern Ireland (e.g.: http://www.learndirect.co.uk) and there is a separate site for Scotland (e.g.: http://www.myworldofwork.co.uk)


The scope is not always obvious from the title of the site. Be especially careful when the word "national" is used. This can mean UK or a single one of the four UK nations. For example, the content of the National Learning Network (http://www.nln.ac.uk) applies only to England. In contrast, the content of the National Learning Network (http://www.nln.ac.uk) applies only to England.


BBC learning materials[edit]

The BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk) offers excellent learning materials most of which are applicable in all four UK nations. This site also provides links to other providers of on-line learning.


There are many websites which are specifically designed to provide curriculum related resources and revision aids. Once again it is vital to check that these are appropriate for the school or college curriculum of the UK nation where the client is studying. The BBC’s site (http://www.bbc.co.uk) has educational and revision material for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.


You should be familiar with websites applicable to your own home nation’s educational curriculum, such as Learning and Teaching Scotland (http://www.ltscotland.org.uk). However, do not consider that support learning should be confined to these educational web sites. Rather be prepared to assist clients to find appropriate support material for their learning from any suitable Internet source. This applies especially when the client is seeking information to enhance a course of study undertaken elsewhere. They may come to the library looking for company financial performance data to include in a presentation on marketing, literary criticism of T S Eliot for a university essay or information on the breeding habits of dolphins for A level biology.


This sort of information in support of learning will probably be found on websites which are not specifically educational. So be prepared to assist your client to find information in support of their learning from any appropriate Internet source.

Devising a learning plan[edit]

You can give the client additional help in the form of a motivational learning plan to guide the learner through the package(s) you have sourced.


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Before proceeding, make a list of points which you might include in the plan.



Contents of a learning plan[edit]

A suitable set of features to be included in the learning plan is:


  • the overall learning goal
  • specific learning objectives which contribute to the learning goal
  • a deadline for completion of the learning
  • a schedule for learning
  • any support which the library staff have agreed to provide for the client
  • a specification of the responsibilities and involvement of any outside provider


The learning plan is best expressed in SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timebound) objectives. It need not be a complex piece of documentation. Often it can simply be a checklist.

This plan should be created with and agreed by the client. Usually it will be signed by both the client and a member of library staff.

The use of such a learning plan avoids confusion and can also be motivating to the learner. Where the client is returning to learning after a gap, or has had prior negative learning experiences, it can be helpful to break the learning into “bite sized chunks” and produce a series of shorter learning plans. Thus the client has a positive experience of successfully completing a small amount of learning which engenders a sense of achievement and spurs them on to further efforts.


Example of a learning plan[edit]

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Progression opportunities[edit]

An important role of the public library is to be a key player in lifelong learning. A positive learning experience provided by the library can lead to further successful progression for the client, in some cases into formal tertiary or workplace vocational education. The library user who enquires about opportunities to study Spanish language to further her career in retail sales may eventually undertake a university course in business and retail management.



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Before proceeding note down how you might explore progression opportunities for a client.



Exploring progression opportunities[edit]

You could explore the following possibilities:


  • What has been the client’s experience with the learning undertaken so far? Have they enjoyed it? What was particularly enjoyable or useful and what was less so?
  • Revisit the client’s original reasons for undertaking the learning. Are these motivations still the same or has the experience of learning awakened the client’s ambition to broader horizons? It is not uncommon, for example, for a learner who has embarked on a short language package, with a view to being able to order food and ask directions on holiday, to be seized with enthusiasm and wish to carry on to GCSE or Standard Grade qualifications in the language. Based on this discussion you can consider any or all or the following:
    • Is there a more advanced package on this topic available?
    • Are there packages on related topics to that being undertaken by the client?
    • Has the client come to the end of the possible informal learning on the topic and might now proceed to formal education?
    • Which further learning will further enhance the client’s job prospects after the present studies?


Of course, all of the previously mentioned sources of information on learning provision are useful to you not only in sourcing learning which is appropriate for the client’s immediate learning goals but also to suggest further learning options to the client, on completion of the initial learning. In other words, at its simplest, when you are sourcing learning material, you should always have your eye on the level above, to see how your client might further progress.


Concluding the learning experience[edit]

Hopefully the learning has been a positive experience for the client and they are interested in taking things further. But do not be discouraged if the client does not want to sign up for further learning immediately. It may be that the learning just completed has achieved all the client’s current goals and they wish to pause at this point meantime. This is a satisfactory outcome because you can be sure that a satisfied client who has found the package stimulating and relevant is likely to return to the library in future looking for advice and guidance on other learning.


Provide appropriate ICT support to the client[edit]

Using in-house learning packs to develop ICT skills[edit]

Most public library services have a wealth of in-house learning packs whose aim is to develop ICT skills, ranging from beginner to advanced level. You should examine the packages in your library so that you are completely familiar with their content and level. This enables you to make the most informed choice when recommending a package to a client and to be absolutely confident that the client will benefit from it.


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Select three in-house packages which develop basic ICT skills such as:


  • Using PC hardware
  • Using files and folders (directories)
  • Using the Internet
  • Keyboarding skills


Try out each of the three packages to evaluate:


  • Level (absolute beginner to expert user)
  • Duration (how many hours to work through whole package)
  • Approach (friendly to overly formal)
  • Ease of use
  • Presentation (is it attractive and encouraging for the learner?)


Front-line client support[edit]

When a client is using any ICT based learning package in the library, whether to develop ICT skills or for other learning, it is likely that from time to time some technical snags will arise.


You must be able to assist with straightforward trouble shooting e.g.: printing problems. We stress the word “straightforward”. There is no suggestion that you should possess sophisticated trouble shooting skills: this is the responsibility of ICT technical staff. Rather you should be acquainted with typical, straightforward difficulties which can arise and be able to suggest how these can be overcome.


Do be clear about the boundary between your responsibilities regarding trouble-shooting and when to call on the services of a technical professional.


You probably have had experience of this already.



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Before proceeding, note down a few possible problems which may be encountered by clients using computers. (If this is outside your own experience ask colleagues to suggest computer problems they have solved for clients.)



Typical problems[edit]

Here are some of the problems you are most likely to encounter.


  • The monitor appears blank
  • After using the computer for some time, it ‘hangs’, neither keyboard nor mouse appear to operate
  • A client has difficulty reading off the monitor because the print is too small
  • Nothing comes out of the printer
  • The printer does not seem to use the whole of the sheet of paper and the layout is not the same as on the monitor
  • When saving data from an Office application like Word, the message comes up that the disk is full
  • The printer jams

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Before proceeding, jot down any ideas you have about the help you would be able to give in each of the above cases. You can compare this with our suggestions on the following screens.

You will find that with experience and in discussion with your colleagues you will build up a fund of solutions for these types of problem.

Once again, as in Outcome 2, you must take full cognisance of any special needs of the client and offer appropriate technical support to address these.



Resolving problems[edit]

Some of our solutions are based on your ability to change computer settings. It may be that you do not have access rights to these and would need to contact an ICT professional.

Note that with the first two faults (monitor blank, computer hanging), if they require forcing an application to end or indeed resetting or restarting the computer, it will always mean any data not saved will probably be lost. It is important to explain this to the client.

It is even more important to explain before any incident occurs that data should be saved at regular and frequent intervals just in case something goes wrong!


The monitor appears blank[edit]

  • Check to see if the computer has gone to sleep by pressing the space bar on the keyboard.
  • Check that the monitor is switched on and connected to the mains, i.e.: is the power light illuminated?
  • Check that the monitor is correctly connected to the computer.
  • Check to see if the system works after the computer is reset or switched off at the mains and on again.


The computer hangs[edit]

Sometimes, after using the computer for some time, it hangs, and neither keyboard nor mouse appears to operate. If this happens you can try the following


  • Wait a while to see if the computer is performing some intensive task and recovers.
  • Try Ctrl-Alt-Del. If you are lucky it will bring up a Task Manager window which will show you which application is not responding and allow you to close down only that application.
  • Use the reset button to restart the computer.
  • Switch the computer off at the mains and then on again.


A client has difficulty reading off the monitor because the print is too small[edit]

  • If this is confined to a particular application, it is usually possible to adjust the zoom setting. If this does not appear in a box near the top of the window, it will be found in the menu system under View: Zoom or View: Text size.
  • If this applies to everything on the monitor, then, if you have access rights, you can change the monitor settings. Right click with the mouse on the desktop, choose Properties from the resulting menu, choose the Settings tab from the dialogue box, reduce the Screen resolution setting and OK. Unfortunately, the lower the screen resolution, the less can be displayed on the monitor. This often results in an uneasy compromise for people with problems with their sight.


Nothing comes out of the printer[edit]

  • Check that the printer is switched on and connected to the mains, i.e.: is the power light illuminated?
  • Check that the printer is correctly connected to the computer.
  • Check that the printer has paper in it.
  • Check the ink supply.
  • Try printing a test page.
  • Check the print settings in both the operating system and the application to see that the computer is looking for the correct printer and that the correct size of paper has been selected and that manual/auto (as appropriate) is chosen.


Print layout is incorrect[edit]

Sometimes the printer does not seem to use the whole of the sheet of paper or the layout is not the same as on the monitor.

  • When using a word processor like Word, it is possible to set the paper size in the application. However there is also a setting for the printer itself. If these two settings are different, then the output will not appear correctly on the page. The driver for a newly connected printer may default to US legal for the paper size. It is normal to use A4 in this country and applications will use this as default. Go to the printer properties and check the paper size. Start: Settings: Printers: right click on the printer concerned, choose Properties and select the Device settings tab.


The disk appears to be full[edit]

Sometimes, when saving data from an Office application like Word, a message comes up that the disk is full.

  • It may be that the client’s floppy disk or pen drive is full. This is quite likely for any sizable word-processed document especially if it contains graphics or other embedded items.
  • A fault condition can arise concerning interaction between the application and the operating system which results in a false reporting of the disk full error. This is irretrievable and requires the computer to be rebooted. If the client will lose a fair amount of unsaved data, it is worth opening a new document and copy and pasting from the original to the new document and then trying to save that. You may be lucky!
  • A similar problem can occur regarding the computer running out of memory. Again only rebooting the computer will correct the situation.


The printer jams[edit]

  • There is no universal solution for this problem as each printer has its own unique mechanism. The best you can do is to familiarise yourself with the various types of printer in your library and how to un-jam each.


Referring clients to sources of support external to library[edit]

Where no suitable in-house packages are available, you will need to refer the client to external sources. These are likely to be hands on, practical courses from local providers. The knowledge of local provision outlined under Outcome 2 will enable you to suggest appropriate referral agencies.


A Cap Digital.svg ACTIVITY 3.4


Before proceeding, make a list of the types of packages which are not available from your library service and would need to be sourced from outside.



External sources of support[edit]

As in Outcome 2 you will find ICT skills packages in the locality from:


  • Schools
  • Colleges
  • Universities
  • Private trainers
  • Local learning partnerships
  • Community learning
  • Voluntary organisations, e.g.: Workers’ Educational Association

A Cap Digital.svg ACTIVITY 3.5

Here is an exercise to increase your familiarity with sources of ICT skills materials outside the library service.

Choose four of the types of provider given in the preceding list. For each, find the organisation’s website. Locate at each two different ICT skills packages being offered. Note any differences between the packages at the different organisations.

You should repeat this exercise for ICT learning packages available over the Internet from providers outside your own locality.


Supporting Reader Development · Using ICT in Professional Practice