Post Academic

Why You Should Invest in Computer Books

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionWe’ve already warned you against hoarding books, but you need some computer books for your academic career. Chances are good that you’re here because you have either started grad school or you are concerned about the state of grad school in the Humanities. So why do you need a book on HTML, CSS, or Windows 7?

A little computer knowledge can increase your value in the workplace, whether you wind up in academia or not. Learning HTML in particular expanded my job opportunities after I left graduate school. You don’t need to turn into a mega-hacker, but being able to hop on a computer or build a Web site or a Wiki will save you time and will make you much happier. Why is that, especially when you focus on books and reading?

Your students expect you to be wired. More and more students want PDFs, or they want to visit a Wiki to get course materials. You don’t have to start speaking to them in 140-character Twitter lingo, but you will need to make your coursework accessible in more ways.

Fewer IT resources will be available. As universities cut budgets, the hard truth is that departments will have to share the IT guys. That is not an ideal situation, but the delays you are experiencing now to fix your computer will only increase. It’s best to take charge of the situation and start thinking of the computer tasks you perform most often (Printing? Word processing? Spreadsheets for your grades?) and buy a book or two that can help you deal with these tasks.

Other faculty members will love you. You don’t want to get stuck showing people how to print specific sections of Excel spreadsheets, but being known as your department’s computer whiz gives you an edge.

But how do you get started? Schedule a few hours a weekend to sit down with your computer and learn some new skills. Set a goal first, such as creating a custom grading spreadsheet or building a wiki, get a book on the subject, and get started. If you want any specific book recommendations or have anything you want to suggest, either e-mail us or leave a note in the comments.

Image of a PDP-12 from Uppsala University from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

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