THE COMPUTER - A USEFUL
BY ANN HANEY, LEARNING EXPERIENCE CENTRE, UNITE LOCAL 459, MANITOBA
At The Learning Experience Centre, UNITE members, their families and friends sign up for a program called Integrated Computer Learning. When students register, they participate in an interview to provide the practitioner with information about their workplace and personal goals and interests so that the material used is relevant to their needs.
"Before coming to the Centre, only my children used our computer because I was afraid to break it. Now, I tell them... make room, it's my turn on the computer!"
Learners don't only learn how to operate a computer, they use the computer to do meaningful projects. They soon develop troubleshooting skills and are confident enough to explore independently. Activities are designed to provide students with opportunities to develop multiskills at various levels. When we are learning MS Word, a word processing application, we do "writing" projects. Similarly, if we were developing MS Excel skills, we would work on activities that require spreadsheets, such as creating a budget or tracking inventory. Developing writing and math skills becomes an integral part of the overall process. The curriculum objectives of Integrated Courses focus on both computer skills and communication or other appropriate skills related to the application. This approach allows learners to participate in activities that are relevant to daily life - the practical use of computers finally makes sense to them. We learn by doing.
For example, a group of students developed a PowerPoint presentation for an open house they hosted to introduce the centre to their coworkers. They brainstormed and organized their ideas into a format that they felt comfortable presenting.
This Open House Preparation Project consisted of sub-lessons that strategically target multi-skills in both communication and computer objectives.
The open house was a success as many coworkers signed up for the classes.
Lesson Objectives Are Connected To Student Learning Goals
The learner's individual interests are considered when the practitioner designs the lessons.
"In these classes we don't learn what the teachers want. They teach us what we want to learn."
Various poems and articles related to relevant topics such as Going Back To School as an Adult, The Changing Workplace or even social conditions like Child Labour are introduced as a springboard for discussion.
Students are encouraged to build on their talents ... some learners express their ideas through poetry or song writing. Florence Marquez, a member who attended the centre, expresses her ideas on child labour in the following poem and uses the computer to further illustrate the topic. (This is shown in the sample of her finished product on page 11.) With permission, Florence's work is used as the content for the following class activity, which allows for individual expression while learning computer skills.
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