[Hpn] Mentors teach basic computer skills

Morgan W. Brown norsehorse@hotmail.com
Fri, 28 Sep 2001 10:49:47 -0400

Below is a forward of an article which reports on a unique way one local 
Vermont community chose to respond to help address a need some members of 
the community had, through a program which was developed concerning a 
favorite subject of mine. Following the forwarded article is a link to the 
Web page for the entity which hosts the program.

Following that, are links to a three part series which I wrote about the 
Internet, computers, many needs which some members of any given community 
may have and, the need for mentoring programs to teach basic computer and 
Internet skills at various levels.

Morgan <norsehorse@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont


-------Forwarded article-------

Friday, September 28, 2001
Burlington Free Press <http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com>
Local News section
Mentors teach basic computer skills

By Lindsay O'Neil

Pat Lilienthal knew nothing about computers or surfing the Net until last 

"I didn't know how to turn a computer on, literally," she said. "I wanted to 
learn, but on a one-on-one basis in a way that wasn't going to be very 

So, Lilienthal enrolled in the Computer Mentoring Program, at the South 
Burlington Community Library, where she received free, one-on-one weekly 
lessons with a highly skilled teacher: a teen-ager.

In the program, adults who want to learn basic computer and Internet skills 
are paired with technology-savvy South Burlington High School student 
volunteers, said Claire Buckley, high school librarian and program 

"A lot of older people would like to use computers, but we're hesitant to 
get started. And, everyone says that kids are great on computers because 
they use them all the time," she said. "It seemed like a logical tie-in to 
ask high school students if they would mentor adults in learning how to use 
a computer."

Last year -- the program was started in April -- about 25 adults 
participated. This year, about six adults have signed up. About a dozen 
students mentors will teach.

People enroll in the program to learn a variety of things, including how to 
use the Internet, e-mail and word processing, Buckley said.

"Sometimes, they just need a few questions answered and so they'll come in 
for a session or two. Sometimes they'll choose to come once a week for the 
duration of the school year," she said.

Last spring, Lilienthal learned how to sign up for an
e-mail account, how to copy documents and how to use an Internet search 
engine. Now, she's hoping to find out about word processing and how to save 
files to her hard drive.

"And I want to learn about CD-roms and floppy disks," said Lilienthal, 50, a 
South Burlington resident.

Don Crofut, 70, enrolled in the program to become more knowledgeable about 
general computer applications.

"Right now, I'm learning about making spread sheets," said Crofut, who lives 
in South Burlington. "I keep track of some financial rec- ords for an 
organization. If I can, I'd like to do it on a PC."

Adults make for enthusiastic students, said Mike Bailey, 17, a computer 

"At first, I was afraid that I'd be flooding them with information. But 
they'd always come in with questions, wanting to learn. We'd go over stuff, 
and then they'd go home and try it out for themselves. They were good about 
doing their homework," he said. "They definitely made me feel like a 

The program illustrates the importance of lifetime learning, said Kim 
Nielson, 16, a student mentor.

"The adults coming in are excited about learning and the expression on their 
faces when they find out how to do something is priceless," she said. "One 
woman was so thrilled when she was able to get into the Internet and see a 
picture of her grandson. Other people are so excited to be able to e-mail 
their friends and family."

The "mentors" get just as much out of the program as their "mentees," 
Buckley said.

"This activity is just as good for the students as it is for the adults," 
she said. "Usually, teen-agers are the ones being taught. Here, they get to 
experience teaching someone something. This gives them a chance to connect 
with adults on a new level."

---End of forwarded article---

~~~Related Web site -- FYI:

South Burlington Community Library:


-- "The South Burlington Community Library is a combined library which 
serves as both the high school library and the public library for the city 
of South Burlington.  It is located in the north wing of the high school 
building [ ... ]."


~~~Published columns about the Internet, computers and mentoring programs -- 

* Net-Working: Revolutionizing What it Means to be Connected:


-- Column by Morgan W. Brown: The Independent: A Vermont publication for 
elders and people with disabilities; Summer 2000 (Vol 9, no. 3); [Part one 
of a three part series]

* Wandering the Internet: Turning Online Experiences Into Journeys of 
Personal Discovery:


-- Column by Morgan W. Brown: The Independent: A Vermont publication for 
elders and people with disabilities; October 2000 (Vol 9, no. 4); [Part two 
of a three part series]

* Tooling the Web: Using the Internet to get there from here:

-- Column by Morgan W. Brown; The Independent: A Vermont publication for 
elders and people with disabilities; December 2000 (Vol. 9, No. 5), Winter 
Edition; Pages 19 & 20; [Part three of a three part series]


**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this
material is distributed without charge or profit to
those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving
this type of information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only.**


-------End of forward-------

Morgan <norsehorse@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA

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