Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Computer Boot Camp - Pre-rally

We're trying something new at this rally. Instead of just giving our seminars, we're offering a hands-on session. Hands-on is always a lot harder to manage, but it can be so much more beneficial for the learner. We still present a lot of the same material as our seminars, but then we turn them loose on their own computers with an exercise to accomplish. We also give them our Tutorial videos on CD and, with headsets, they can all watch and learn on their own. Then we all come back together for questions and review.

We have a small group, which is good for the first time. With a little tweaking, I think we can handle 20-30 in this format. Both Jim and I team teach this one so it's a little easier than when I did the 'Ladies Only' hands on class in Palm Creek. That one I limited to 6 students and I was still a little overwhelmed.

What topics to cover is always a tough one. We call it 'boot camp' because it's meant to be at a beginning level, but we want more experienced folks to get something out of it as well - after all, most of us never had this stuff in school. For example, a lot of people who have been using their computer for years never learned how to copy and paste. We consider that essential. Then there are those special laptop things that you never learn when you use a desktop PC. Like how to turn the Wi-Fi switch on and off (what Wi-Fi switch?!) and how to disable that pesky touchpad if you use an external mouse. We spent a lot of time deciding what we believe to be the 'essential' skills for today's laptop user, and here's what we came up with:

  • Session 1 – Word Processing, text editing, saving, managing files
  • Session 2 - How to backup important files to CD, and keep your computer clean and safe
  • Session 3: How to Use Wi-Fi to get online and browse, search, set up favorites
  • Session 4 Know your computer; make & model, operating system, hard drive size, memory size, support website, shutdown and sleep options, what to do when things go wrong
  • Session 5 - How to use Outlook Express or Windows Mail for your email
  • Session 6: How to manage your digital photos and make an online photo album with Picasa (a free program from Google)

Of course, there's lots more but the brain can only absorb as much as the butt can stand! I figure 2 days at 6 hrs/day is the limit for a pre-rally.

One couple in the class, Allan and Jeanne, are brand new fulltime RVers. They left home just last week! And, they want to start a blog. Although we don't cover that in the class, I told them that the skills they learn in the class will prepare them and the specific instructions for making a blog are included in the tutorial videos. So ... we'll be watching!

Ellie already has a blog, here's her post about the class. Pat and Jim also have a blog. Here's their post about the Computer Boot Camp. More photos on my Picasa Web Album .. just click on any of the photos above and then choose next or previous to see more. I understand there is also a group photo album set up for all of us to post photos. I'll have to go check it out.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice read and a good idea! The hands on boot camp sounds like a great idea, and looks like it went over really well.