10 years in journalism, with nine of them spent writing about
technology, I finally attended my first formal class on using
a personal computer.
cool, I thought, let me try and see how this matches my ``tech
most of my peers, I learnt how to use a PC through a process
of trial and error. I acquired my ``PC savviness'' by chatting
up industry members and watching the pros hit the keyboard
and navigate menus with their mice. Anytime anything went
wrong, or when the ``Bluescreen of Death'' appeared on my
monitor, my hand would automatically reach out for the phone,
automatically dialling a number to get expert advice.
here was an opportunity for me to correct past mistakes. Redemption
was at my door. I was going to undergo formal PC training.
Lesson in discovery
to our instructor, Joyce Chong, the eight-hour Windows95 Basic
class would be cushioned by three break-out sessions for lunch
and tea. After setting down the ground rules, she proceeded
to explain the format of the lesson.
explained that for the duration of the class, we would learn
the ``function and role'' of Windows 95 as an operating system.
tutorial was indeed a lesson in the elementary. It was also
an eye-opener to discover that many of us tend to take the
terminology -- simple terms like ``double-click'' -- for granted.
may be in everyday English, but the actions are still arcane
to people who've never used a mouse before.
class of six, comprising myself, a retired radio newsman,
two professionals, a student and a beautician, almost everyone
had at least used a PC briefly. But the level of understanding
was as different as night and day.
(like moi) knew what the Windows 95 desktop looked like, but
did not know that you could ``tile'' (there's that terminology
again) some of the wallpaper designs into patterns ....
knew how to open a new document and proceed with the typing,
but were not sure of the difference between the functions
of ``save'' and ``save as.''
that the absence of a Windows key on the keyboard was no big
deal -- hitting the Ctrl-Esc keys simultaneously activates
the Start menu.
everyone was used to manoeuvring the mouse to make sure that
the pointer was still sitting on the desktop and had not stepped
off into virtual oblivion.
indeed a refreshing experience. I must confess that I myself
was not too familiar with all the terms associated with Win95
basics, having limited my previous ``street education'' to
areas that were work related.
But it was free
the same with most of my classmates, who also said their experiences
with the PC were also confined to what they used daily. No
wonder many PC users complain that Windows is bloated with
tools that are not needed for day to day use.
were all pleased to be able to attend classes for free, through
a complementary coupon given by New Horizons Computer Learning
to the company's general manager in Ipoh, Patrick Hoo, free
classes started when NHCLC opened its doors here in October,
behind it, says Hoo, was to allow prospective customers to
experience the training methods for evaluation purposes.
helps them decide whether they should invest with us,'' he
says, adding that the centre has trained over 1,000 people
for free in the last three years.
lessons are however limited to the beginners level for Windows
95 and 98, as well as for applications like Word 97, Excel
97 and Powerpoint 97.
out that these courses are regularly offered for free as they
are commonly used by the majority of PC users.
levels and/or free courses are on a case to case basis. Customers
are welcome to audit our technical courses on Windows NT,
Novell NetWare, A+ Certification, Network+ Certification,
and others,'' he adds.
Chong, was both patient and an enthusiastic teacher. Instead
of students stopping her mid-way to clarify matters, Chong
would pause in mid-sentence and ask if we understood what
was neatly divided into little steps that added up to a complete
module. It was well conducted, with elaborate explanations.
Chong also delivered a recap of each module at the end of
the class would have been better conducted if all were taught
the most basic of skills, like, you know, how to switch the
apparently since the days of yore till today, still confound
most helpdesk staff. The most common complaints, they say,
stem from people who did not know where the power switch on
their PC is located.
I did not bring this up to Chong during our classes. It is
my personal belief that learning how to use a PC is partly
a private journey. It is kinda like the ``school of hard knocks
meets the guiding hand of a friend'' as you traverse the world
of information technology.
to encounter some problems and learn to resolve them yourself.
Good instructor who was able to engage class attention.
RM199 for basic stuff is a bit steep.