Carolyn Kraemer, Volunteer Instructor Reflects


“La lección divertida” (The fun lesson)

By the end of each Personal Computing for Beginners (PCB) class, students have gone from zero to sixty: after twelve two hour sessions, they can select text in order to copy and paste it, change its format, or erase it all together. They can open up an Internet browser and use the address bar to pull up a specific website and use a search engine to find information that they need, or send and receive messages online. Classes are challenging, frustrating, and exhilarating, sometimes simultaneously, and always hard work. If we get through all of the required material before the last day, I try to give everyone a break while maintaining momentum by “student-sourcing” the content of the final lesson – that is, I ask students what they want to learn, and then do my best to teach it.

Requests for material to be taught on this last day of class are always exciting to me, because they reflect the personal, unique reasons why students are interested in technology. There are a wide range of topics: one student hopes to listen to and download music online, others want to start learning to make their own websites or create accounts on Facebook. One of the most common, and most enjoyable, requests that I receive is that we go over how to share photos with friends and family. I love teaching this subject because it lets students use the Internet for something that’s meaningful to them, and it illustrates how they can use what we’ve already covered in class about saving files and attaching them to emails in their personal lives.

In my most recent PCB class in Spanish, I took this lesson a step further and explained how memory cards relate to the process of sharing photos online. Demonstrating with my own digital camera, I took pictures of the class and then uploaded them to the computer, finally attaching the images to an email that I sent to each student. Then we looked at the memory cards in our cell phones – students’ faces lit up as they grasped the accessibility of this concept and envisioned how they would replicate the process of sharing photos independently. In just an hour, we tapped into recently learned skills, explored how what we had studied about computers translated to other types of technology, and put knowledge into practice by creating our own memories through photos that we could share.

Photo captions: 1) Class group photo; 2) Byte Back Spanish language students examine memory cards in their phones

– Carolyn Kraemer, Volunteer Instructor