Friday, July 29, 2011

Online Courses/Tutorials/Communities

In her recent post, Susan Garrett claimed to be the first dog trainer to present a dog training course via online tutorials (Improving Your Mental Game, Recallers, Puppy Peaks).  I don't know if that's true, but there is no doubt that online tutorials of any kind are a new phenomenon (last 10 years), great for distance learning, and can reach a world-wide audience. 

Thru the Cajun Clickers Computer Club, another club I belong to that's doing great work in our community, I now work with some very dedicated volunteers bringing computer literacy to hundreds of local folks. One of CCCC's recent projects is to encourage members to take advantage of the thousands of Online Tutorials available, mostly free, and to guide them through the process.  For it turns out, many people won't complete tutorials on their own -- they are more successful with shared experiences.  At home they get stuck on one point they don't understand, don't have anyone to ask questions to, and eventually give up.  I think that's why Susan Garrett sets up online "communities" for each course, so her students can talk about their problems, brag about their successes, express gratitude, and share what they know.  Online communities, videos, audio, and contests make the online learning process feel more "human".  Smart move, Susan!

GCFLearnFree.orgI recently completed my first free online tutorial, Powerpoint 2007, from, and after about 9 hours of watching videos and doing assignments within the program, I ended up with an ability to put together a pretty good Powerpoint presentation.  The course was interesting, well organized, graded by an instructor, plus I will receive a Certificate of Completion that counts for Continuing Education Credits.  I look forward to signing up for their Excel 2007, Word 2007, and Windows 7 classes.  I had the additional advantage that John is taking the Powerpoint course too, a few lessons behind me, and it is funner with us both working the program.  I will one day attempt to insert a Powerpoint presentation into this blog.

I also have the advantage that Phil C, the CCCC Education Director and a good friend, is setting up some Wiki pages, another relatively new internet phenomenon, also free, for his Online Tutorial students to enjoy their own online community around these courses.  I'm helping him fiddle with that, too.  Whew!  So much to learn.  So much to do.  So much new stuff coming at me, it's like standing in a peach orchard at harvest time.   So much fruit you don't know where to start picking. It boggles the mind.

Upwards and onward!

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