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Learning computers for seniors


Learning Computers for Seniors

It can often seem like kids nowadays pop into the world already able to use a PC. But there’s no reason why you can’t learn as well. It doesn’t have to be as hard as it can look — if you go about it the right way.

You can learn how to use a PC however you like — it’s up to you! But here are some tips that you might find helpful.


First of all, don’t try to learn it all in one go. Intensively going at it to try to learn in one afternoon just doesn’t work very well… and it’s not much fun, either! Instead, spend say 20-30 minutes an evening a couple of times a week on it. Of course, if you’re having fun and want to do more, that’s fine, but don’t feel you have to.

Every so often, look back at what you’ve learnt and make sure you can still remember it. When you first learn something it’s easy to forget it again quickly — when you’ve been back to it a few times it goes into long-term memory. The other key to making sure you remember things is to try everything out. Don’t just read about something and think “Oh yes, I can do that” — even if you can, still actually try it out. That way it’ll be much easier to remember.


Once you’ve tried a new skill out (for example putting photos into a text document), have a think about how you might use it (making a poster, a car advert, a story for the grandkids, a booklet about your holiday…). Then try doing some of them. Trying out what you’ve learnt in a “real” situation helps it to stick in your mind — plus you actually get something useful out of it. Even if you don’t want to spend a lot of time doing this, do have a think about how you might use what you’ve learnt. It’ll help you understand (and so remember) what you’ve learnt better.


Check you’ve got the right information for your country, too. Most things are the same for all countries but some do matter. For example, imagine you’re trying to connect to the Internet for the first time, and you have information about connecting in America, through a Service Provider based in the US. That’s fine if you’re in the US but could be confusing if you’re in England with its different phone system and Internet Service providers. Similarly if you have websites about booking train tickets or shopping or so on, check they’re in the right country or you might have some odd problems!


A lot of people are nervous when they first start learning to use a PC. It’s not surprising when you’re starting something new. But don’t let that stop you experimenting. If you’re not sure how to do something, try a few different ways that might work. If you’re not sure where an option is in a program, hunt through the menus. And if you’re not sure what something does, just try it — though it’s best to save any important work first! In fact saving your work often (and backing it up to floppy disk, zip disk or writable CD) is a good idea if you have anything important on your PC. Also, installing Antivirus software will protect you from malicious programs that you may accidently load while using your computer.


Don’t worry about trying to learn everything. I don’t think there’s a single person in the world who could say they know it all about PCs. Even without buying any extra software, just in Windows, there is a huge amount you could learn. Add in extra software you can buy and the internet and it’s practically infinite. Just learn the basics, then pick what you want to be able to do and learn that.


And most important, while you’re doing it, have fun!


Tim Wakeling is the Author of Computers One Step at a Time, a home course using plenty of pictures of the screen to show you how to use your PC. He also writes a free monthly newsletter about computers for non-experts. Find out about both at http://www.osaat.co.uk © Tim Wakeling, UK 2005.



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