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What Should a Community Computer Lab Offer?

Cliff posted about 11 years ago | from the improving-the-neighborhood-through-technology dept.

Businesses 383

Ballresin asks: "A local computer company is expanding and including a computer lab in their setup, and they want me to come in as its Administrator. I am supposed to be giving them input on what to teach/host. What does Slashdot think a medium sized tourist town (Okoboji, Spirit Lake, Arnolds Park, Iowa) should have to offer to the locals? I was thinking something along the lines of 'How to Use Windows 101' and 'How to Use Office 101'. My compatriots want to offer some off-the-wall classes such as 'Hacker Ethics: Why and How' and a few other odd classes. I have polled people in the area, which resulted the discovery that 80% of them are from out of town, so don't really care. What you guys think; What kind of classes or what games/LAN party setups should a new, small business offer? Any ideas/input is greatly appreciated."

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it should offer (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6574951)

computers! with linux! to get first post on!

Re:it should offer (1)

H3g3m0n (642800) | about 11 years ago | (#6574993)

Too bad you posted it as Anonymous =P

Re:it should offer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6575005)

why would i wan't to litter trashdot and have my name attached to it?

Well, just consider its impact on free IP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6575037)

Just think of what this will do to the whole RIAA/MPAA thing. They for sure will not like it. For once, we got something that will fight the DCMA at will.

Hope it does what its supposed to do.

Re:Well, just consider its impact on free IP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6575081)

dude, i think you are posting in your sleep again. what you said has nothing to do with anything on the something we are talking about.

You need to re-think your statements over. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6575218)

you really do.

Re:Well, just consider its impact on free IP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6575196)

Agreed, but the DMCA does not *explicitly* state that "such and such" activities are to be banned. It in itself is not a manisfestation of what went on the past decade. If you think that you are right, you must accept this.

Anyways, you are right. The sad part is, it just will not take place.

fp, sucka (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6574957)

can't believe I got one.

Re:fp, sucka (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6575040)

don't beleive it sucka, you didn't get it. I DID! move along and keep trying.

you fail it and i fail to fail it.

How to find pr0n 101 (3, Funny)

Hogwash McFly (678207) | about 11 years ago | (#6574959)

No explanation needed....

Worst Sig Ever! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6575099)


Re:How to find pr0n 101 (5, Insightful)

darkscorp (194918) | about 11 years ago | (#6575114)

In this same vein...
How to conduct meaningful web searches period.
People often waste too much time trying to track down useful/pertinent information on the web.

Re:How to find pr0n 101 (3, Funny)

Kalren (152196) | about 11 years ago | (#6575160)

...and how to hide it...

Re:How to find pr0n 101 (3, Interesting)

EvilSporkMan (648878) | about 11 years ago | (#6575275)

OBVIOUSLY it should be hidden in an innocuous-looking folder called "stuff". Hidding this folder is a huge help, too, You know, C:\games\stuff, ~/.stuff, C:\My Documents\stuff, whatever.

3rd (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6574966)

post to scare of GNU Hippies and Linux zealots.

Nice ideas, but... (1, Redundant)

killermal (545771) | about 11 years ago | (#6574967)

The most effective way to get porno on the internet. Heck, you might as well teach people something they want to know.

well for starters (3, Insightful)

egoff (636181) | about 11 years ago | (#6574980)

How many tourists (80% out of towners) are going to take a Windows 101 class on vacation?

Re:well for starters (2, Insightful)

azadism (578262) | about 11 years ago | (#6575001)

There should be Linux 101 class to go along with the Windows. Or even better, a class showing the transition from Windows to Linux

Re:well for starters (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6575200)

There should be a Pig Fucking 101 class to go along with the Ass Privateering. Or even better, a class showing the transition from Pig Fucker to Ass Privateer.

Re:well for starters (1, Flamebait)

buffer-overflowed (588867) | about 11 years ago | (#6575215)

But no one uses linux, so why teach it?

And why not Mac 101, huh? At least it has lickable buttons.

Policy (2, Insightful)

claydean (230881) | about 11 years ago | (#6574983)

I know that the post asked about courses, but I would have some good policies setup if you allow public internet use.

Iowa... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6574996)

You could start with a class on the modern marvel of science called electricity and it's uses in daily life.

Moron... (2, Interesting)

acoustix (123925) | about 11 years ago | (#6575277)

Maybe you should do some research about Iowa. The 1st state to have an all optic fiber state network. Iowa set the trend for other states to follow.

a good class (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6574998)

how to deal with tourists

how about (0, Offtopic)

B3ryllium (571199) | about 11 years ago | (#6574999)

Puzzle Pirates [] Beta.

Prerequisites. (4, Funny)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | about 11 years ago | (#6575002)

I would set up a system of prerequisites, like they have in colleges or something, where the one main prerequisite to everything else is Computers 101: Assembly Programming with the Zilog z80 Microprocessor. After that, you can teach them how to use Windows XP; you know, things like how to move a mouse cursor, how to minimize and maximize windows on the display, etc.

applied v. theoretical (5, Insightful)

neye_eve (212185) | about 11 years ago | (#6575004)

You can get to theoretical stuff eventually as you guage community interest and expertise distribution. But the practical classes are the ones grandma and junior will find the most helpful. You'll get more potential teachers and students that way, and it will be easy to pass off the classes to other people if necessary.

Give them meaningful titles though. Don't title it "Excel 101". Title it "Using spreadsheets to make your life easier". People will come to classes in order to do things better, not to learn a specific app (well, most people at least). In the description, say "this uses iMovie, and we'll touch on moviemaker", but for the title, something like "making home movies that last forever".

good luck with your project!

Re:applied v. theoretical (1)

connsmythe96 (576445) | about 11 years ago | (#6575188)

Also, I think you should do "How to use a desktop" or "how to use a spreadsheet" or "how to use an office suite". Not "how to use windows" and "how to use excel" and "how to use microsoft office". Teaching people one specific OS or one specific program is bad, not only because they won't know how to use other OSes or programs, but because later on microsoft might change that program. What happens when you teach someone "click this button" and later on the button disappears and it's a menu now? You need to teach them what that button is called, what it does, and why they're clicking it. That way, later on if they're using another program or another version of the same program they know what to look for. That's a LOT more useful.

Re:applied v. theoretical (1)

Jon Abbott (723) | about 11 years ago | (#6575251)

You can also have classes like "Excel Basic" and an "Excel Advanced", which would be pretty effective in sorting out people based on experience levels.

Web and EMail is where it's at (5, Informative)

kwerle (39371) | about 11 years ago | (#6575006)

There's just 2 things that most users will want - the same 2 that made the internet what it is today:

Email do's and don'ts would be good - including handling of spam and crap (the junk your father-in-law sends you that is either urban legend, or ancient, or both).

Web browsing, security (don't tell folks your passwords), and virii are all important things to know about.

WEPOS (3, Funny)

rowanxmas (569908) | about 11 years ago | (#6575102)

So back in the day my roomates and I designed an Operating System for the 21st Century, it was called: WEPOS.

WEPOS is the Warcraft, E-Mail, Porn Operating System.

I think that an off-the-shelf WEPOS system should facilitate all needs of the locals.

Re:WEPOS (2, Funny)

sys$manager (25156) | about 11 years ago | (#6575181)

In Korea they would need SEPOS, or alternately titled KEKEKEOS.

Re:Web and EMail is where it's at (3, Funny)

Dark Paladin (116525) | about 11 years ago | (#6575156)

And teach people HOW NOT TO SHOUT.

I'd include more, but the LAMENESS FILTER piped up.

Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6575233)

There's just 2 things that most users will want:

email and p0rn

Is this company public? (1, Insightful)

sys$manager (25156) | about 11 years ago | (#6575007)

Because if it is, I want to short.

Games (0)

terraveneficus (693307) | about 11 years ago | (#6575011)

well you should probably have a title or two from each category UT 2003 Diablo 2 Warcraft 3 AOE that kinda stuff and depending on the equipment Half-Life 2

How to get and use Free Software. (4, Insightful)

Sans_A_Cause (446229) | about 11 years ago | (#6575012)

Most people, especially in small communities, probably don't realize that they don't have to buy M$ Windows to do 90% of what they want to do (e-mail, surf the web, download pr0n). The other things like "Windows 101" they could get at the library or various adult education centers.

Re:How to get and use Free Software. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6575096)

That's it exactly! Especially the downloading pr0n part.

Re:How to get and use Free Software. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6575180)

Most people, especially in small communities where they're taking basic computer classes, probably would have nowhere near the competence to run Linux.

If you don't know what Linux is, you don't want to run it.

Re:How to get and use Free Software. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6575241)

Don't be a dick. Most people, period, don't know what Linux is. No need to single out small communities.

Don't let users install software (3, Informative)

egg troll (515396) | about 11 years ago | (#6575014)

Not really an idea for a course, per se, but I wouldn't let users install any software onto PCs [] . Good luck!

MMORPG & Internet shopping and email classes (1)

willy134 (682318) | about 11 years ago | (#6575015)

I have seen several companies that offer MMORPG time at a cost. It seemed quite reasonable since you pay for what you use not the nasty monthly payment.

As far as classes, email would be great for a small touristy town. Everyone should be able to stop by and say hello to a friend. Also I think there are many opportunities for shopping on line. Teach them everything from amazon to ebay.

Good luck

101 (4, Informative)

Hermione Kestrel (690696) | about 11 years ago | (#6575026)

Whatever you do, don't name your subjects "blah blah 101" the 101 just makes you look like a tosser. Everyone knows its not a university :P

I'd suggest.. (2, Funny)

sekzscripting (687192) | about 11 years ago | (#6575028)

'Finding Information 101' -- GOOGLE. There are too many people that still haven't figured out how to use Google.

Our community lab... (5, Informative)

nhaze (684461) | about 11 years ago | (#6575029)

We offer our locals a variety of courses and are always taking suggestions. When an interesting idea is submitted we usually set up a sign-up sheet and post a notice in the paper to test the interest levels. Our regular classes include:
Building a Webpage
Intro. to Windows
Intro to Macs
Office 101
Using E-Mail
Finances and Bills with Your Computer
An Introduction to Digital Photography

And depending on your community...We have a lot of immigrants in ours and we offer a lot of computer-based ESL programs/courses
Good Luck!

Re:Our community lab... (1)

wideBlueSkies (618979) | about 11 years ago | (#6575159)

>>Intro. to Windows
>>Intro to Macs

Of course there should also be Intro to LINUX or intro to Lindows.


Hate to reply to a question with a question. (3, Insightful)

JUSTONEMORELATTE (584508) | about 11 years ago | (#6575034)

But before you decide what to do with the lab, you've got to know why the computer shop wants to open one. If it's to drive up sales by pushing the shop's good directly, then tailor classes towards Making The Most Of The SB-Live! Audigy Card.
If it's to be an uber-cyber-cafe and hope that business picks up based on your civic contribution, then teach Using The Internet For Research and Homework Help, or maybe How To Install Filtering Software To Keep The Kids From Porn.
Whatever it is, it's got to jive with your employer's reason for doin' it!


Suggestions (0)

ender81b (520454) | about 11 years ago | (#6575038)

Some suggestion, I work as a manager at a local university computer lab. Firs tthing is pick yourself up a copy of norton ghost. Second thing is buy licenses for Deep Freeze [] the best program ever as far as i'm concerend. Don't have to worry about people messing with settings and even allows them to install their own programs. I really, really, really love that program - it makes my job 10x easier.

Also, don't go with dell or gateway as your computer manufactures. Get somebody who specializes in corporate support, like Omnitech [] , they offer a 5 year warranty, online RMA's and no hassle returns of defective equipment as well as a parts closet. We are very happy with them

Re:Suggestions (1) (664381) | about 11 years ago | (#6575240)

our school uses deepfreeze . While I must say that it saves a lot of time reimaging (we also use norton ghost) ; its not fool proof . Make sure in the bios to disable booting of floppy & cd and then set a bios adminstrator password .(Of course if you are a my school , dont ; I like running linux :-)

Re:Suggestions (1)

Smallpond (221300) | about 11 years ago | (#6575245)

My son explained to me how they bypassed Deep Freeze at their high school computer lab to install the software that they wanted. I think they did it on the second day of class.

Anyway, I think you'll run into various levels of experience just because there's nothing else out there for the interested computer user, short of college courses. You need to get the novices up to speed on buzzwords, like what is an "Operating System" but also give the somewhat experienced people something interesting to learn, like "here's Perl".

How to use the internet? (1, Redundant)

el-spectre (668104) | about 11 years ago | (#6575041)

Maybe a basic, semi-techy discussion of how the internet works, so that the users can protect themselves.

They don't need to know how to configure a DNS server, but understanding basic concepts like cookies, HTTPS (and when it is safe to use your credit card), SPAM, etc. could be very useful for Joe User.

Also, creating some kind of list of common acronyms & buzzwords would be helpful to the same folks. When I say that to 'connect you Win2K box to the ISP with a CAT-5 cable w/PCMCIA NIC', I might as well be speaking martian to some folks.

Re:How to use the internet? (1)

WTFmonkey (652603) | about 11 years ago | (#6575249)

Do you guys say "Pee see em see eye aye" or "pecumsiuh"? I've heard both, just curious.

Tell them about prohosters (-1)

jinglecat (673072) | about 11 years ago | (#6575044)

Teach them how to run their own controversial website hosted by Prohosters

... are all run on that service. Great service to boot.

Offer basic Self-defense (2, Interesting)

OPAlex (600011) | about 11 years ago | (#6575049)

How about offering a class on computer self-defense? How to set-up a firewall, the importance of keeping your favorite anti-virus up to date, how to document your browser and e-mail client settings, for instance. As for frills - how about an introduction to eBay - might as well let them earn while they learn :)

some suggestions (5, Insightful)

Tumbleweed (3706) | about 11 years ago | (#6575054)

If you're thinking of Windows 101 and Office 101, then I'd suggest Internet 101, and go over email, browser basics, Usenet, FTP, etc. It's remarkable to me how so many people think the Web, email, and IM make up the entirety of the Internet.

A more advanced class on WWW usage would be good - teach people how to use search engines effectively, etc. That would be a short one-day thing that a lot of people could get a great deal of benefit from.

Another good idea would be 'Privacy & Security 101'. Teach people about software firewalls and hardware NAT routers, how to keep their privacy on the internet, and how to avoid spam, etc. Definitely a lot of value there.

Perhaps something about how to use digital cameras with photoshop to do photo editing / printing. And maybe another one for an intro to video editing. Lots of people take pictures & home movies. It'd be good to show them how to get that stuff off their cameras and onto CD-Rs and DVD+/-R(/W)s.

Basic home repair & upgrades, though that may cut into your business. :)
How to set up a (wireless?) home network, perhaps?
Connecting your TiVo to your home network.
Intro to Linux & the BSDs.

well, first off... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6575055)

It should offer free ice cream to everybody. Along with free health care, spas, the finest french roast coffee, plus plenty of nutricious organicly grown vegetables for the kids to snack on. Furthermore, there should be a room devoted to the expression of African American culture along with an adjacent women's resource center. There should be no smoking allowed, nor any cigarette vending machines. Computers? Purely optional.

Wireless internet (3, Interesting)

SixDimensionalArray (604334) | about 11 years ago | (#6575057)

Considering that it sounds like a small town which probably doesn't have a lot of connectivity, teaching people how to set up or connect to a wireless network would be a great idea. That way, the city's inhabitants could share any connectivity (even between neighbors) it gets very efficiently and happily. Wireless also makes the tourists happy and might make them want to vacation there more!

This of course, presupposes courses on Microsoft 101 and the Internet 101.

Don't forget Linux 101 for those who like a challenge! ;)


By far the most useful (1)

jeroenb (125404) | about 11 years ago | (#6575058)

would be to teach them about how to effectively use the Internet and all the different stuff that's on it. I mean, Office is basically something home users don't really use anyway and the OS itself is preinstalled or should come with support for configuring it.

The interesting thing is: once you have everything set up and want to do something, where to begin? So teach them about Google, how to effectively use it. Tell them about keeping an additional yahoo/hotmail-account to avoid a lot of spam in their personal inboxes. Show them how instant messaging works, what the different networks are and how to set up these clients so they won't get spammed and have some privacy. Tell them about cool VoIP software to chat with relatives on the other side of the country. Explain how to check whether a site has SSL when using your creditcard to buy stuff.

It's all so basic for most of us, but invaluable for the casual user - it'll really make them have fun using the Internet instead of hanging around on portals like AOL and MSN and not getting anywhere.

how to get movies, music, and software... (1)

cloudkj (685320) | about 11 years ago | (#6575059)

... for free. ...without being SUED! Seriously.

Tourists, Photos, Libraries (2, Interesting)

jeffg (2966) | about 11 years ago | (#6575061)

Tourist town, you say? You will make them happy by providing every digital media reader known to man, and the means to burn and e-mail the photos back home. They can burn a CD full of photos and empty their camera, and they can e-mail a few photos home to family/friends. This, in addition to "the usual" public kiosks that aren't annoyingly locked down, printing services, internet access for people with laptops, etc.

Also, get in touch with your local public library/libraries. See if they have a computer lab. See what they offer. Look into working together, if only from the standpoint of "oh, we don't offer that service, but they do". If you can refer people to each other, you will both benefit.

Linux Terminal Server Project (3, Interesting)

Jonah Hex (651948) | about 11 years ago | (#6575063)

I'd definately focus at least half the machines towards basic Internet access, and would probably prefer using old junker (donated?) machines and Linux Terminal Server Project [] to host it. The other half should be quite a bit more powerful to run games and an "Office" suite. Quite a bit depends on what your target audience is, which currently seems vaguely defined.

Jonah Hex

Free software and cheap gaming (1)

preric (689159) | about 11 years ago | (#6575076)

Since it sounds like it will be a Windows enviroment, I would customize each computer with 'mildly advanced' programs that they could probably use everyday. For example, AVG for antivirus, Sygate for firewall, Open Office, Opera, a popup stopper, AdAware etc etc etc. And for (cheap) good times, go out and buy a dozen copies of Half Life, and then patch/upgrade it with the latest popular mod's (counter-strike, day of defeat, team fortress etc) for maximum bang for the buck.

Most important thing is ... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6575079)

they should have a good, usable OS, like Windows XP (R), not some unstable, insecure Open Source solution.

Re:Most important thing is ... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6575115)

yeah, linxu sux0rz!

Re:Most important thing is ... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6575138)

Good to see that not all Slasdot reader are dumb., stupit, unintilligant fagorts.

many options (1)

matchboy (519044) | about 11 years ago | (#6575083)

Keep your costs low and setup machines with Knoppix (cd based linux)...and show people how simple the world wide web can be without AOL. my 2cents

OpenOffice (5, Insightful)

Un pobre guey (593801) | about 11 years ago | (#6575085)

Teach OpenOffice [] and distribute CDs of it. Burn CDs with the Windows, GNU/Linux, and Mac versions, and give each student three disks so that they give a couple away to friends.

Free. Gratis. Libre.

Software y Libertad!

La computadora es de quien la trabaja!

Re:OpenOffice (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6575155)

hehe, u r teh ghey mon! spanish whores are hot but teyh smell bad. btw.

Re:OpenOffice (1)

HomerNet (146137) | about 11 years ago | (#6575255)

Why three disks? The binaries plus source code are small enough to fit *6* copies on one CD.

Hey, looky there, another selling point for OpenOffice, it's tiny!

Not the right place to ask (5, Interesting)

stonecypher (118140) | about 11 years ago | (#6575092)

By definition, SlashDotters are here because they're deeper into the community, the practices, and either the hobby or profession (for many, both) of computing.

We are going to have no idea whatsoever what Joe Average will want from a set of computer classes. Hey, we don't even know if you're dealing with residents, which won't want the same classes every year, or transients, which will want brief and to the point classes.

I suggest you take all the ideas that SlashDot comes up with, cull at least half of them, put them in a list, and put that list up in the business. Print it on flyers with five or so entries. Ask people to check which ones they would be interested in - maybe let them say sorta interested or very interested - and allow them to write in suggestions. Given that they'll be looking at other things of scale, they'll be able to input what's germane to them.

When you're writing down what you'd present, don't just come up with a topic and go. Think about it: what would Office 101 be? It's not going to be enough time to cover the whole suite. Some people will want document layout and setup in Word, like it was a publisher; some will want Excel and Access, for their small business (maybe tax stuff too.) Some will want to learn how to use Outlook, or Exchange, so that they can function in their corporate environment. Some will want to learn to make PowerPoint presentations.

You've got to remember that most people do not learn computer topics at the rate of a slashdotter. This isn't because they're dumb, or clueless, or any other such geek slander; it's because they have less context to bind to. I'm not stupid, but a mechanic is gonna pick up the specifics of fixing a foreign car way, way faster than I will, even though I likely have a better grasp of the underlying physics. You're going to need to allow a lot of time for basic cluestickery.

Maybe, here's a thought. Every month or so, offer a 101 course on one Office suite app. See how it goes, and have a second one prepared. If it goes well, do your second one while you prepare a sequel to the first.

Above all, don't get stuck in plans. The people that show up won't always be the same ones and they won't always want the same things. Some things (word) you'll be able to repeat. Prepare occasional side-tracks into the weird for geeks if you find them; if you don't, get ready to explain MS Project.

Basically, it's all about your audience, and we aren't your audience. What you get here is nothing better than a starting point.

Classes to offer (1)

Urkki (668283) | about 11 years ago | (#6575094)

How to get game patches and driver updates after buying a new game.
How to rip CDs, and make MP3 CDs/DVDs.
How and when to re-install Windows.
How to use Openoffice.
How to keep computer secure: using virus scanners and personal firewalls, and not being stupid.

Cater to the travelers (1)

Brento (26177) | about 11 years ago | (#6575106)

If people really are blowing through town all the time, then I'd suggest you target your services at them.

Advertise at the local hotels. At least once per month, drop off fliers with a listing of the services your lab offers and the class schedule. Most small town hotels have truly horrible business centers with one or two outdated PC's with no dialup access. Travelers love finding places to surf.

Have traveler-starter classes, such as how to check your home email account from anywhere, how to research flights online, how to get weather, etc.

And above all, ask people. You're on the right track by asking around - now ask the hotel people to find out what their guests want.

Ditch the hard drive altogether. (1)

angrytuna (599871) | about 11 years ago | (#6575107)

Personally, I think your situation is custom made for a Lindows [] box. Avoid having to use ghost at all.

Isn't it obvious?!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6575110)

It should offer pr0n, warez, and mp3z!! And lots of 'em!!!

Crazy Ideas (2, Insightful)

neuraljazz (307431) | about 11 years ago | (#6575111)

First - assess age and experience. If very low, basics such as using the mouse and what is the internet. Introduce email and chatting to them.
Second - assess local business needs: spreadsheets and document writing. Basic desktop publishing. Also, give out certificates so people can take classes and have something to add to resumes.
Third - student and school needs. More than likely you have student classes needing access to computers. These range from low to high, but I'd start out w/ computer basic and hit the Gifted and Talented teachers to give you some nerds to work with linux and open source.
Fourth - Ecommerce classes: yeah, that's so five years ago, but you're not in San Francisco so maybe the dot-com is about happen there. Explain that a good website can boost mail order sales and supplement income for niche markets, primarily small vendors/manufacturers.
Fifth - programming courses. All this net stuff don't mean jack without programmers. Download perl and get people started with scripting - then build from there.
Invite members of the community to teach your courses (as long as they have a lesson plan), and if there's a local geneologist and/or historian, invite them in to teach about the local history.

You need to be unique (1)

Alereon (660683) | about 11 years ago | (#6575121)

Quite frankly, the market for total newbie classes is rather frustrated. Most people who would want to learn the very basics have already done so. You have to offer unique choices if you want to appeal to a broad audience. How about "How not to get screwed online"? Teach people about spyware, trojans, the-nice-nigerian-man-really-doesn't-want-to-make- you-rich, etc. Things that have practical value to the average newbie who ALREADY has a working knowledge of AOL, windows, and office. The Hacker Ethics class and other ideas are good, and you should implement some to appeal to a wider audience beyond just newbies, which is going to be important.

Just remember, you have to get as many people interested and coming to class as possible. Trying to be a LAN party store is not going to work, as similar businesses in my home town discovered, for the simple reason that the kind of person that appeals to ALREADY has a capable computer and has no compunctions about bringing it to his friend's house and hooking it up to a network so he can play Counter-Strike. You're starting an uphill battle.

Gates Foundation Classes (3, Interesting)

Eberlin (570874) | about 11 years ago | (#6575122)

Intro to the PC, Internet I, Searching the Web, E-mail (free web-based), [MS Office stuff], Creating Web Pages.

At least that's part of what we offer at the local library (grant from Gates Learning Foundation)

For our demographic, we keep things simple. You figure people who frequent a computer lab don't have a machine at home with internet we gear towards the basic stuff.

I'd have loved to do more OSS stuff like maybe some Linux or (again, the demographic...let them know they don't have to shell serious $$ to get decent apps) -- and if at all possible (unlike here) show them Mozilla and compare it to IE.

Any chance to let people know of the "alternatives" should be taken.

"how to use this, how to use that" (3, Insightful)

AndyChrist (161262) | about 11 years ago | (#6575131)

That's great if you want job security, I guess. It'd be nice if there was a course that could teach people how to apply what they learn about one program to another, even if it doesn't do the same things. For example, that the "print" menus are almost always under "file" or that "properties" are usually to be found in "file" or "edit." Simple things like that that will make them actually functional when they are faced with something novel.

I suppose that's really placing too much of a demand on the students rather than too much on the teachers, though. Sigh...

(Worked in computer labs for 2 years...has stories)

Photography (2, Insightful)

r_j_prahad (309298) | about 11 years ago | (#6575142)

Out of town? Tourists or snowbirds? You mean your typical camera toting crowd? Teach them digital photography, a few types of image compression, and the best ways to e-mail photos to the family back home. And throw in a little Gimp/Photoshop to show how to remove the wrinkles from their faces, brighten the Oregon skies, and in general make the stay-at-homes jealous. I'll be happy to sell them the cameras....

Is this a paid gig? (1)

tarquin_fim_bim (649994) | about 11 years ago | (#6575151)

"they want me to come in as its Administrator. I am supposed to be giving them input on what to teach/host."

If so did you falsely claim that you were an imaginative innovator and thermometer of pubic opinion on your resume?

Re:Is this a paid gig? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6575272)

MOD PARENT UP, friggin' hilarious.

Beer (1)

supe (163410) | about 11 years ago | (#6575152)

Lot's O beer and party snaks.
Oh, and Lot's of those TV advertised
video teacher cds -- For Free!

How about... (0, Troll)

Chordonblue (585047) | about 11 years ago | (#6575153)

"Open Source: What's out there and how to take advantage of it"

Starting with an explanation of the ethos of Open Source, you could then go on with some real examples of how Open Source has great appeal.

You could hit and a few other of the more well known pieces of software. In addition, you could do a segment on Linux - basic tutorials, that kind of thing.

I guess it would depend on how technical you wanted to get, but I would probably keep it simple. A lot of people have heard of Open Source software but have no idea what the advantages are.

How to get Paid writing Viruses for the RIAA? (1)

linuxislandsucks (461335) | about 11 years ago | (#6575154)

How to get Paid writing Viruses for the RIAA..

preferably with Working for the MCA by Lynard Skynard playing in the background :)

Great teaching opportunity... (1)

Orthogonal Jones (633685) | about 11 years ago | (#6575178)

How 'bout some classes on... 1) Distributed Scheduler Design 2) SMP, Spinlocks, and Cache Coherency 3) Rules-Based Simulator Design 4) Debugging Multi-threaded Assembly Language

USB flash drives (2, Insightful)

puck01 (207782) | about 11 years ago | (#6575195)

Not a big deal to most users yet, but they are catching on. I'm a big fan of them personally - more reliable than floppies and easy to carry around ie. your keychain. Drives me nuts when I'm using a public lab or work computers and I'm not supposed to use one because I'm not allowed to install a new device. Yes there are ways around that ;), but most normal users wouldn't know that.

Anyway, if you're gonna restrict people from installing a new device on your windows machine, go ahead and install the USB flash drive ahead a time for everyone...i'm betting it'll pay off eventually.


Some (1)

4of12 (97621) | about 11 years ago | (#6575201)

medium sized tourist town

Basics, of course (clicking the mouse, dragging and dropping, word, email, web browsing).

Advanced: Creating a web page, running a spreadsheet, maybe even setting up a simple database for logging hotel guests, etc.

Don't just cater to the masses (1)

HomerNet (146137) | about 11 years ago | (#6575207)

Keep in mind that once these people start learning, some of them will want to go on to more advanced stuff. Once someone learns the basics of a spreadsheet, they may want to learn some of the more advanced formulas available, or perhaps formatting techniques.

Also, those off-the-wall classes might not be as out there as you think. I'm constantly teaching my co-workers (they're bean-counters) about hacker ethics, and sometimes I can't get any actual work done because they want to know more.

Megahertz and megabytes (4, Interesting)

wideBlueSkies (618979) | about 11 years ago | (#6575208)

I've found that I almost always get blank stares when I start to explain to folks why they need memory, storage or processor upgrades. They especially have a hard time understanding the concept of disk space. "How can you run out of space in that big white box?"

Perhaps a class called "How Your Computer Works" would be in order. The class would have gentle, simplified explanations of all the tech "mumbo-jumbo". And how it all fits together.

People aren't stupid (well most aren't). Sometimes they're just overwhelmed by information and lingo. A guiding hand could make all the difference in the world and actually help make them computer literate.


Depends if you want money or not (1)

d3am0n (664505) | about 11 years ago | (#6575210)

Honestly I'd say that if your main base of users is out of towners, then you should head into a conveniece or entertainment avenue since they aren't going to be around long enough to take a class
Maybe open up a cyber cafe or a LAN gaming center, both are proven effective buisness models.

Re:Depends if you want money or not (1)

d3am0n (664505) | about 11 years ago | (#6575268)

Hrm, damn i forgot to give a selection of games as you had asked for if a LAN was suggested, but i'd guess the classics like Warcraft III, Quake III, Unreal tournament, Neverwinter nights, and probably Tom Clancey's ghost recon as well as Counter Strike would all be decent enough game to bring in some buisness
As for a cafe, well that just needs a star bucks pretty much and your set to go.

I think the problem is smaller than you realise (1)

dont_stand_so_close_ (626643) | about 11 years ago | (#6575212)

Anyone who whats to use email, usenet, google, ect. has already figured it out. I doubt your grandma wants to learn how to set up a spread sheet in excel. If she wanted to do her taxes she'd hire somone or get out the ol' pencil and paper like she's been doing the last 40 years. She'd probally get it done way faster than using excel.

People don't need to use technology just cuse it's there.
My grandfather still reads the newspaper rather than usenet and slashdot, because he's happy that way.

I wouldn't overestimate the avarage persons desire to learn anything new. You'll just end up with a empty class. (speaking from experiance)

but good luck anyway.

Way too much information people. (1)

lordDallan (685707) | about 11 years ago | (#6575223)

First, I think it really depends on how strong your skills are and what your background is. Always teach what you know.

Second, watch out for online games if you are the type of person who can be intimidated by a pushy fifteen-year-old. Inevitably one will show up and try to change your lab into his person UT200X fantasy world.

Third. I am a frothing at the mouth Mac zealot, so don't rule out the opportunity of putting a couple Macs in there. It's an easy and safe way to experiment in the *nix world.

Fourth. Concepts are REALLY important for beginning computer users. Try to talk about why folders are called folders and how they help organize the computer. What RAM and hard drives are and why they're different. Lots of people don't have these basic concepts down, and they can be really helpful to starting to understand why the computer works the way it does.

Fifth. Have a great time. I grew up in Iowa and Iowans are great folks. I'm sure your lab will be a big hit!

What computer to buy (2, Informative)

Jon Abbott (723) | about 11 years ago | (#6575224)

I have consistently found that most people are clueless when it comes to buying a computer. Because of this, I think one of the classes you should teach is "Fundamentals of buying a computer". You should go over the basics, like what to look for in a computer, what brands to avoid, what brands to look for, the laptop/desktop option, the PC/Mac option, the building-from-parts option, etc. etc... The more you teach this class, the more feedback you will get from students about their purchasing experiences -- this will be great for you and your students.

call them "certifications" (4, Funny)

utexaspunk (527541) | about 11 years ago | (#6575227)

call them "certifications" and make stupid little "certificates" for them to hang on their walls. maybe then a local business will try to get all their employees "certified". it seems to make the people in my office think they're competent... you may also want to offer testing.

Games (1)

Gantic (460802) | about 11 years ago | (#6575238)

The best games to get people to come in (assuming you're in the US) are going to be games like Half Life (with all the mods - CS, TFC, DoD, FLF, etc, etc), Quake 3, UT2k3, other FPS go down very well, you might also want to throw stuff like ICQ, MSN etc onto the computers, many people use them regularly as an essential.

You may also want to find some RTS games (Real Time Strategy), stuff like Command and Conquer etc, they are very fun over a LAN as well as over the internet.

Tourists (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6575242)

Okoboji, Spirit Lake, Arnolds Park, Iowa

Anyone moronic enough to vacation in these towns needs only a direct connection to the US governemnt, so they can be quickly exterminated and removed from the gene pool before causing it irrepairable harm.

A class in nomenclature (1)

Rev.LoveJoy (136856) | about 11 years ago | (#6575263)

I don't know how much longer I can take mom calling at 6:30 PM on a weekday and saying, "Hello son, how was work? My AOL intraweb is broken and I think it's because the Tivo has a general protection fault."

Thank you, that will be all,
-- RLJ

Wireless 101 (2, Interesting)

pcwhalen (230935) | about 11 years ago | (#6575265)

Since wireless cards and base stations are cheap, it might be good to show people they can use the cable modem/dsl from anywhere/any computer in the house without hardwiring.

First part of the class is how to put in the card and attach the router to the modem. Then to get to the internet with the wireless setup. Then how to run a peer to peer local network using the DHCP sever on a wireless router.

WEP and security are good topics for later. If you had people that wanted to share but were a little distance away from each other, you could even do Yagi 101, but that's a little much.

Have everyone bring a can of Pringles. You could have snacks for the class and materials for an antenna.

Raise their awareness (1)

AshtangiMan (684031) | about 11 years ago | (#6575280)

of Linux perhaps. If you have a class learning spreadsheets, then you might mention that there is another machine in the corner running "another operating system" (or some phrase designed to minimize FUD) that has a free spreadsheet on it. There may be people out there coming in who don't have a computer, but are thinking of buying one. Why not educate them about the choices in some way?
I am definitely telling all of my computer illiterate friends that there are choices, and when the come to me with "My computer is broken" I often have them bring it by just so I can show them my Linux (Mandrake 9.1) box. The idea that Windows is "easier" to use than Linux is patently false. Windows doesn't even offer better support, in that you have to pay someone to fix your machine if you don't have the knowhow.
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