Blog for 'On Your Computer' Cable TV Series

“Give a man a fish, and you have fed him once. Teach him how to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime.”

Anonymous proverb

The Norfolk Community Television’s production, “On Your Computer” (OYC) is intended to teach and provide access for further investigation. Using material created for and used in face-to-face classroom tutorials, the ‘Introductory’ shows produce the framework to gain a rudimentary level of computer literacy. Each learning activity in those two-hours  (four 30-minute sessions) provide a stepping stone toward technological independence and once achieved—access to a much larger community.  The task of fitting each knowledge-packet into one 28-minute show (including opening and closing credits) means material may not be presented as some would like and for that reason the show supplements become essential. The first activity in Show #2 teaches how to locate and view the session’s supplement. These supplements provide a step-by-step walk-through for those needing additional assistance.

Provide a framework for learning…

Many elders have stated, “…in the past when I asked for assistance from a family member… the ‘expert’ would sit at the keyboard and produce the output I wanted without giving me a single word of instruction.”  When asked to please repeat and show them the procedure, “… they looked back at me as if I was dumb or blind.” The production OYC provides a framework of how to get from Startup to Internet to Email in three steps. Rather than ask a friend or family member to show that whole progression the viewer may instead ask a single question, “… from what I’ve seen from the show…can you show me this step again”. Show Four provides access to a show supported site for viewers to ask and answer questions that reinforce content-related show objectives so information can be obtained from their peers. Access to this secure Q & A site must be specifically requested giving contact information and an invitation will be sent to those meeting the show’s criteria. Users must agree to keep questions and answers within the scope of the show topics and be civil to one another after all, we are all learning together.

Show objectives beyond Introductory…

Looking forward many who have learned from these sessions ask, with this level of knowledge…where can I go from here? OYC provides links to answer that question. Each subsequent show offers an Intermediate segment on, what you should know as a responsible computer user. Remaining segments will branch off to new or adjacent technologies. Perhaps you or a relative already know how to create programs…they may want to know something more about the demand for this technology. You may find that you like to play computer games or simulations and want to know how they acquire new skills. If you are stymied about a new technology you may want to learn more about that without taking a formal course…where can I learn this without taking a class? A local or nearby user group may be the solution. Such groups are asked to present a topic in focus with their group and invite you to join them…OYC provides you with a link to stay connected to that group.

Volunteerism

“Enter to Grow in Wisdom.  Depart to serve better thy country and mankind.”

 Inscription on the 1890 Gate to Harvard Yard

Nowhere, it can be argued, that the spirit of nation-building and brotherhood is stronger than in the communities around Boston. Paul Revere’s historic ride, the shot heard round the world, the Boston Tea Party all comes to mind within a single ripple-wave of that town. Citizen soldiers believed the greater good outweighed personal gain. That spirit is as alive today as it was in Revolutionary Times. In 1977, Jonathan Rotenberg founded the Boston Computer Society that “…grew to become the largest personal computer user organization in the world—with over 30,000 members in all 50 states and 40 countries”.[1]  Although that founding organization is no longer, many user groups keep the spirit of Volunteerism alive today. I attended an outreach function of the Boston Linux/Unix (BLU.org) user group—their InstallFest XLVI recently where, early one Saturday morning, a simple chalk board lecture hall was transformed into a computer lab with wired and wireless connectivity to the Internet. Seven volunteer members descended on the scene with carts of computers, cabling, networking hardware, software, etc., all with the intention to help anyone who walked in the front door with their Installation of GNU/Linux Operating System on their personal computer. For a modest donation a technical expert well-versed in their field will sit down and install an elegant, powerful and nearly virus-proof GNU/Linux Operating System, configure it to your computer so that you lose nothing and send you on your way

Jill and Bob Miller in nearby Natick, Massachusetts offer free computer instruction every month at the Natick Senior Center to anyone, regardless of age.  Free Instruction on the GNU/Ubuntu distribution of Linux along with a free suite of LibreOffice Suite software (LibreOffice Suite is fully compatible with Microsoft Office). The Boston Network Users Group (BNUG.org) user group offer monthly stimulating interactive lecture on computer security and how to keep your network free from intrusion are but a handful of the volunteerism activities all within that ripple of Boston.

You Can Get There From Here…

Norfolk Community Television’s production of ‘On Your Computer’ attempts to capture that spirit of volunteerism and incorporate it with instruction for the novice and direct those well-versed with that medium to user groups where their thirst for added knowledge can be quenched.  In its 30-minute show format viewers in Shows 1 thru 4 are informed how to use, how it applies to the real-world and are given a sense of perspective for what is happening in the computer driven world beyond. In the shows moving forward it keeps the novice in mind with 8-minutes of what you should know (as a responsible computer user) on your desktop while the remaining two 8-minute segments are devoted to extending their knowledge (password protection schemes, social media caveats, virtualization, high performance computing, artificial intelligence, to name a few of the topics it will explore). Utilizing guest speakers the volunteer staff at NCTV will bring snippets of these topics together into our show with linkages to join the discussion or a suggested visit to this user group. The ‘On Your Computer’ show will assist you to get there from here!

One might question the disparity between volunteerism in times of war and that of the user group phenomenon. The message here is not the circumstance but the individual stepping forward to say, “If I do this then we will all be a little better for it!”

The Essentials…

“It is time for  a new generation of leadership to cope with new problems and new opportunities.”

John Fitzgerald Kennedy – July 4, 1960

This Blog is the companion our production ‘On Your Computer’. In the first four Introductory shows, each 30-minute segment provides those slightly behind the technological curve as well as the more experienced computer users instruction, techniques or new content to add to their computing skills. Based upon classes taught for adult learners spanning 40 years, viewers advance from Powering-On the Computer and Desktop Management, Internet Browsing, E-Mailing including where to get Online Help. Then more advanced show segments tackle desktop applications, emailing (with media attachments), keeping your computer virus-free, clutter free as well as ongoing user maintenance issues–topics every computer user must address.

Starting with Show #5 and beyond the show format will change into three 8-minute segments that will delve into working more effectively with new applications on a variety of  computing hardware, desktops, operating systems and media (emphasis is on free and popular software), news, weather and finance websites and security issues for all technology levels. For example one show segment may discuss upgrading the trusted computer or moving into newer products with advice from technical experts. Should  more information be available via a user group then a link will be provided. As you can see ‘On Your Computer’ has something for everyone!

Taped at the Norfolk Community Television (NCTV) Studios in Norfolk MA by an all volunteer staff, the shows are made available without charge to local COA Senior Centers and to other public access television stations around the country. Interested viewers should contact their cable television provider and ask for this FREE television series.

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