It was a telling response offered up recently to the opening question in a basic computer class.
“Do any of you have Windows 7?” the instructor asked.
“I have clean windows,” a class member responded apprehensively. “I know I washed them last weekend.”
It wasn’t the expected answer, to be sure, but one that reflected a subtle sign of the times.
While basic computer skills are the household norm for many families, others are trying to become computer savvy – or in some cases just learn how to turn one on.
That’s prompting more people to seek basic computer training courses like those being offered at the Richland County Public Library.
Eager to develop a new skill or increase their employment prospects, many people are seeking to learn everything from sending emails to preparing resumes.
“A large portion of our students are re-entering the work force, enrolling in college or just have a general interest in learning more about how computers work,” said Crystal Johnson, who teaches the library’s basic computer classes.
But that new learning often presents challenges, she said.
“Learning how to use a computer can seem quite intimidating at first,” Johnson said. “The more you use the computer, the more you know how it works.”
The library’s introductory course focuses on such things as basic mouse functions, saving files, creating folders and introductory email. Follow-up classes build on those skills and include more advanced computer functions.
James Howard, formerly of Greenwood and now living in Columbia, has worked as a counselor and has some retail experience, but he has never had any formal computer training. He’s hoping the things he learns in the library course will help him as he seeks new employment.
“Now that I’m applying for so many jobs, I’m finding that I’m really lost (without a computer),” he said. “(On) all of these applications, they wanted an email address. I felt like it was necessary for me to get some training.”
Howard’s main goals are to learn to access his resume and send it to potential employers.
“This (class) is vital for me to be able to know how to do that,” he said.
Like many others, Columbia’s Pamela James is getting training to improve her chances in the job market, and she hopes to learn more about Microsoft Excel.
Johnson said the library’s introductory courses “are absolutely appropriate for job seekers, especially if someone is interested in working in a different, more technology-based field.”
Many enter the classes with little or no previous computer experience, so the library incorporates lots of hands-on exercises to give them practice.
Howard compared the classes to learning to ride a bicycle.
“You get on it and try it for a while and then you say ‘I can do that,’” he said.