Thursday, April 29, 2010

It's a Miracle

At the Senior Center

I've been "teaching" computer basics to Seniors at the local senior center since last September as a volunteer.   Usually in 4-week segments with vacation breaks in between. This past week we did digital photo basics. It was quite a challenge. It was only a 4-hour course over two days. I wrote the curriculum (a work in progress) and planned the lessons. We covered camera basics, downloading from the camera or memory card, basic editing, emailing, and printing photos. The classroom has eight computers running Windows XP. So that was the first challenge as I'm so used to my Mac.

But we got past that OK. The computers all had Picasa installed, so we decided to use that as our photo editing software. Picasa has a nice interface but does have some peculiarities. Like the way it imports every picture from every file on the computer automatically by default. You can undo unwanted pics and folders, but please, let me choose first. Then there's how folders and albums are displayed - strange...and the tendency to duplicate pictures...and having to "pin" photos in the "tray" when selecting photos from more than one folder...and...

The fact is we learned together and everyone seemed to enjoy the course. Larry and his wife had a camera for years and wanted to buy more memory cards till they learned that you can download the pictures and "erase the card". "It's a miracle", Larry exclaimed. Every time we covered a new feature, he'd blurt, "It's a miracle." It really made the class fun.

But I think I had the most fun. I learned new stuff. Working around Microsoft and Picasa was interesting, and the "students" were impressed that we were all learning together, even the "teacher".

I have two weeks till the next class. I do the same course again, for a different group of 8 students. But next time, I hope I'll be a little more proficient. Miracles? Yeah, I guess "It's a miracle".


  1. I'd bet that you are a fine teacher. Every good teacher I have known has learned as much as s/he has taught. Obviously, your students really like you, and it's always fun to be a miracle worker!!! Nice two-way street.
    Sounds like you're having a good time with your seniors, despite that evil Microsoft stuff!!! (big joke - ha, ha)
    Keep up the good stuff, Frank!

  2. It's so awesome that you do this. You also capture the reason I miss teaching so much. It's such an awesome experience to have people excited about learning.

  3. Sounds like fun and it's great that you do this.

    Me, I'd have em' writing code in VBA in the space of a week. I'm subversive that way. The real obstacle in it is learning the object model for the particular application. The language ain't nothing but BASIC on steroids.

  4. Truthspew, I wish I knew what you're talking about. On second thought, I'm glad I don't. I'm only a few steps ahead of my "students" and not a geek. For technical stuff I rely on friend Dave. I always say that I know just enough about computers to get myself into trouble. Thanks for the comment, whatever it means!



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