University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Computer Skills Guidelines

As we are a computer-driven design space, being familiar with computer basics is essential for creating here. Information on what we qualify as computer basics are listed below.

Computer skills needed for success in the lab

A lot of people ask us what kind of experience is required to participate in Fab Lab camps and workshops. It varies some by activity, but we can generally say all participants should be familiar with “computer basics” because we are a computer-driven design shop. To help learners (kids, adults, grandparents) understand what we mean by this we’ve assembled a list of short descriptions.

  • Ability to concentrate on a computer task for up to an hour at a time. This may require shifting attention back and forth between two displays, like a computer screen and a projector, to follow instructions.
  • Use of keyboard and a mouse. This includes knowing the difference between double-click, left-click and right-click, click-and-drag selection as well as how to find and distinguish the delete and backspace keys, or enter in numbers with decimal points. They may need to insert the cursor into a particular spot in code or text and/or know how to select text. Participants (children) who have only learned to use cell phones or tablets will need to practice input with computer peripheral devices/methods.
  • Basic file management (usually with Windows 10 or OSX). Typically participants will need to fluidly navigate between directories like desktop, downloads and shortcuts to network drives. They may need to open or rename files, make folders, copy, cut, paste and use a scroll bar to hunt for files that may not be immediately in view.

We also strongly suggest learners practice or confirm their proficiency with the following prior to attending a workshop with us:

  • Ability to find and save images on the internet. Learners can use a web browser and search engine of their choice to do this. Try saving a file on the desktop and then using Windows Explorer (My Computer; or Finder on OSX) to move it to another folder location, and then rename this file with your name.
  • Use the mouse to drag a box around multiple items on the screen to select all of them. Use the mouse and shift or control to select multiple specific objects.
  • Copy and paste a selection of text from one spot in a document to another.
  • In addition, participants who wish to design with Minecraft will need to learn how to control the 3D-person interface by moving with WASD and orienting themselves with the mouse.

Help with computer basics can be found at your nearest local library, for people of all ages. If you have any questions about any of this, just ask!