May 2, 2001

It really is as simple as ABC & 123...

Author: JT Smith

Gerard writes
"It really is as simple as ABC & 123...
Computer literacy is the key to solving the shortage of
quality software application developers,
says Lorraine Cobcroft, CEO of inteRAD Technology.

In a world driven by computers and digital devices, computer
literacy is becoming as important as
basic reading, writing and numeracy skills. One would
therefore expect in the technological age that
we live in, for all of us to know what "computer literacy"
is, the fact is many people can not even
define the term, let alone demonstrate their abilities
effectively in the business world.

To demonstrate the lack of understanding of the term
"computer literate", just ask a selection of staff
in different roles within your organisation if they consider
themselves as literate. It would be a safe
bet that a large majority would indeed respond in the
positive, in the belief that because they can
competently use Microsoft Word or Excel they are therefore
computer literate.

Wrong.

Computer literacy is the ability to understand how hardware,
software, and users interact to solve
problems or automate tasks. A computer literate person has
the ability to adapt readily to unfamiliar
software packages. They understand the basics of hardware
operation and file storage systems and
understand the functioning of operating systems and the
performance simple tasks at command
line level.

The problem stems back to the training programs that in the
past have been designed by training
companies and in-house departments. Such training programs
have historically focused on
teaching the use of specific software products to perform
standard tasks. Instead, training courses
should be equipping people with the necessary tools and
skills to generally evaluate problems,
assess the suitability of a wide range of software tools,
and design the most efficient solution to
deliver maximum automation to a task.

Obviously, there is great value in the majority of training
courses available and in the quest for
computer literacy, courses in programming serve a valuable
purpose. But until the attitude of "why
should I learn the basics of programming when all I want to
do is use the software, not write it"
changes, then people will realise that nothing more
successfully conveys a real understanding of
how computers and software work, than learning how software
is designed and constructed.

There are fundamental differences between a truly computer
literate person and an "application
literate" person. Computer literate people will
automatically look for the quickest and most efficient
way of using the computer to perform the job, while the
"application literate" person will do only what
they have been trained to do -- use a specific software
product. So, when the user is confronted with
a new task or solution to work with, they will tend to
revert to manual or inefficient computer methods.

Computer literate people constantly explore software looking
for features and devising innovative
ways to use the tools at their disposal. They devise
evaluation standards and tests and measures
for available products against those standards to find the
best product for the task at hand, taking
into account the psychology of the user.

The lack of skilled programmers and computer literate people
is today, a reality. The long-term
solution involves changing the entire IT Training culture,
which is both time-consuming and costly. In
the short-term, there are solutions available in the shape
of good visual rapid application
development tools, enabling novices to quickly learn the
basics of software application development.

Until recently, application development was the last
remaining stronghold of the traditional
"computer nerd" culture. Application developers are still
often perceived as the people "in the know" -
using skills that are beyond most people's comprehension,
rather like a brain surgeon. But now, a
methodology exists which enables almost everyone -- as long
as they are computer literate - to
become a software developer, without the need to understand
a single computer language or a
single line of software code.

This methodology offers unique advantages to students of
programming and to novices seeking to
gain an appreciation of software design -- making students
truly computer literate. It incorporates a
visual "flowcharting" methodology that reflects the standard
approach to software design. By using
the universally understood "point and click" process, it
makes programming available to everybody.
With different editions available, every level of expertise
is catered for - enabling professional users
to tailor the professional and enterprise editions for their
needs, including integrating code,
class-building capabilities and facilities to import and use
existing classes.

Offering the ability to complete application development
without the input of any software code, the
new methodology removes the need for the detailed technical
knowledge traditionally held by the
programmer. This is, therefore, not only the solution for
the shortage of skilled application
developers, but it also enables students to succeed at a
much more rapid rate, achieving notable
results early on in the learning stage, which is ultimately
a valuable commodity to have in today's
commercial environment.

For more information on inteRAD's revolutionary build-IT
product, please contact inteRAD
Technology Ltd on 07 3279 5091; email
mailto:info@interadtechnology.com

For
Further Information:

Peter Cobcroft
inteRAD
Technology Ltd
1/88
Sumners Road
Sumner
Park, QLD 4074
Phone:
61 7 3279 5091
Fax:
61 7 3279 4494
e-mail:
info@interadtechnology.com"

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