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Teaching an older generation basics skills

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#1 ident


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Posted 12 June 2012 - 04:03 PM

Struggling to think where to begin. The said person use to work with computers but bow struggles to organize folders, Thinks Hotmail is only accessible by thatthat user logged and does not realize it's on a different server.

I am a .NET programmer but have no idea what basic skills are are.

Advice, Help

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#2 Chris Cosgrove

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 10:56 AM

Hi Ident,

I teach basic computing as a volunteer in our local library to mainly students who are between 'older' and 'elderly' and I have learnt to be flexible. Essentially, I reduce it to the basics and then drill them in how to use the basics.

1 Keep it simple. Forget your detailed knowledge of how programs and systems work, very few users even need to know what a server is !

2 Practice, practice, practice. Once you have got your student an e-mail address, make sure they know how to log-in, read, write and send e-mails, and how to log-out. I do this by sending them half a dozen e-mails per session and then: Open browser, log-in; deal with one e-mail; log-out, close browser, repeat ! After they have got the basics of simple e-mails I move onto attachments, with a similar routine.

3 Storage and folders. The nice thing is that the Windows default is 'My Docs'. All you need to do is teach your victim how to open a new folder inside 'My Docs' from within the 'Save as' dialogue, and to impress on him/her that it makes sense to put letters to your bank manager in a different box from letters to your Aunty Mary. I use public and heavily protected computers in the library and have to use a memory stick to save anything, which does have the advantage of teaching people to navigate to a different drive, but most people don't have to.

4 Keep it simple. Most users, including experienced ones, have no need to know HOW a program works, only how to USE it. Don't try to teach people how a computer works, teach them how to use it. Once they are comfortable with the idea of using it, and have got round to producing usable work, then, if they want to, they can go deeper into the mysteries.

Regards, and best of luck,

Chris Cosgrove

#3 Layback Bear

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 05:44 PM

Very well put Chris. Don't try to teach people how a computer works, teach them how to use it.

#4 bitesized1612


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Posted 08 July 2012 - 08:58 PM

I worked on a project that helped create user guides (for email templates) for an older generation of workers. I learned that the key of good explanations is to consider what skills the person already has and then apply them in your teaching/instruction method. People aren't necessarily incapable of learning something new as long as they can see where it fits in their normal routine. This is a consideration not just for older people (all the computer gurus in my house are over 40) but for younger people too.

Hope that helps. :)

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