Students learning in computer room

Using computers

Explore some of the skills use working with computers while you study

Using information communication technology (ICT) successfully can develop your digital literacy. ICT-based devices, apps and services can improve your learning , enhance your digital identity, and help you work more efficiently.

As a university student, you'll need to be able to use a mouse, keyboard, touchscreen, voice control or some other mode of input. You'll also need to use a screen, microphone, haptic feedback, or some other mode of output.

Basic ICT proficiency also demands the ability to use Office software, a web browser and email.

It's also important to be willing to learn more about technologies that you're already familiar with – most of us would say that we 'know how to use email' but the following scenario – based on an event that occurred in August 2015 – shows why continuous learning matters.


A London sexual health centre mistakenly leaked the details of nearly 800 patients who have attended HIV clinics, bosses have admitted. The 56 Dean Street clinic in Soho sent out the names and email addresses of 780 people when a newsletter was issued to clinic patients. Patients were supposed to be blind-copied into the email but instead details were sent as a group email.

The problem 

It is important to know not just 'how to use email' but how different kinds of email message need to follow different procedures and processes. In this case the email wasn't blind copied, which would prevent each recipient seeing who else the email had been sent to.

The impact

The inappropriate sharing of information can lead to embarrassment or worse. In the example above, if patients have their health status made public, they might suffer discrimination.

How to prevent it happening again

When sending an email such as this one, to multiple recipients, it’s important to consider whether everyone on the list really needs to be copied in; and sometimes it is necessary to blind copy recipients to the message. Think about this and decide before you press send.

Understanding the technologies you use

As your levels of ICT proficiency develop you will gain the capacity to choose, adapt and personalise apps and systems. You will be able to assess the benefits and disadvantages of particular ICT approaches – you might even design and implement ICT solutions or decide to learn how to code. In all cases, however, it will be important to stay current with ICT, because as the technology evolves, the threats and opportunities change.

How to develop your ICT skills

You should be open to learning more about a technology you already know well. This is more important now that many services are hosted online and are updated constantly – Google Apps, a service that all University of Portsmouth network accounts can access, changes often.

Don't underestimate the value of revisiting some of the standard Office software, such as Microsoft Word. Learning the more advanced features of Word, such as referencing and bibliography management, can prove to be a huge timesaver when writing your coursework.

The University offers students a variety of IT training opportunities to help you develop your IT skills. You can also gain a Digital Skills Certificate by completing short Moodle modules demonstrating your digital capabilities.

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