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Conceptual Computer Literacy

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
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Innovation Leader: Christian Sheehy, TechCenter Manager, Christian.sheehy@cincinnatilibrary.org

Problem Statement

The ability to use a computer and computerized resources is more important than ever. Nearly every online job application requires an email address. Growing usage of non-standard operating systems requires users to be comfortable with using a wide range of operating systems, software applications, and Web applications. Recognizing this need and the varying level of customers' comfort with computer use, the TechCenter is committed to promoting computer literacy throughout the community by working with customers as they develop the conceptual computer skills necessary to succeed personally and professionally.

Innovation

Throughout the past year, the TechCenter has doubled the number of computer classes and workshops offered. A new conceptual approach to computer instruction was adopted that helps train customers to be more effective computer users, not just users of a specific software application or operating system. Customers are taught conventions of standard UI and Web design, and many other platform-independent skills. Series of classes offered build on each other to help provide a firm foundation and increased regular attendance. New Web design and multimedia production workstations have been implemented to assist those with specialized tasks. Recently, a program was implemented that empowers students to take ownership and pride in their learning. Customers are given a frequent-shopper style “passport” which is stamped by the instructor every time they attend a class. After students receive 6 stamps, they receive a gift. To increase visibility of these new classes and passport program, the TechCenter has collaborated with the library’s PR department and social networking team. This focused campaign has increased Web presence on the library’s public site, Twitter, and Facebook and has resulted in a steady and consistent increase in class attendance. As technology continues to play a more important part of the services offered by the Library, the TechCenter will continue to develop dynamic programs and resources to meet the needs of the community.

Progress

  • Number of classes have been doubled in the past year and the scope has been broadened to encompass a wider range of topics (Web 2.0, multimedia, Web development, et al.).
  • Conceptual instruction teaches customers to be effective computer users, not just users of a specific platform or program.
  • Rewarding customers for their dedication to computer literacy helps them take ownership and pride in the continual learning process.
  • Specialized workstations (and employee-led instructional support) allow customers to complete projects at their library that they were unable to complete before (Web design, graphic design, audio and video production, et al.)