For most people these days, using a computer is second nature. But for some senior citizens, booting up and finding the browser are entirely new concepts.
To assist these novice tech users, Weatherford College Wise County offers a continuing education class called “The World of Computers.” It’s an introduction to the most basic computer skills including Windows, word processing, and how to browse the Internet, and send and receive email.
“This course provides a basic introduction to people who have little to no knowledge of computers,” instructor Mike McCoy said. “One of the students who could barely turn on the computer and could barely type was able to successfully send and receive an email during a recent class. He has come a long way.”
Each Tuesday and Thursday about 20 students, most retirement age, gather to expand their computer knowledge. Some come alone; others arrive with a spouse as they learn the technology together.
“He’s taking it to encourage me to take it,” Betty Roberts said of her husband, Ernie. “He’s really familiar, but I am not. I’m always asking him to look something up, and he thinks I’ll be able to do it myself now. I had to learn how to turn it on, the very basics.”
Even the experienced Ernie has learned a few tricks along the way.
“I’ve been using these for awhile, but I didn’t know about the arrows (on the keyboard being able to scroll a web page) and being able to enlarge and reduce the font size (on a web page) and other little things,” he said.
“I took a course in 1952 for a UNIVAC. We used a punch card. We had our own business and ran a big mainframe.”
In those days, computers took up entire rooms. Now a cell phone is more advanced than the technology used to put men on the moon – and the learning curve for new users can throw them for a loop if they don’t get help along the way.
“I used to use the mainframe, too,” Betty said. “What I notice now is that when I try to use the computer, it knows more than I do, or it thinks it does.”
But she is gaining confidence in herself and believes she’ll be off Googling on her own shortly.
Bobbie Smith, 86, is another student encouraged to take the course by her spouse.
“My husband didn’t prompt me – he prodded me,” she laughed. “We’re quite elderly, and we are still living in the 20th century. We need to get into the 21st, but it’s way over my head.”
Smith wants to learn the basics so she can look up information and send emails on her own, but she doesn’t want it to become her entire life as it has for so many in the younger generations.
“I have too many other things to do,” she said. “I have my friends, and I love to play bridge.”
For more information on continuing education programs offered at Weatherford College, call 817-598-8870.
Crystal Brown is coordinator of public relations for Weatherford College.