“You don’t understand, I haven’t used a computer before.”
“I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for the last 10 years.”
“My job didn’t require the use of a computer.”
“I didn’t grow up around computers.”
I teach a class, Intro to PC Applications, at a local community college. This class covers the Microsoft applications – Word, Excel, Access and PowerPoint – applications that are in great demand in today’s workforce. This is a required class for several of the degree paths and many of the certificates. There are no prerequisites for this course, so I get some incredibly full classes. My students ages range from 16 – 65+, I have high school students to adults in career transitions.
Every semester, I get at least a couple students who are brand new to using a computer. Some can barely use a mouse, others have only used a computer for email or just web browsing. Maybe they have used MS Word at its most basic level.
We start the semester learning MS Word. But not only are the students learning Word, but they must also learn to navigate the Learning Management System (LMS) and the separate online platform for many of their assignments. Additionally, they need to have some basic navigation skills on the computer.
The students new to computers? They struggle.
These students have to put forth a little more time and effort. I do my best to provide additional instruction before, after and during class. I provide video instructions and website resources. But being a part-time instructor, my time is limited.
It’s not long before I start hearing the excuses. I hear so many variations.
“This class is hard.”
“I don’t have time for the extra stuff.”
I get it. For most of these students with little or no past computer experience, this is also their first college course, or one of the first. There are a lot of new things going on at once. And in 15 weeks, for a total of 3 hours a week (class time), they are going at an unfamiliar pace.
I struggle with how to best meet the needs of these few students, when I have 20 others in the same class. The school does provide free tutoring and I encourage them to take advantage of the service.
I’m writing this post to let those students know that, while it can be a great struggle, there is hope.