Excelling Again

Nicolette Tan (WC’16) is a Computer Workshop Leader and a Small Business Consultant. She will be teaching a workshop on using Facebook as a tool for marketing businesses. This is Nicolette’s second semester serving as a Workshop Leader.

 This is my second semester of Computer Literacy workshops and one thing that struck me was definitely the realization that no matter how many semesters I do this, no two sessions will be exactly alike – the concerns and needs of people will be different, the skill levels and questions asked will never be the same. This is something that may seem so “duh” to anyone else reading this, but to experience the difference I think will surprise me every time, in a good way. It really goes to show how much of an impact can be made, and it definitely helps keep these workshops fresh for me, even if the content is the same.

I’m actually pretty glad that in our first workshop we didn’t have a lot of participants – we’ve always known that 1-1 assistance for computer literacy is the most effective way to conduct a class. With this format we could target specific questions that they had, and teach them to use Excel in a way that was tailored directly to their needs. For example, one woman came in with a spreadsheet she was working on for her job, while Debbie, the lady I was working with, was focused mainly on how to use Excel to manage her personal monthly budget.  I wonder what the balance should be, in the tradeoff of impacting more people, or impacting a few people more substantially. It’s a tough line to draw, but I think that in this case, we can only do the best we can, and I tend more strongly to the latter.

As I mentioned previously, today I assisted Debbie, a retired woman who wanted to use Excel to manage her personal budget. We found some existing resources online that would help her, like templates. As we were working on the Excel sheet, I found it easy to incorporate some of the skills that the lecture planned to have covered. With practical technical skills like Excel and other tools, I realize how important it is to have a personally meaningful project to work on to ensure maximum understanding – it is really where theory and application combine. This is even more direct than any arbitrary activity we could have planned for the class, and I felt a huge sense of satisfaction helping her out. I didn’t manage to teach her a lot of additional Excel tricks, but I think it was definitely a tradeoff between reinforcing the basics specific to her needs, and teaching her as many tools as possible to help enhance her Excel skill ability.

To round up, I definitely believe that we had a very meaningful session today, and linking the participants up with online tutorials and external materials was a very nice touch to help them progress beyond our introductory workshop.