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Old 11-30-2019, 07:58 PM
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Teaching Boomers Computer Literacy


Being unemployed sucks, so when they offered me teach some night school classes twice a week (starting this week) I happily agreed, even if pay is less than being on social. But ok, that is not the problem here. I also have some experience as a teacher at local community college (web design and HTML) from decade ago, so no problem here either. I just need some general brainstorming how to do the job properly.

Course is free, paid by state (EU in this case, as I live on the wrong side of the ocean), but only those in 45 - 65 yo group with college education or lower can join this class. Employed or unemployed, it is completely voluntary, but I'd expect some firms might put some pressure to certain employees to go and take this class.
Class consists of 10 4 hour lessons with very vague directives (brief theory, Win basics, Office basics, Internet & Email use and that is it), so I have very open hands how to run things here. Size is limited to 15 tails per group (as there are 15 computers in a class). Individuals are pretested before and in my group are those who can hold a mouse, click on an icon and open an app or browser and ruggedly use Gmail (preferably on smartphone), but that is about it. Teaching material is a very short and bland script you could read in about 20 minutes.

At some point I got an idea. Why not teach them computer literacy from the point of smartphone user? At least partially? Looks like everyone has at least some knowledge of Android, and since smartphones are basically computers it might not be so ludicrous idea to take it from there and slowly upgrade knowledge towards classical PC using.

What do ya think? Am I slightly off here? Any other ideas? Some general tips also gratefully accepted.
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Old 11-30-2019, 08:41 PM
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As an aging Boomer who constantly has to talk through my even more aging sister through various computer issues, I say start with the desktop. It's easier for old eye to read a monitor, it's easier for shaky hands to use a full size keyboard and a mouse than type with their thumbs, and it's easier for you to lean over the shoulders and gently show them what they need to do than if they're trying to work on a 6" screen.

And as a general rule of thumb, find out what they want to do with their computers (or phones.) Use email? Social media? Shop? Run a home business? Focus on specific goals. Integrate functions wherever you can. Don't just teach them to use MS Office Word. Teach them how to attach a Word document to email, and what they need to do to open an attachment sent to them.
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Old 11-30-2019, 08:47 PM
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And Solitaire! It's like Microsoft gave older users the ideal tool to.learn mousing skills.
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Old 11-30-2019, 09:04 PM
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Why the age discrimination? But, yes, sounds like you are not teaching Computer Science here, but how to use a computer as a tool to accomplish certain tasks. So, it would be good to specify those tasks before you begin.

NB the state must not be in the business of endorsing certain products (that is potentially scandalous); it's OK to use MS Windows, but show how to click on the same things on Mac OS and Linux as well; if they need a word processor show them how to download LibreOffice rather than mandate they buy MS Office, etc. ISTM such flexibility also indirectly contributes to nebulous computer "literacy".
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Old 11-30-2019, 09:40 PM
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Ah yes. Another catch here. I will not have permission to install anything on class computers including teacher's. I could bring mine, but but ... I've seen those machines (dated 2014). Win is upgraded to 10 and office is 2013, Firefox and Chrome, so that is the thing.

But they can install things on their smartphones ...

Age discrimination is let we say, as I see it, political decision. True seniors have their own classes, but I do not know details. Younglings (I'm 45 myself) are supposed to know at least something or be able to learn something by themselves about computers. And uneducated boomer group is seen here as the vulnerable group in this case. It is a classic example of a targeted social program, obviously.

I'm sure even in antisocial(ist) America such things exist in some form or another.

Last edited by yo han go; 11-30-2019 at 09:43 PM.
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Old 11-30-2019, 11:03 PM
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but only those in 45 - 65 yo group with college education or lower can join this class.
Okay, I'm confused. Who would not qualify as somebody who has "college education or lower"? Doesn't this cover all education levels?
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Old 11-30-2019, 11:21 PM
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At some point I got an idea. Why not teach them computer literacy from the point of smartphone user? At least partially? Looks like everyone has at least some knowledge of Android, and since smartphones are basically computers it might not be so ludicrous idea to take it from there and slowly upgrade knowledge towards classical PC using.
Speaking as someone in your target age range, but also as one who is both computer and smartphone literate, I think that sounds like a great concept. However, you should first try to get a feel for how familiar and comfortable with smartphones your students actually are. Do they keep them on all the time and use them the way most younger people to, or do they just turn them on when they need to call roadside assistance?
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Old 11-30-2019, 11:36 PM
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And Solitaire! It's like Microsoft gave older users the ideal tool to.learn mousing skills.
That was (part of) the point of Solitaire and Minesweeper.

If the OP is finding some reluctance to engage at all, then I've found that Street View has a hell of a wow-factor for someone who hasn't ever been online. Basics of search, mouse control, combined with prurient interest in some cases and basic curiosity in others.
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Old 11-30-2019, 11:57 PM
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Expect some dumb (to you) questions along the lines of why can't or how do or what if that to you might seem obvious. Your teaching people from the generation that invented or developed...well basically all the tech we take for granted today. I'd say expect some sort of pushback but if they're there taking the class maybe not.
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Old 12-01-2019, 02:24 AM
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What are the demographics of these people, besides age? Smartphones have been around for a while, so a lot of these people would have been relatively young when they got their first one. You think they haven't used it except as a phone for 10 years?
You see ads for big simple phones, but they aren't targeted to people 65 and under. Those phones are more useful for someone who has a problem hitting small keys on a screen. And those people are way over 65.

I'd say PCs are easier to start with since there is more room for menus and you don't have to dive as deep to get to a selection. However, I'm in a critique group where I'm the second youngest person at 68, and no one has any problem using Word in reasonably sophisticated ways, let alone emails. My step-mother had no trouble using computers at 90, and my father-in-law only stopped composing music with a program when he couldn't type anymore - at 99. I taught him how to program in Basic when he was 60.

In my experience what a lot of people don't know is what is going on under the application level. Teach them what to do when something goes wrong.
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Old 12-01-2019, 06:16 AM
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Ah yes. Another catch here. I will not have permission to install anything on class computers including teacher's. I could bring mine, but but ... I've seen those machines (dated 2014). Win is upgraded to 10 and office is 2013, Firefox and Chrome, so that is the thing.

But they can install things on their smartphones ...

Age discrimination is let we say, as I see it, political decision. True seniors have their own classes, but I do not know details. Younglings (I'm 45 myself) are supposed to know at least something or be able to learn something by themselves about computers. And uneducated boomer group is seen here as the vulnerable group in this case. It is a classic example of a targeted social program, obviously.

I'm sure even in antisocial(ist) America such things exist in some form or another.
I know you don't make the rules, but IMO looking online for stuff you need, downloading and installing it (all without infecting the computer with nasty malware) is also pretty basic computer literacy. It seems rather essential.

You could bring your own machine, but I thought the idea is for everyone to try it out for themselves, so you would have to bring 20 or whatever....

Again, it depends what tasks the modules require. Eg searching for ECDL lists base modules like Computer Essentials, Online Essentials, Word Processing, Spreadsheets, Theory: https://web.archive.org/web/20101214...Version_51.pdf
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Old 12-01-2019, 06:48 AM
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I think you're probably off, depending on exactly what the people funding this were thinking. What you describe is a set of basic computer skills that absolutely everybody in a corporate or organizational setting should have, before any specialization. Not being able to do the things you list potentially excludes people from the job market. Phones, on the other hand, still don't seem to be needed in the office world, despite everybody's use of them throughout the day. There's plenty you can do for the organization sitting at their desk with their networked computer, whereas there's very little you need your cell for if you're sitting at their desk working on their behalf.

Or am I misreading what the people paying for all this intend it to accomplish?
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Old 12-01-2019, 08:57 AM
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What are the demographics of these people, besides age? Smartphones have been around for a while, so a lot of these people would have been relatively young when they got their first one. You think they haven't used it except as a phone for 10 years?
They probably haven't used it except as a phone for 10 years- but there's a big difference between using your smartphone to watch videos, use social media, shop and send informal emails and being able to use a tablet or computer to do any useful work. I know an awful lot of people between 45-65 who are perfectly capable of using their smartphones/computers for personal reasons, but who don't know how to create a spreadsheet or attach a document to an email which is pretty much necessary for their jobs. In fact, a number of my husband's outside sales coworkers had some trouble at work because rather than reading and responding to emails throughout the day, they waited until they got home and dictated their response to their similarly aged wives - it's not just an age thing , I think some people just decide at some point they don't want to learn something new. I mean, I have people at work who are asking me for the thousandth time how to do something who tell me they're "too old to learn" - but I'm older than they are.
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Old 12-01-2019, 10:12 AM
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"Basics" to me starts with keyboarding. Not everybody in that age group learned how to type, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

There are little quirks to keyboarding, as well. Lower case "L" used to be substituted for the numerical "1." The computer doesn't recognize that substitution, and I spent my share of time tearing out my hair wondering what in the HELL I was doing wrong when the damned thing wouldn't work!

Likewise, upper case "O" was a substitute for zero "0."

There are characters on a keyboard that don't appear on a standard typewriter keyboard. A code sheet can be handy for those just starting out.

And above all, folks need to know they cannot "break" anything. They won't be able to launch WW3, or accelerate global warming. Mistakes can and will be made, and part of learning is recognizing mistakes and learning how to fix them.


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Old 12-01-2019, 10:44 AM
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Is having a smartphone a requirement?

I'm a programmer, and own a smartphone. I think starting with Smartphones is a misrepresentation of what the class is for. Sure smartphones are computers, but that's not likely what people are there for.

Another thing, are you prepared to teach half the class in iOS, and the other half in Android?
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Old 12-01-2019, 10:47 AM
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...And above all, folks need to know they cannot "break" anything. They won't be able to launch WW3, or accelerate global warming. Mistakes can and will be made, and part of learning is recognizing mistakes and learning how to fix them.~VOW
This too. It's not magic. Get them used to navigating around. Move files, create folders and such. Do make note that there are some places that they should not touch.
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Old 12-01-2019, 12:29 PM
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Okay, I'm confused. Who would not qualify as somebody who has "college education or lower"? Doesn't this cover all education levels?
I'm guessing the OP is in a country where "college" means "high school," and that the idea is that this is a class restricted to people who do NOT have a university degree. I would also suggest this is a far more salient demographic characteristic than age, because 45-65 is not that old. About half the people in that age cohort are not Boomers at all, they're Gen X. My parents, who are 73, are Boomers, and I can pretty much guarantee that they'd laugh in your face if you suggested they needed a computer literacy class, as they have spent most of their working lives using computers (and teaching other people how to use computers). However, if these are people who have limited exposure to computers because they used to have blue-collar jobs and are now trying to retrain for an office environment, THAT is probably a more relevant characteristic.

If this is the case, I agree with Napier -- you should keep the focus on computers, not phones. It sounds like they already know how to do things with phones; what you want to teach them is the stuff that is different, not the stuff that's the same. I'd also suggest using the first class to ask them what they want to learn, as well as assessing what they already know and don't know by giving them some sort of practical pretest (for example: navigate to X website, copy and paste the first paragraph of text into a word processing program, type up another paragraph responding to it, double-space the whole document, save it in such-and-such a file format, and send it to the instructor as an e-mail attachment). Be sure to observe the room closely while all this is going on. You might be surprised at what gives them trouble and what doesn't.
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Old 12-01-2019, 03:20 PM
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Give them some information on all of those scams (the advance-fee scams, the calls claiming to be from Microsoft or Apple and so on).
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Old 12-01-2019, 03:52 PM
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[...]

And above all, folks need to know they cannot "break" anything. They won't be able to launch WW3, or accelerate global warming.

[...]
Many of us have had experiences where you could, more or less, "break" something while doing something quite innocent.

One I remember was when our factory first installed electromagnetic badge access, with the security system operated by a 286 PC. You had to use floppy disks to record the access records at the end of every day. One day our top engineer, who had to do this job because he was our top engineer and there weren't corporate IT people, plugged in a floppy to download the records. Unfortunately the floppy was defective. The computer immediately crashed and locked all the doors so nobody could get in or out, and this was at about 5:00 PM. It was something like 45 minutes before he could figure out how to get it running and get the doors open again.

Another happened to me. I had a Sun workstation. This was around the time of the transition between BSD and SVR4 UNIX, with an X-Windows GUI. I wasn't trying to use the computer, I was just putting a little cardboard box on my desk. Suddenly the workstation started going wild. Apparently, their version of Windows Explorer (whatever it was called) happened to be open, and the box caught a mouse button and dragged my user directory into one of its own subdirectories. At the time, there was no mechanism to keep you from trying to do that, you just had to know not to do something so unreasonable. Which of course the small cardboard box didn't know. The machine started recursively copying files, directories, and nested levels of directories, deeper and deeper into themselves. It took me a few minutes to figure out why it was so busy and what had happened -- and I think more than a week to undo all the damage.

And then there was the time I accidentally used a space character as the first character of a filename, which the system also did not prohibit, but which messed all sorts of things up. I couldn't specify the file to change its name, etc etc.

Learning that you can "break" something was once a very reasonable thing to learn, and now it's harder than you might think to unlearn. If they started making cars that would rescue themselves at the last moment if you try to swerve into a wall, you'd still have a hard time bringing yourself to try swerving into a wall.

Last edited by Napier; 12-01-2019 at 03:53 PM.
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Old 12-01-2019, 04:55 PM
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And above all, folks need to know they cannot "break" anything. They won't be able to launch WW3, or accelerate global warming. Mistakes can and will be made, and part of learning is recognizing mistakes and learning how to fix them.
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Give them some information on all of those scams (the advance-fee scams, the calls claiming to be from Microsoft or Apple and so on).
Yeah. It seems to me that they can "break" something, in the form of getting a nasty virus, falling for a scam, or compromising their personal information.
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Old 12-01-2019, 07:35 PM
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They probably haven't used it except as a phone for 10 years- but there's a big difference between using your smartphone to watch videos, use social media, shop and send informal emails and being able to use a tablet or computer to do any useful work. I know an awful lot of people between 45-65 who are perfectly capable of using their smartphones/computers for personal reasons, but who don't know how to create a spreadsheet or attach a document to an email which is pretty much necessary for their jobs. In fact, a number of my husband's outside sales coworkers had some trouble at work because rather than reading and responding to emails throughout the day, they waited until they got home and dictated their response to their similarly aged wives - it's not just an age thing , I think some people just decide at some point they don't want to learn something new. I mean, I have people at work who are asking me for the thousandth time how to do something who tell me they're "too old to learn" - but I'm older than they are.
Unless the people at your work are very stupid, and I doubt they are, I think the problem is that they don't have a model of how computers work. My wife doesn't. I have to explain to her over and over that you can't zip a file from within Word. While the screen of files in Word looks just like the screen in Windows in the file system manager, they are two different things. If you don't have a good feel for the structure of the machine, it all seems very random.

I agree that teaching PC stuff is probably more useful than teaching smartphone stuff.
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Old 12-01-2019, 08:54 PM
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Okay, I'm confused. Who would not qualify as somebody who has "college education or lower"? Doesn't this cover all education levels?
My brain fart. I meant high school education or lower.

As to clear some other circumstances, classes are free but there are limited slots in a given time. Program is supposed to end in 2022, but as for frequency I have no idea. Groups are ad hoc homogenized, but I'd expect my pupils computer-fu knowledge would probably be of around modern 10yos.

Smartphone idea is basically meant to show the parallels with PC where applicable and thus give them some head start. Also to minimize effect of lecturing bland comp theory topics (bit/byte, data/information etc) and, as you pointed out, to soften "that button will start ww3" attitude. And I got all their emails and all but one is gmail. And I'd be really surprised to see an iPhone, giving the demographics here.

But you are right about something. How the heck should I teach them to install something without permission to do that? Installing something on PC is way more complicated (for that specific group) than just consuming something form Playstore.

I expect a lot of improvisation in the beginning. But I'm sure I'll be ok. Thank you.

I'll keep you informed, if interested. Report follows by the end of the week.
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Old 12-02-2019, 01:19 AM
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a note about "breaking" things:
Yes, you can break things.
It's a legitimate problem and students must be taught to be careful.

Example: in Windows Explorer, it very easy to erase your file by accident.
When copying a file from one folder to another, the right-click menu is dangerous.
"copy" is adjacent to "cut".
And after you've pasted it to the new location, there's no notification whether you erased the original or not.
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Old 12-02-2019, 02:37 AM
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a note about "breaking" things:
Yes, you can break things.
It's a legitimate problem and students must be taught to be careful.

Example: in Windows Explorer, it very easy to erase your file by accident.
When copying a file from one folder to another, the right-click menu is dangerous.
"copy" is adjacent to "cut".
And after you've pasted it to the new location, there's no notification whether you erased the original or not.
That's a good example of what I was getting at. Anyone teaching how to copy files should also teach what the Recycle Bin is. That's not something a novice is likely to figure out without help.
Teaching the right click menu is a lot easier for people who understand the basics of a file system.
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Old 12-02-2019, 03:13 AM
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As a Boomer myself (almost 60 years old), I'd suggest a course on smartphones, not computers. I've used computers at work since about 1986, watched them evolve, and am thoroughly used to them. Where I need help is my smartphone.

I can use a smartphone as a phone easily enough, and I finally got the hang of texting, but it's all this "app" and "sync" stuff that confuses me. How do I download an app? Why would I download and install an "app"? How do I "sync" (whatever that means) my phone with my car and my home computer (and why would I need to)? Can I load music on my phone? How do I rip my DVD movies so I can load them on my phone? Can I stream TV shows and sports? If so, how?

Don't answer, because they are rhetorical questions, and I have enough younger local friends that have helped me through them. Younger people seem to understand these things easily; it's us older folks that need help with the gadgets that reside in our pockets. I don't need a "How To Use a Computer" course; what I need is a "How to Use Your Smartphone To Its Fullest" course.
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Old 12-02-2019, 03:30 AM
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ooh, I just thought of another good tip!
When teaching people about computers, NEVER touch their computer (or phone).
Make them do it all by themselves.

i learned this while explaining to my parents (at age 80).
Clasp your hands behind your back,to avoid the urge to grab the mouse and show them (for the umpteenth time)how to do something.

Some things require hands-on learning. (like teaching a child to tie his shoes )
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Old 12-02-2019, 04:56 PM
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But you are right about something. How the heck should I teach them to install something without permission to do that? Installing something on PC is way more complicated (for that specific group) than just consuming something form Playstore.
It is, but how often do you need to install something on a PC? Especially these days? Especially if you're not a heavy computer user? If anything - you might want to teach to not install things on your PCs because you probably don't need it and a decent percentage of things that are asking to be installed are malware.

(Or maybe I'm just alarmist)

What's the purpose of the class? For people to do better at their jobs or get a job if they don't have one? For people to use the computer they already have in their own home?
Do they have tasks that they already do on the computer, but do "wrong" (or in a less efficient way than they could if they had a little more knowledge?) I think that what you do really will depend on what the class is looking for.
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Old 12-02-2019, 06:25 PM
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I would have expressed some indignation to all this, as I'm 72 and am perfectly cromulent with computers and smart phones. But last night at a concert I watched a woman, who was likely not much older than I, struggle to take a photo with her friend's camera, even after being told several times to "touch the big white circle". And then there's my cousin's ex-wife who is four years older than I am, who can barely do emails.
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Old 12-02-2019, 06:28 PM
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I think there will always be a need to teach people computer literacy. But I had to laugh at the title of this thread when we all know it was BOOMERS who invented the WWW, USB ports, the ethernet and the Apple II. But yeah I suck at excel....
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Old 12-02-2019, 07:03 PM
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a note about "breaking" things:
Yes, you can break things.
It's a legitimate problem and students must be taught to be careful.

Example: in Windows Explorer, it very easy to erase your file by accident.
When copying a file from one folder to another, the right-click menu is dangerous.
"copy" is adjacent to "cut".
And after you've pasted it to the new location, there's no notification whether you erased the original or not.
Yes. I would suggest teaching the importance of back ups. If you properly back up your system, you are not likely to break something in a way that isn't recoverable. You may lose something, but it should be far less than everything.

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[...]What's the purpose of the class? For people to do better at their jobs or get a job if they don't have one? For people to use the computer they already have in their own home?
Do they have tasks that they already do on the computer, but do "wrong" (or in a less efficient way than they could if they had a little more knowledge?) I think that what you do really will depend on what the class is looking for.
2nded. These are the questions I think you need to answer before deciding how to teach the class.

Also, another suggestion, which can apply to smartphones or any computer: teach how to troubleshoot/search for a solution. I get asked all the time to solve people's phone or computer issues. I've started walking people through it instead of doing it for them. I have no special knowledge of computers. For most problems, the basic steps are, explore the menus to see if there is something related to the problem. See if it leads to a solution. Google the issue. Try to assess the sites offering info/solutions for credibility and reliability. Try those solutions. At this point, the problem is usually either solved, or determined to be a "known issue" of some sort. Anyway -- I'd set up everyone's computer with something wonky one day -- alternate keyboard layouts, monitors displaying wrong, mouse set up for left hand, etc. Make them explore how to fix it on their own after being told how to get started.
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Old 12-02-2019, 08:32 PM
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Also, another suggestion, which can apply to smartphones or any computer: teach how to troubleshoot/search for a solution...
The biggest challenge teaching my parents and older students is that they hear the word "COMPUTER" and their brains freeze up: "Oh, oh! I had a box pop up with a warning!" Okay, what did it say? "How should I know?" Did you read it? "Good heavens, no!"

If it has to do with a computer, they assume (sometimes subconsciously) that they'll never understand it, so they don't even try.

I teach a class called "Introduction to Computer" at a local tech college... What a catchall of ages and skill levels and goals. One semester, I claimed I was going to paint a yellow dotted line down the middle of the classroom. Millennials on one side, Boomers on the other.

Now, here's where that really made a difference: the "kids" (who'd grown up gaming) instinctively tried different things over and over when something didn't work the first time. The "oldsters" froze up or waited until an authority (moi) told them what went wrong and gave them permission to try again. I noticed one (grey-haired) woman sitting at her iMac with her hands in her lap... she "didn't want to break anything."

(Lest you think I'm being ageist, I'm a Boomer with grey hair myself... who grew up pre-PacMan and is older than the oldsters in class).

So if you can figure out a way to get your audience to get over an innate fear of the unknown and technology and "doing something wrong", that's half the battle.

Last edited by digs; 12-02-2019 at 08:35 PM.
  #32  
Old 12-02-2019, 09:30 PM
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So if you can figure out a way to get your audience to get over an innate fear of the unknown and technology and "doing something wrong", that's half the battle.
Hardly new, though. Your technophobe students probably had VCRs which flashed 12:00 eternally.
  #33  
Old 12-03-2019, 06:50 AM
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I know you don't make the rules, but IMO looking online for stuff you need, downloading and installing it (all without infecting the computer with nasty malware) is also pretty basic computer literacy. It seems rather essential.
Indeed. Demonstrate the difference between downloading software from a valid website and downloading software from >>>DOWNLOAD HERE!!!!<<< and how a once happy and healthy computer can turn into a barely functioning disease box with a few clicks.

Itís also useful to be able to pull up the basic system specs and disk properties (available space, etc.)
  #34  
Old 12-03-2019, 07:11 AM
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Give them some information on all of those scams (the advance-fee scams, the calls claiming to be from Microsoft or Apple and so on).
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Yeah. It seems to me that they can "break" something, in the form of getting a nasty virus, falling for a scam, or compromising their personal information.
Yup. Please teach them about recognising and avoiding phishing emails, and advance fee scams. It's not just the older element of the population that falls for these, but the damage when they do is often greater (i.e. getting scammed out of their life savings/pension/retirement fund)
  #35  
Old 12-04-2019, 08:14 AM
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Here's another Boomer perspective on computer fear. I think I'm likely to be judged at work whenever computer skills are in question. It's not just a question of embarrassment, there's an issue of career survival, sort of -- I don't think I'll lose my job, but neither do I want to be a floundering "oldster".

I think our tools for hosting meetings online are too complicated. The instructions are 76 pages long, and they're detailed numbered steps that all seem arbitrary, not connected by any logical structure. Yet somehow we're supposed to be able to do it.

Maybe we can, and maybe we can't. It's very common for our meetings to be delayed by 10 or 20 minutes or more because of "technical issues". We had a very planned meeting weeks ago for which content was prepared and several panelists were brought in, and the first 45 minutes were lost because the young and technically savvy people in the room, plus the person from the IT department brought in to fix it, couldn't get the online part to connect. Everybody shrugs and considers it common. As a Millenial commented to Boomers during a meeting last summer, "The difference between you and us is that we don't expect it to work. When it doesn't, we just move on." Only thing is, when we have presenters waiting and slides cued up and panelists cooling their heels, and we can't connect to half the audience, I don't know how to "just move on". I wind up thinking the rest of the world's crazy.

But here's the thing: while nobody did actually figure out what was wrong with the connection, and everybody accepts the delay as a meaningless phenomenon without explanation, I am pretty sure what the explanation would have been if it was a sixty-something trying to run the show. Never mind that software I wrote in assembly language more than 30 years ago worked for us for more than a decade, never mind that now I'm learning computational fluid dynamics and write my own code for statistical nonlinear iterative modeling and finite element modeling.

I could go on -- sorry. The point is that there's something big wrong here, and it isn't that older people are stupid. I think there's something about the computer world that keeps growing less workable.
  #36  
Old 12-04-2019, 10:03 AM
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As a Boomer myself (almost 60 years old), I'd suggest a course on smartphones, not computers. I've used computers at work since about 1986, watched them evolve, and am thoroughly used to them. Where I need help is my smartphone.

I can use a smartphone as a phone easily enough, and I finally got the hang of texting, but it's all this "app" and "sync" stuff that confuses me. How do I download an app? Why would I download and install an "app"? How do I "sync" (whatever that means) my phone with my car and my home computer (and why would I need to)? Can I load music on my phone? How do I rip my DVD movies so I can load them on my phone? Can I stream TV shows and sports? If so, how?
I think the OP would be well served by explaining some basic components- what an application/program is, what the file system is, what the network/internet is, and how they're all separate but work together.

In my experience, the muddying of these concepts is an impediment to actually learning how computers/phones work and being able to subsequently continue to learn/solve problems.

I mean, when someone talks about "loading the internet" onto their PC, it's clear they don't understand the difference between the browser application and the network that it communicates through, and without that basic understanding, they're going to have a hard time troubleshooting or even describing the problem to a tech support person.
  #37  
Old 12-04-2019, 11:22 AM
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I mean, when someone talks about "loading the internet" onto their PC...
Uhhh, ohhh... so that's why my computer's been so busy.

Guess I didn't really need to fill my server rack with these petabyte drives...
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Old 12-04-2019, 12:30 PM
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Uhhh, ohhh... so that's why my computer's been so busy.

Guess I didn't really need to fill my server rack with these petabyte drives...
Well, yeah, it's an absurd idea to those of us in the know.

But that's what I'm talking about- they don't draw a distinction between a website, the browser used to view it, or the network that gets the data from there to here.

I always have liked the analogy of a browser as being kind of like a magic mirror, or some sort of optical device that lets you see a website- it's an enabling device. It fulfills the role of the television set- it receives a signal and displays it, in a more interactive way than a TV, but ultimately very similar.

Meanwhile the server is like the TV station, and the network is the broadcast signal.
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Old 12-04-2019, 12:49 PM
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Because of the name of the class and the audience, I wouldn't go with the smartphone angle. I'm not sure that's what they are looking for. I think you should teach them to use typical PC programs at a medium level. For example:

Word: Documents with different color, fonts. embedded pictures, graphics, multiple columns
Spreadsheet: Basic row/columns, sorting, basic formulas, basic graphs, embed graphs in spreadsheet
Email: Formatted email, embedded pictures, attachments, reply, forward, CC, BCC

I would guess that they are familiar with browsers, so probably don't need to spend too much time on that. But maybe spend some time showing them how to get the most out of the web. Go to YouTube for music and how-to videos. Go to wikipedia and look up stuff. Show them google tricks to optimize searches.

Since these are school computers, you won't be able to delve too much in the low levels like installing hardware, software, changing settings, etc. That should be okay. They can always call their children to help with that stuff
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Old 12-04-2019, 01:11 PM
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Also, teach them a bit about how to avoid scams, viruses and trojans. However, I'm not sure if it will do any good. I've been helping my in-laws for years and they still click on popups without reading or understanding them. Anyway, teach them some of this:

- read popups
- don't click things they don't understand
- if they get an error, take a picture or write down exactly what it says so that the person helping them will be able to figure out the problem
- don't install anything unless you really know what it is
- don't install toolbars or browser extensions unless you really know what you're doing
- don't open attachments unless they know what they are
- have a virus scanner
  #41  
Old 12-06-2019, 07:52 PM
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Here be quick summary after three meetings.

I was a bit rusty at a beginning, mumbling a lot, loosing a thought in mid sentence, talking to the board and such, but going better now. Although there is still a lot to do refine my lecturing and rhetoric-fu.

Nice bunch tho. Half male half female. Two quit after first sessions, so I'm down to 12. But these look motivated enough and I find them surprisingly easy to work with. All have Android smartphones, as suspected, and some kind of PC at home, one even brought his own quite fancy laptop.

Ok. Main problem was catch-22-like. There are required scripts for the students on the Moodle online classroom. So I had to teach them first how to log in and use Moodle. To use Moodle, they need to know how to use browser. To know how to use browser, they need to know how to use some Windows and use mouse, and use keyboard. And then you see half of them have no idea have to use Shift or Caps Lock properly, and new password is required to be highly mixed 8char. And all you can think is some muck is about to hit the fan. So long, deep breath followed. And today, After 12 hours of lessons, I finally show them how to save friging pdf script on the desktop. Haven't even got to teach them how to copy paste yet. I would not bother to teach them cut function for sure. To risky, as some of you pointed out.

It is going slooow. Expected, but still ...
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