Eight tips to get up to speed with computer technology
I wrote my first freelance story for the Oregonian in 1987 on an IBM Wheelwriter, one of the first home word processors. I continue to be challenged on a daily basis by the technological expertise of my younger co-workers.
If you are like me and are still wet behind the ears when it comes to computer literacy, it’s not too late to catch up. And catch up, we must.
According to a 2008 study by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, 96 percent of workers use new communication technology. These days, we all must aspire to be computer literate or get left behind – and unemployable. Computers are everywhere from the car mechanic’s shop to the hospital, the bank, and the grocery store. Heck, I can’t even reserve a space in my Zumba class without doing it on Facebook.
Here are a few ideas for building your computer skills, whether you live in rural Josephine County or urban Multnomah County. They are all free unless otherwise indicated.
- Most county library systems offer free computer classes. Class schedules can be found at your local library or viewed online on library websites.
- Learning Library Express is a statewide program in Oregon that provides tutorials on several topics, including computer literacy. All you need is a library card from any public, school, college, university or tribal library, and an Internet-enabled computer to access the tutorials. They are available 24 hours a day.
- Many of Oregon’s WorkSource Centers (formerly known as the Oregon Employment Department) offer computer classes to job seekers, either on site or through their partnerships with community colleges. Visit your local WorkSource office – there are close to 50 throughout the state – to find out how to register.
- The Goodwill Community Foundation offers multiple online tutorials. Go to http://www.gcflearnfree.org/ where you can learn Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Internet Basics. You can even take an online class in Facebook 101 and Google docs. The foundation has over 750 free lessons and 250 videos. If you don’t have your own computer, get a library card and use a library computer.
- Many senior centers and county aging and disability service agencies offer one-on-one computer support and/or computer classes. Check your area agency for more information.
- The Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, with area offices throughout Oregon and Washington, may be able to provide funding for computer classes for disabled individuals. Check with your local office or vocational rehabilitation counselor.
- The Margaret Carter Skill Center at the Cascade Campus of Portland Community College offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity to amp up your computer literacy. Here’s what makes it such a great opportunity: It’s affordable. The training runs a full 12 weeks. The instructors are highly skilled. Because this is a state-funded program, students only pay for PCC’s activity fees, which run less than $30. Compared to other college computer classes, this is a bargain. For anyone interested in getting more information, call 971-722-5450 or plan to attend an orientation. Orientations are held each Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. at the Margaret Carter Skill Center Building.
- Central City Concern’s Employment Access Center, whose mission is to guide people with barriers to employment and self-sufficiency, has computer classes as part of a participant’s comprehensive goal-setting plan. Specialized programs address the particular needs of homeless veterans. Check out our February post about this program.
Computer instruction is a first step. If you are currently out of work, consider volunteering so that you can practice your new skills. With a slow return to the pre-Recession hiring patterns and many businesses under-staffed, whatever computer skills you can offer will be appreciated. Down the road, your volunteer work could be a life changer.
New ways to use technology appear daily. Keeping up feels a lot like being that hamster in the wheel, at least for me. But, thanks to the kinds of classes in this post and the shared knowledge of co-workers, the goal of meeting the usual day-to-day challenges of the high-tech office environment is within reach.
Promote your program
"We have been getting a lot of participants for our financial education through 211, so thanks for helping us spread the word- you guys are a great resource!"
- Talia Kahn-Kravis, Program Coordinator, Innovative Changes
Comment spammers continue to attack the 211info blog. We have disabled comments until the issue can be fixed. Please email 'matt at 211info.org' with comments or inquiries. We apologize for the inconvenience.
- May 2013 (18)
- April 2013 (21)
- March 2013 (35)
- February 2013 (38)
- January 2013 (45)
- December 2012 (27)
- November 2012 (49)
- October 2012 (57)
- September 2012 (31)
- August 2012 (35)
- July 2012 (20)
- June 2012 (19)
- May 2012 (20)
- April 2012 (6)
- March 2012 (12)
- February 2012 (15)
- January 2012 (6)
- December 2011 (10)
- November 2011 (25)
- October 2011 (10)
- September 2011 (29)
- August 2011 (25)
- July 2011 (31)
- June 2011 (11)
- May 2011 (32)
- April 2011 (21)
- March 2011 (9)
- February 2011 (6)
- January 2011 (8)
- December 2010 (11)
- November 2010 (8)
- October 2010 (2)
- September 2010 (3)
- July 2010 (4)
- June 2010 (6)
- May 2010 (5)
- April 2010 (5)
- March 2010 (6)
- Top 7 upcoming social and community service events in Oregon
- 1 in 6 homeless Americans are Veterans, but you can change that [Oregon]
- How a local program will play a staring role if immigration reforms pass [Portland metro]
- Hurry! Earn up to $100 plus free x-rays and a teeth cleaning [Portland Metro]
- The top 12 community events you won't want to miss in Oregon