Kupuna computer class begins

In an effort to remove the mystery of computers for the elderly, John Doughty will teach a computer class tailored for kupuna through Kaua‘i Community School for Adults.

“I feel like the elderly were left behind,” he said, in reference to computer technology. “We should do a little extra to help them.”

Rather then think of a computer as a complicated piece of equipment, he introduces students to familiar terms they use everyday.

“There’s only two things on the computer,” he said. “Files and folders.”

Pointing to a filing cabinet Doughty breaks it down to the basics.

“The computer is exactly the same thing. We’ll create a folder on the desktop and keep all of our files there.”

Then he introduces them to the desktop.

“These are words they’ve used their whole life,” he said. “I ask students, ‘What’s on your desktop at home – pictures of the grand kids, a Rolodex, files?’ That’s all that’s on the computer desktop.”

Beginning Oct. 27, Doughty’s class will meet twice a week for three weeks at Kaua‘i High School.

Doughty moved to Kaua‘i from San Jose where he taught basic computer classes at Silicon Valley College, a graphic artist vocational school.

“The very first thing I do with my class is get them comfortable with the computer,” he said.  “I keep it to the very basics — how to find a page on the Internet; how to send an e-mail and open attachments; how to organize files.”

He assures his students that they don’t need to stray far from the desktop on the computer.

“When they realize that you spend 90 percent of your time on the desktop it makes the computer so much smaller,” he said.

One of the first things he has the class do is create a folder.

“Then we go on the Web to find a picture and put it in that folder,” he said. “The Web is the most powerful tool in the world, but your computer is no better then a toaster if you don’t ask it a question to get it to work for you.”

Doughty has had students up to 80 years old.

“When I moved here I saw there weren’t any classes being offered specific to the elderly,” he said.

Doughty makes sure every student finishes his class with confidence in their ability to surf the Web, store files and create an e-mail.

“I start with an intro and don’t move forward until everyone understands the concept,” he said. “If one person is struggling, I have everyone practice what they’ve learned while I work with that student. Nobody likes to be left behind.”

Students follow along with Doughty on a projector attached to his laptop.

One tactic he uses to simplify the appearance of the desktop is clean off all the icons.

“All they need on the desktop is Explorer and their folder,” he said.

The dozen Microsoft icons that litter a desktop can be over-stimulating.

“They see all the icons and think, ‘I have to learn what all these do?’ No,” he said. “Just hide them.”

Doughty sees his class as the gift best suited for a parent.

“Instead of giving them stuff they don’t need, get them computer literate. You can get them used to technology and then give them a Web-cam so they can be talking with the grand kids. These are things that can make our parents’ lives a lot simpler.”

Another three-week class will begin Nov. 17. For information or to register, call 274-3390.

Want to take the class?

What: ABC’S of Computers

When: 6 to 8:30 p.m.

Mondays and Wednesdays, Oct. 27 through Nov. 19

Where: Kaua‘i High School

Cost: $55 for a three-week class

To register: 274-3390

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