It is important for adults to learn computers and computer applications because these skills are really used in the workforce. Many students always ask me, "Am I really going to use this?" But people really do use these computer application lessons on the job. It is especially a delight as an instructor to have someone in my class who has done it the hard way before. Because once you've done it the hard way and you realize that there's a better way, it's like, 'Yes, I would save hours if I had done it this way.' One of those students is Shanon Pascual who came on the podcast to share her experience learning computer applications after working in the government space. But she wasn't really excited about the programs in the beginning.
Miss Melodie (MM): A lot of my students have never ever taken an online class and sometimes they have not been in school for a very long time. Had you ever taken anything online before?
Shanon Pascual (SP): No. I had heard that my nephew takes courses online and he despises it. He takes the traditional college courses online and I'm not quite certain what he dislikes about it. Once I enrolled through the New Horizons Career Development Solutions programs, the staff was there 100% to guide me. So to each their own.
Tricks for Online Class Success
What made it easier to succeed in an online class?
SP: I am still somewhat nervous, but it's a safe environment, and if you don't feel comfortable speaking there's a feature that I love. It's the feature of raising your hand in the online Zoom classroom. Or you can type in your questions and at a right time, an instructor like Ms. Melodie will chime in and answer so you're not disrupting the class while they are in the middle of teaching something. So you get the opportunity to ask the question without actually verbally interrupting the class so that makes it a little bit easier. Ask
Another thing that made computer training more comfortable is that it's a small classroom with a diversity of individuals. This makes it feel safe to share and to ask questions sooner than later. We all have our own life experiences we bring to the classroom.
Adults in Computer Training Bring Experience
What kind of computer knowledge in the workforce did you have prior?
SP: I started in State and government work. I had no formal computer knowledge at all. It was all self-taught, on-the-job learning. So taking the courses and the transition has allowed me to grow in such a way that I can bring forth more information, more talents back to the workforce.
MM: The neat thing about adult education as compared to what we traditionally think of as school and college is it's a partnership. I may know something that you don't. But you might know something that I don't. Adults have experiences and they have stories to tell and we can learn from each other which is very different from college. A lot of times just the professor knows everything.
SP: In my class, I might have the most experience in government or State work. So we could be learning a technique such as scheduling a meeting for executives or a team. My classmates may ask, 'how often do you really do this?'. I tell them this is really kind of important. It's an everyday thing, depending on your position, of course.
MM: She's exactly right there's a skepticism in computer training classes that you may not use this. People always ask, "Really? Am I really going to use this?" But people really use these tips and tricks. It is especially a delight as an instructor to have someone in my class who has done it the hard way before. Because once you've done it the hard way and you realize that there's a better way, it's like, 'Yes I would save hours if I had done it this way.'
Why Learn How to Use Microsoft Word Styles
MM: One example of learning something in a computer training class that is useful on the job is 'Styles' in Microsoft Word. Microsoft really values 'Styles'. You can tell they do because if you look at the Home Ribbon 'Styles' take up almost half of your Home Ribbon in Microsoft Word. Based on that, you have to ask, why are they spending so much real estate on something that I don't even know what it is. Styles make everything consistent and easier to move sections around. And the coolest thing about them is that they will update automatically if someone changes their mind.
Shanon has had the opportunity to work with really long documents in the government space. So using Styles was a light bulb for her in making it easier to keep long documents consistent despite changes. I think Shanon may have felt angry at the number of lost productivity hours in prior jobs.
SP: I wouldn't say angry, but frustration. Frustration that there are easier ways, easier tools in the computer applications that I was not aware of.
Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint Linking
What's was one memorable trick you learned that will make things easier for you?
SP: I would have to say when you transfer data from a spreadsheet to a Microsoft PowerPoint when you're collaborating with so many people. When so many people have to input information and you are in charge of printing it out and getting it to the meeting, the data has to be correct. So for there to be a level of guidance for that data to be automatically inputted is a huge help and a huge time saver.
MM: She's talking about linking. If you have information in a spreadsheet, but you have to give a big presentation to a group. You want a chart from Microsoft Excel in PowerPoint that the numbers can be linked together. This way, when accounting puts their numbers in your presentation is automatically updated.
Use Labs to Practice Learning Computers
SP: One of the biggest tools that I take away from the program is the labs. We go through the labs with the instructor. You can also go into the labs on your own and work at your own pace. The labs come with step-by-step instructions on the side to learn even more. Sometimes I have to go back and look up how to do something and I come back to the lab to practice it.
What are computer training labs?
MM: Labs are an artificial virtual environment of the computer applications we use. They are computers with the software that we're working on, but it's always a clean copy. It's loaded with the data files for that particular lesson. The labs are available to the students for six months after they finish our courses so they can continue going back and looking at that at those labs.
What other tools did you use for your computer training class?
SP: I am definitely a technical reader as well, so that is another tool that you offer. There is a ton of books. They're PDF booklets and it's all there. It's all technical and it's all online. So reading those, working the labs, and the classroom learning all works together. Also, IT always seems to be there during my classes. They're like magic how they're always there when you need them. How many people have an 800 number at their fingertips to call when they get frustrated and need IT help.
Does the future look different than when you came into this program?
SP: The future definitely looks a lot easier for me. Education is power. With education, you have the power to relax a little bit more when you know what you're doing and you know what is being asked of you in the workforce on a day-to-day basis. I have a long way to go with education. You never stop learning, ever. Even though I have a set program during this transition period for me, I know these classes are here and available for me to come back to.
Questions to Consider
What can you do going forward? You can rely on what you have learned in your current role and seek a promotion or another job. Or you can acquire new skills that increase your value to your current or future employer.
Education is the key to career advancement, but you don’t need a college degree or MBA to get ahead. IT training and career training are an efficient and proven way to advance your career and acquire new job skills. Ask these questions when considering career training programs.