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Computer class gives newbies the basics

Staff photo by Clay Schuldt LeRoy Nosker Tanner demonstrates the basics of scanning technology to the computer class.

NEW ULM — The New Ulm Library held the final class in the Basic Computer Course, Friday.

In the final class, Library Programming & Technology Services Librarian LeRoy Nosker Tanner led students in on the basics of downloading and uploading from the internet.

Tanner has been teaching the basic computer class since August. The course is six weeks long with a new one scheduled to start in October. The class is for anyone who does not feel comfortable with normal computer operations.

The final class began with a test. Tanner had students turn on a computer. He explained how the on-button can be located in different parts of the computer, depending on the model. Once the computer was on, students used basic interfaces–like the mouse–to navigate the screen.

One student commented that it did require a lot of hand-eye coordination to operate a computer.

Tanner agreed and suggested students used voice command technology if they struggled to see a screen or use the mouse. Voice command technology was developed specifically to enable everyone to use computer technology.

The main focus of the class was uploading and downloading. Tanner explained the basic differences and scenarios in which users would download or upload. He said usually uploading is used with social media. People wishing to share pictures will upload photos to the internet. Other users can choose to download those photos onto their computer devices.

Tanner warned about the trade-offs to downloading and uploading. He said once something is uploaded to the internet, it is there forever and other people have access to it. With downloading, there is the risk of bringing unsafe software onto a computer. Computer criminals will often try to trick people into downloading unsafe files to steal personal information.

Tanner cautioned against downloading files from unknown sources or even downloading information that was not requested. He said some criminals will pretend to be businesses or government entities to steal information over the internet. Students were reminded that the federal government will never send an email asking for personal information to be sent online.

The class also covered the different methods of storing information. Tanner explained how discs, flash drives and SD cards could be used to save information off the computer.

The class ended with a tutorial on how to use a scanner.

Tanner said the class’s final homework was to practice the information they learned in class.

“I’ve had many people say ‘I am done with a computers’ or ‘I am too old to learn,'” Tanner said. “No, you are not too old to learn. It just takes practice.”

He said any skill you don’t use, you risk losing it.

The computer students were excited to learn the basics of computers. Student Arlene Phillips said she owned a scanner, but did not understand all its functions before taking the class.

“When you’re 85, it is hard to learn,” student George Reiser said. After taking the course, Reiser said he was not afraid to turn a computer on.

“It took a lot of my fear away,” he said.

This was the first basic computer class Tanner has taught in New Ulm, but he has been teaching courses like it since 2015. He said the way he teaches the class is always changing to accommodate new technology.

Since teaching the computer classes, Tanner said students are most interested in learning about the internet.

“They want to know what it is, how to use it and how to stay safe on it,” Tanner said. He added that staying safe on the internet was something younger people needed too. A lot of young people have grown up with the internet but are not aware of the trade-offs of using the technology.

The next basic computer class will begin in October. There are currently two open positions in the class. The class is free to join and there is no age requirement. Students may sign up for the class by filling out a survey at the Library Circulation Desk to help schedule times for the class.

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