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November-December, 2002 VOLUME 1, NUMBER 6

FEATURE ARTICLE

This winter Eva Brown of the CAER Information Services Department smoothed out the relationship of man and computer. She did this by coordinating and implementing the CAER On-site Computer Training facility, offering a series of self-paced computer courses entitled "Meet the Personal Computer."

The idea was born out of a conversation with a co-worker who praised the training he received through UK Human Resources' Operation Educate (OE) program on campus. Eva found that the program was great for those on campus, but had its draw-backs for CAER staff. The 16-mile round-trip commute to UK's campus required time away from work, and campus parking problems quickly overshadowed employees' desires to seek training. Therefore the need arose to provide a way to advance technical skills without leaving work, while being compatible to employees' work schedules. This course was designed to address the fact that most workplaces are computer-oriented and require employees to have minimal computer skills to do their job.

The idea to partner in implementing the first O.E. Off-campus/On-site training facility was enthusiastically received by Nawaal Hadi, Director of Operation Educate and the CAER Administrative Directors. Employees were polled to identify the 6 registrants required by Operation Educate for an on-site class. Surprisingly 16 staff members registered, requiring two class sessions per day on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Space was identified and work began in earnest to implement the training facility. Eva worked with facilities and networking services personnel and soon a fully functional classroom emerged with eight salvaged surplus computers, two printers, network hubs, chairs, desks, and a dry-erase board.

James Leary of Operation Educate and Eva began as instructors last October, with classes eventually being turned over to Eva who served as the site-coordinator. Enrollment and weekly documentation and status reports are supplied to OE.

The purpose of the course is to offer hands-on, self paced training presented in four components:

  • Basic mouse skills
  • PC components
  • files and folders
  • Windows Explorer

From there, the classes progress through intermediate-level document editing in Microsoft Word and Excel, followed by a segment on Internet use.

Students work through a series of 32 classroom exercises with the help of the instructor, and receive a certificate after completion of the first two class components. A plaque is awarded by UK Human Resources to those who complete the entire training series. This is a perfect way for those with little or no computer experience to "get their feet wet" before progressing to a more traditional computer classroom environment. The classes require an average of 8 weeks to complete, giving the student 16-20 hours of computer experience before moving on to other computer training courses.

The class offers instruction in a relaxed atmosphere with attendees working at their own pace with one-on-one instructor assistance that removes the intimidation of having to keep up with the class. "It's great to hear someone working at their computer say, 'So that's how you do that,'" says Eva.

Class attendees and other staff members are excited about having additional courses offered for other computer applications that will assist them with their job duties. Eva realizes the on-going need to assist staff members to develop and enhance their computer skills. She, and the other members of the Information Services Group, are continually seeking ways to enhance services by providing computer support to all levels of staff at CAER.