Mr. Chips, In Retrospect

Let’s roll that footage and go back over the plays I made. Let’s see how this “Introduction to the Internet” class went, what was successful and what wasn’t. And then, if we have time, let’s go for a slice of pie and a cup of coffee. We’ll start with the beginning and the end. The middle will unfold on its own.

I started the class about 10 minutes late, just to make sure I gave everyone enough time to get in, and finished about 10 minutes late, so it really evened out into a full 90 minutes. I began the class with 5 out of 6 students in attendance. For one of my library’s programs, that’s a good showing. (The sixth student called today, apologized for missing the class, and asked if we had another class on the schedule.) I ended the class with all of the students–all older men and women–saying they learned a lot and they would definitely be interested in more computer classes. So, any way you look at it, the class was a success.

The middle? Hmmmm…

I had much too much to cover in just one class. Did I give a quick overview of how the Internet works? Check. Did I explain how the World Wide Web works? Check. Did I show them how to use a web browser? Well, I showed them the most basic stuff, but didn’t have time to show them things like bookmarks and changing your home page, which is a shame. Did I give them the pros and cons of both IE and Firefox? You betcha. Did I still manage to get them interested in using Firefox instead of IE? I don’t know how I did it, but I did. (Behold, the power of Firefox!) Did I show them how to use search engines? I gave them the basics, but there was so much more I wanted to cover. Did I explain e-mail. Yes, but again, only at its most basic (as in “This is what e-mail is. Next!”). Did I get them hep to IM? I got them intrigued (so much for the “chat is only for ADHD teenagers” jazz), but by that point we were really running out of time, so all I could do was give them the most cursory of explanations. One woman actually looked visably frustrated that I didn’t go into more depth on IM, although that looked passed quickly. (As quickly as my coverage of IM. Zoom!) Did I talk about how to use the Internet safely? How to avoid viruses and worms and spyware? How to avoid phishing? Yup. No identity theft for my students, no way!

It wasn’t a flop by any stretch, but I really could have made two or three or four classes out of that one. And maybe I will in the not-too-distant future. My library originally committed to doing two classes, an introduction to computers (which one of my fellow librarians taught) and an introduction to the Internet. Seeing how there’s a demand for these classes, we’re now discussing doing one a month, developing a curriculum and teaching a rotation of computer classes on more focused topics. It’s pretty goshdarned exciting.

And now? Where’s my pie and coffee? I think I deserve pie and coffee.

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3 thoughts on “Mr. Chips, In Retrospect

  1. My immediate (and purely subjective) thought is that 90 minutes is too long a class for anything, except for graduate work in statistics. I would have set more sessions (seniors need to get out) and limited each session to 30 minutes, with a 10-20 minute refreshment/chat afterward. My feeling is that its better to learn a little bit well, than a lot not so well. 30 minutes is also a lot easier on the librarian/teacher.

  2. Yep.

    The only reason it was a 90 minute class was because the previous class (taught by my colleague) was 90 minutes, and they were supposed to be the same length of class. One of my first post-class suggestions was “less time, more focused content.” As it happened, the 90 minutes flew by. (For me, at least. For all I know, my students were getting ready to clunk me on the head with a laptop and run like hell.) But I still think the class should’ve been shorter.

  3. Trust your instincts.

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