Subjects To Teach At Free Computer Classes?

I'm going to be doing free computer classes for our church. It won't necessarily be for the church people, but for the people in the community we are trying to reach. I feel it will be necessary for some to learn how to use computers since some do not know how and will have to find out how to get a decent job (even receptionists need to know basics about computers).


So here's my question to all of you. If you were going to get taught something about the computer, what would you want to know? For example, how not to get a virus on your PC? How about how to email? If you wanted to learn Word, for example what is it you'd like to know? How to sell on eBay?

Try to be as specific as possible. I'm asking all of you since I know you all have great ideas and can get me started in the right direction. Thanks everyone!

Misty from OH

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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 519 Posts
October 29, 20080 found this helpful

For people in the wrkforce - learn WORD and a spreadsheet...
Otherwise - definitely email - and maybe a tour around as to what the net has to offer - and how to search, search engines, etc. Then maybe how to find free software, etc.

By Guest (Guest Post)
October 29, 20080 found this helpful

Depending on your class's ability (which you will determine when they are in front of you), you may wish to start with things as basic as how to plug them in. Why do some peripherals need power cords to the wall, and some to the box?


I had the honour of teaching computer to people needing basics, and they needed ground up lessons. Keep a good attitude and answer questions from the class. Try not to make any sarcastic remarks, even as a joke.

October 29, 20080 found this helpful

I agree with both of the previous posts...start with the very basics, explain the jargon (what's a USB port, Mini USB, what do the terms memory, RAM, and ROM mean when you're considering purchasing a new computer? Remember, the questions may seem stupid to you, but this may be the first time these people have ever even had a chance/reason to ask.
E-mail is essential, as is Word, and Excell for the working world.
I don't know how much time you have (one class, or once a week?), but it might be a fun exercise to give them common texting acronyms (btw, lol, omg) and let them try to figure them out for homework!

October 29, 20080 found this helpful

I bet you will be dealing with a variety of skill levels. Your first question, to see how skilled your class is, would be to ask, "who knows how to turn on a computer?" You may very well have someone who does not know. From there ask questions to get to know your students and their level of skills and try to make your work plans around the various skill levels. Definately explain the jargon as mentioned and keep notes on who knows what skill level.


You are a brave soul. Good luck!

By Techie Girl (Guest Post)
October 30, 20080 found this helpful

I would do the same as the people suggested. Ask some questions to figure out there skill level. There are people that have never taken computer classes before and know how to check their email and do basic searches on the internet but anything like resetting their password will baffle them.

One thing that comes up often at my work that doesn't make sense to me is when people shut off just their monitor and they think they shutting down their whole computer. It's like they think the monitor is the only part of the computer. I would explain what the tower is and refer to it as the brain and the monitor as being just an output device that just displays a picture and doesn't do much else.


I'm curious to see what kind of posts you get. Also showing someone how to disconnect the cables from the back would be useful. I'm surprised at how many people don't know how to do this. Right clicking would be useful in a class too. This is something that a lot of people don't know how to do or know what it is.

Try to make it fun though. Like with a word class, show them WordArt and have them design a sign or picture with their name or something like that. It would be something neat to take home display on the fridge and say that they made it. I've done classes like this before and it was mostly older people that showed up. Just to let you know.

There is also lesson plans for Word or what ever you want on the internet. Just google search "Microsoft Word lesson plans". Good luck! I hope this helps! ~Techie Girl~

By Casey (Guest Post)
October 31, 20080 found this helpful

Whatever you do, please don't be condescending! I use a computer at work but still consider myself "illiterate" on it compared to others, and it's an awful feeling to be talked down to when you ask what some consider to be a "really dumb" question! I definitely think the real down 'n dirty basics, done with understanding and patience, will make your students love you!


Here are a few: how to "reboot", that you can get the same "task" done by hitting several different keys, what each tool bar icon can do (and practice makes perfect!), how to interject graphics into Word documents, e-mail basics (how to compose and send), and Word basics. Excel, Power Point, and other programs can be learned later once your students gain confidence. And, as a boost, teach them how to sell or buys some things on e-Bay or Have fun!

October 31, 20080 found this helpful

I take exception to your comment "even receptionists need to know basics about computers". You made it sound like receptionists have no brains! Receptionists nowadays do not just answer the phone, chew gum, and do their nails.


We use the computer quite a lot, e-mail, Word, Excel, Power Point, Adobe, etc. I think you need to apologize to all the receptionists in the workforce, but especially those that subscribe to ThriftyFun.

October 31, 20080 found this helpful

Sorry I didn't sign my name to my post about "dumb receptionists". I am not ashamed of my job. In fact, it's the best one I have ever had and I work for a great bunch of people.

Margaret from Denton, Texas
margarett at juno dot com

October 31, 20080 found this helpful

I help friends with computers quite often and one of the things they ask is how to download attachments to view, how to save a file and where to save it, (they usually can't find it later because they didn't watch where it was saved to). Another thing is to learn the file system -- the "tree" and how it works or the file drawer with all the folders and then the files inside - many don't seem to comprehend that.

By guest (Guest Post)
October 31, 20080 found this helpful

I teach the basics as part of my job. I teach one-on-one because each person is so different in their needs. Some can't even work a mouse, double click, or even type. (It would be helpful to have basic typing practice materials available for them -- perhaps the local library has some CD Roms that can be borrowed, such as Mavis Teaches Typing. Surely there are some websites to visit, as well, which could work into your lessons well.)

So, if you are teaching the basics, you'll have to establish a baseline of skills for each class or your students will be frustrated when they can't keep up or when they feel things are going too slowly. Perhaps having partners at the computer will help -- bringing their own works best -- and having some self-directed learning modules will help with those that are at a different level.

Also, plan for students to have some time to "play around" with the computer to practice the skills they've been taught. Give them the time to click on this and that to see what happens. They need to be able to explore without worried about time pressure or making a mistake. I suggest starting each lesson by letting students orient themselves to the computer again, and a short review of what they know. Then end each lesson with "play around" time. It's that freedom of exploration that will generate the most learning. The brain can't learn well -- or at all, if it is too stressed.

The most common things my students want to know are:

1. How to surf the Internet.
2. How to set up an email account and send and receive messages.
3. How to do simple word processing like saving documents, bold, italics, cut/paste text, centering, bullets, and tables.

Most students are amazed at how simple these things are to do, and they are so relieved and happy when they are shown how to do them. Many have wanted to hug me they are so happy.

NOTE: Check with your library because they may subscribe to the Learning Express Library as an E-library service. There are many interactive online learning courses that are free for people with library cards and they can work at their own pace to learn all sorts of things, including how to use a computer (i.e. surf the net, word processing, etc.).


Diamond Feedback Medal for All Time! 1,394 Feedbacks
November 1, 20080 found this helpful

I consider myself pretty good on a computer, (even using adaptive technology for the visually impaired,) yet I haven't the first clue how to sell on Ebay. Perhaps I'm not the only one.

November 1, 20080 found this helpful


What I meant about the receptionist comment is that it's not only about just answering the phone anymore. They are more involved than in the old days.

Lighten up a little. I have been a receptionist and my job now is even a bit like being a receptionist. I did NOT mean to offend anyone.

November 1, 20080 found this helpful

To everyone else,

You all have some GREAT ideas. I really enjoy hearing them all. They will help me out a lot.

Just to give you more information, the classes are all free to the community, I won't be getting paid anything to do them. It will be some of my 10% of my time I give to the Lord.

Also, I'm sorry if I did offend anyone with the receptionist remark, because that's not how I meant it (maybe some read more into it than what I wrote?). But I do NOT consider myself better than anyone else. I've been there before (not knowing how to do anything - even work a mouse - on the computer). I'm the first to admit that I do lock myself out of my computer by typing my password too quickly or just plain old forgetting what my darned password is to begin with. I always admit that to those that I deal with on a daily basis. They need to know that IT people are not perfect either. (I'm almost 40 years old - only learning computers over the last 10 years. I'm a little bit behind compared to some!) :)

So thanks for everyone's posts. I really enjoy hearing other people's point of view on what other's would like to learn on the computer. I just wanted to get some "lessons" made ahead of time so I'm prepared.

By (Guest Post)
November 1, 20080 found this helpful

I have really enjoyed reading the comments individuals have posted for feedback. Gives me an idea of something to do to help others. Thank you so much. Joan from MD


Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 126 Feedbacks
November 2, 20080 found this helpful

Teach them how to keep their computers clean.
Delete, defrag etc.

By Julia in UK (Guest Post)
November 2, 20080 found this helpful

I teach classes to students with various disabilities. When first starting, they all ask to learn to use email and the internet.

Most people can manage to teach themselves basic word processing but they tend to need a lot of help with spreadsheets - and they can be terrified of spreadsheets.

If you are teaching a group, run it as a classroom. Don't let selfish students insist on one-to-one help just because they like a lot of attention. Free classes bring out the worst in many people who expect individual tuition without expense. You are very good to volunteer to do this work.

February 7, 20110 found this helpful

Some people have Mac computers and don't know how to use them. They might not even have Apple care. If you are knowledgeable with Macs and their programs such as Word 2011 for Macs why not teach them how to use their computers. I just bought an IMac and I would have loved someone to teach me the basics but there is no one who does that in our area. I learned many things by trial and error but there might be seniors in your class who have always worked on a pc (like me) and then they switched to a mac. The operating system is totally different from a pc, so I am sure that they would love some help in that respect. Also their is Microsoft Word 2011 for Macs and Microsoft revamped their old Word programs. The new program isn't as easy to learn as the older programs. I'm sure they would be eager to learn that as well. Good luck!


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