Weatherford Democrat

May 11, 2014

Life-long learners browse computer concepts


Weatherford Democrat

 For most, using a computer is second nature nowadays. But for some senior citizens, learning to boot up the machine and find the browser are entirely new concepts.

To assist these novice tech users, the Weatherford College Wise County campus offers a continuing education class called “The World of Computers.” It’s an introduction to the most basic computer skills including Windows, word processing, how to browse the Internet and sending and receiving 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 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 a while 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.”

These days, a cell phone is more advanced than the technology used to put a man on the moon, and the learning curve for new users can throw them for a loop if they are not assisted along the way.

“I used to use the main frame 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 twentieth century, and we need to get into the twenty-first. 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 younger generations.

“I have too many other things to do,” she said. “I have my friends, and I love to play bridge.”

And she means in the same room without the aid of modern technology. What a novel concept.

For more information on Continuing Education programs offered at Weatherford College call 817-598-8870.