Thursday, May 15, 2008

Getting to know the Internet

I teach a range of basic classes for my library: computer, internet and email. These are just high level overviews with a few goals by the end of each class. Learn how to double click. Learn how to search for something in Google. Set up and email address.

Today I had a full class for Internet Basics. We require that people take the Computer Basics class. I am always trying to tweak my instructional techniques, taking notes on the class before, looking up different analogies to use, creating new exercises. And sometimes, the classroom ecology takes all the prep work and throws it out the window.

One of the things I took away from this class was a need to understand more about literacy. All seven of my participants were foreign-born and English wasn't there first language. This is one of the things I like most about my library, and how the diverse community is represented in our services and collections. It felt like two competing literacies in the classroom. First, teaching technology skills, explaining about the internet. How to enter an address, how to search, how to click on links, but aside from the instruction, how to use the mouse and navigating around the screen. Coupled with English language literacy, people who are learning English at varying levels may not understand some of the words I use. One of my students in fact told me that, she was learning English and sometimes she didn't know what I was saying. I also enter the assumption that people have the ability to read as well.

Breaking down technology into smaller bite size pieces is very hard. How to describe something like double click or navigating Windows XP without using any computer jargon is hard work.

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