Computer Classes at the Fort Morgan Public Library
I recently visited Lanny Page, technology librarian at the Fort Morgan Public Library, and talked to him about their highly successful computer classes. They are offering 6-8 classes a month, and most classes are full. I asked him to share some of the secrets to their success.
Describe your computer lab. What technology do you have available for training?
Our Computer lab has eight desk stations with eight laptops. There are optional standard mice for people to use that do not like the mouse pad on the laptops. We have an overhead projector and a station with a laptop for the trainer. We have a large pull down screen. We will also have a smart board in the lab in the near future.
Describe your computer classes. What type of training are you offering?
Our PC classes are usually full, and usually run around one hour in length. So far we have offered classes in: MS Word, getting around your PC, Excel, digital photos, Internet basics, Yahoo Email, mouse 101, basic keyboarding, ESL language skills, and Facebook.
How do you go about scheduling the classes? How do you decide what topics to teach?
Right now we offer classes on Tuesday afternoons and Thursday mornings. We were offering classes in the evening on Thursdays. We stopped doing that in the summer, but we will begin to offer evening classes again in the fall. We actually had a suggestion box and still take suggestions for classes that people want. Obviously we cannot fill all of those requests (Mac operating system for example), but we try to fill most of the requests. Most of the requests are for very basic needs in our community such as Internet, email, mouse and keyboarding instruction.
How are the classes being received by the community?
Our classes are highly successful, and are helping people at many different levels. Seniors are finding the classes very helpful in overcoming technology anxiety. Instead of computers being daunting, they are becoming an outlet for them and a “fun” class for them to look forward to. Not only are we offering classes to the public but we also offer skill training, office training and job skills with three current companies in our community. These include Goodwill industries, Colorado Job Service and Cargill Solutions in conjunction with Morgan Community College.
If you could offer advice to other libraries who want to begin teaching computer classes, what would you say?
I really believe that once you get the word out that you are offering these classes, they really sell themselves. “Free computer training classes!!!” That is like running an ad offering free money to people. They are going to respond and keep responding. These classes are in huge demand and you will have no problems filling the classes. At first you can offer basic needs such as “Getting around the Windows desk top”, “Internet basics”, and “Email”. For the mouse classes we use “Mouse aerobics”. Just type “mouse aerobics” in Google and you will find the program. There are several different ones out there. They are a wonderful mouse training classes online that are already setup! For keyboard classes, we use sense-lang.org. Go to the tutorial section. Click on the Keyboarding tab. There you will find 15 interactive lessons that teach people to type.