Basic Computer Skills for Patrons

www.gcflearnfree.org is a free e-learning site full of many different tutorials of interest to those in our department. The one I will highlight today is about Basic Computer Skills.

According to their “About” page the parent site gcflearnfree.org is:

A program of Goodwill Community Foundation® and Goodwill Industries of Eastern NC Inc.® (GIENC®), all GCFLearnFree.org® educational content is designed and produced in the GCF Global Learning® building in downtown Raleigh, NC.

So they are a free site designed to present learning opportunities on many topics free to anyone who has an internet connection.

As we have many patrons on a daily basis claim helplessness when it comes to using a computer, this tool will come in handy as a way to help a patron self-help themselves. Here’s how it works.

First, the patron would need to log in to https://www.gcflearnfree.org/topics/computers/ to see the course offerings:

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You can see that there are four subheadings: Computer Basics, Basic Computer Skills, Mouse Tutorial and Typing Tutorial. Once you engage in the Computer Basics tutorial you will begin here:

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More relevant to us on the Third Floor of Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library is the Basic Computer Skills course:

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This course starts with the basic skill of how to turn a computer on, then moves up from there. Not every single component of the training is necessarily relevant to our department or library as a whole, but many of the issues frequently mentioned to us as Reference Desk Librarians are addressed in these trainings.

Many patrons will not have the time or the incentive to learn using this method, but for those willing to put in a bit of effort this is definitely a worthwhile resource to which we may direct them.

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Improve Your Typing

For those interested in improving their typing (or learning to begin with) there is a great site called typing.com.

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This site is great, because while you may pay a fee to rid the site of ads, you may also take many lessons, from basic beginner to advanced, absolutely free. Additionally, you may practice to sharpen your skills as often as you like.

I advise you to sign up for the free account so you may keep track of your progress, which includes how you progress with increasing your words per minute and error rate.

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The display of all available classes is not only thorough and helpful, but you can choose any lesson in any skill level–you don’t have to complete the beginner lessons before you move on to higher skill levels, so if you just feel weak in a particular area you can go directly to lessons and practice for that area.

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When you choose your lesson you’re given an overview of what skill you’ll be measuring/practicing:

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This one is, obviously, for the u, r and k keys. Once you start typing it will begin measuring your error rate and typing speed.

Here’s a more basic one for the r and u keys.

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Once you complete the exercise you are given a score in this manner:

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You can also set up a teacher account, but I have to plead ignorance on that aspect of this site, as I have not explored it at all.

We type so often in this time of the internet, and especially as librarians we need to be able to type quickly and efficiently, so this site is a great way to keep our skills sharpened. It is also so user friendly, and free, that we may confidently recommend this site to patrons needing to improve their skills.

SPECIAL NOTE: Using the number pad is a much quicker, more efficient way to enter material item numbers, library card numbers and other long numbers. Check in this site for tutorials on how to best use the number pad and increase your speed and accuracy.