Saturday, March 31, 2012

Computer Class for Beginners

Computer Class for Beginners
at MCI Concord
I was standing behind J. watching him animate his PowerPoint slide. It was the 11th week of a 12-week class in Basic Computer Skills offered to prisoners at MCI Concord. J., like many other students in this class had never in his life set hands on a keyboard or a mouse. Yet here they were, editing documents, making slides, and using spreadsheets.
Of course, these days, practically everyone is expected to be able to use a computer, even if only to get an “unskilled” job. With a little time and encouragement, computers have moved from being a barrier to being an asset for these men. There was a wide range of experience in this class, and everyone seemed to have a different idea of what a computer is and what it’s good for. What they all had in common was curiosity, an open mind, and a willingness to learn.
The computer class is a new project demonstrating the power of cooperation between the Department of Correction and CPO. The computer lab was assembled through the efforts of Deputy Supt. Karen DiNardo, using computers that were donated by the Computers for Schools program. The men at MCI Shirley Minimum take donated computers, refurbish them, and provide them for educational programs in our communities and in the prisons, thus learning by serving.
The new computer lab provides a classroom environment for nine students. CPO volunteers Eric Peters, Ray Andrews and Tom Lemaire, with the help of Tim Blancke, developed the 12-week curriculum that starts with basics like file systems, menus, and booting computers, and develops skills in word processing, spreadsheets, and PowerPoint.
If you are interested in volunteering, CPO is looking for people to expand this program to meet the growing demand. You don’t need to be an expert in computers. We train volunteers through apprenticing in existing classes. Computer skills help men get jobs and also build confidence that they can master new things. When you see the light in the eyes of a man who has just mastered a new skill, it makes it all worthwhile

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