My Path Through Research

The Trials and Triumphs of Doing a PhD

Computer Skills: Learning and Testing

In this blog I have been writing about courses I have been taking through the UCL graduate school. However, it seems like most of the courses I have mentioned are mainly courses concerned with the research process. I have not mentioned courses such as the IT skills possibilities available.

Getting More from Photoshop

One of the courses I attended was the ‘Getting More from Photoshop’ course. I have used graphics packages, includingCorel and Adobe Photoshop. However, I have always just figured out the one thing I needed and never really explored the possibilities of any graphics package. So when I saw this course available from the graduate school I was immediately interested. I was particularly interested as, since I am working with photographs, gaining some experience with image editing would definitely help (not to fiddle with results, but to prepare useful images and/or prepare images for presentations to show the changes visually).

The course was very useful. Finally I learned what the wand tool does…a very useful thing I must say! Learning about colour correction, and adjustment layers also showed me how I can do some editing that I had been struggling with. I was expecting to learn much more, or to come out of the course knowing everything about Photoshop. But as the lecturer told us this would be quite difficult as there is so much that even someone who is constantly use it can always discover new functions. I do agree with him though that learning a few tools can give you the basic expertise you need to figure out the interface…the rest you can do on your own with experience…and some googling 🙂

European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL)

Ahh – the wonders of graduate school! In the beginning of the academic year I received an e-mail about the possibility of free ECDL testing through the graduate school…I just had to fill in a questionnaire and see if I was chosen. In one of my I-don’t-feel-like-working moods I decided to fill in the questionnaire. A few days later I received the reply: I was chosen to follow this course. WOW! This meant that I had to start to look into what ECDL really entails.

The way the session were divided was that every other Wednesday there would be a testing session where you can either do the exams or mock tests, while during the rest of the time you can do some self-studying and/or drop in at set times to ask questions. Well, after looking at the syllabus and talking to some friends who have done it, I decided that self-study would be more than enough. So on the first testing Wednesday I went down and started to do the exams. I managed to do 5 out of the 7 module exams…and pass. Not bad. 2 more modules to go! I couldn’t make the next one, so at the third session I went down to finish the exams…and I passed!

Why am I remembering this today? Well…today my ECDL certificate finally arrived! I am not sure how to feel about this. I know that this certification is required for certain jobs. However, I wonder if it will be significantly important for any job I apply for…I would expect that people who get a PhD will be able to do basic IT stuff. Also, I would expect that certification would not be the be all and end all. After all the certification only proves basic skills in IT, not any advanced skills. But I always say that extra certification would not hurt! It didn’t require a lot of time, so it was worth doing it (normally it is expensive) just in case.

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