We are now into Week 3 of our fourth year at Parramatta Computer Pals and the club rooms are buzzing. Most of our current courses are full to capacity, and we are slowly filling up the five week courses commencing at the end of February. There are also a few vacancies in our two Monday short courses in Email Refresher and Skype. All our courses finish just before Easter.
Just about all classes now have buddies who assist the trainer by helping those students who feel less confident than other class members or who need help to catch up. I for one couldn’t do without my buddy in Google Tools, even though my students are all fairly experienced computer enthusiasts. Since late last year, we have included our growing crew of buddies in our trainers’ meetings, organised by Judy Joyce (pictured with trainer Peter Grove), our training coordinator. This has proved to be very worthwhile, with buddies contributing new ideas, and feeding back comments from our students.
This term we are introducing two new courses – an Email Refresher two hour course to be held on two occasions in weeks 6 and 7, and a Web Design course which has commenced with six intrepid starters one hour per week for nine weeks, extending for another two hours per week in weeks 6-9. This is very much a pilot project since there are so many ways to learn web design, and each student will have a different goal. It is very likely that this course will become a formalised Special Interest Group, but we’ll see.
In late January, Judy and Deborah organised a gathering of 17 trainers and buddies to introduce us to Microsoft’s new operating system, Windows 7. We recently acquired a new laptop with Win7, but only 3-4 of us had experience with Win7. It is really important we become familiar with it as quickly as possible, since we are now receiving enquiries from members who have recently purchased PCs and laptops with the new system.
Rather than try and “triple boot” the training room PCs, we decided that the differences between Vista and Win7 were not so great that we couldn’t include Win7 students in the same class as Vista students. The trainer and buddy would explain the differences and make the Win7 student feel confident to use their home computer.
After Deborah demonstrated some of the features of Win7, we discussed how all trainers and buddies could best become familiar with Win7. We decided that each trainer – with priority given to those who currently taught Beginners 1 & 2 in Vista – should borrow the new Win7 laptop and practice using the operating system. The Laptop would also have a Professor Teaches Win7 tutorial loaded. The laptop would be available for 2-3 days or over a weekend, but between use would be available in the club rooms for demonstrations and practice.