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Best of the Web: Free Tutorials Designed for People New to Computers

Page history last edited by wwhisnant 9 years, 7 months ago

GCF Learn Free.Org: A best one-stop site for well structured, completely accessible adult skill building  instruction. 


Developed by Goodwill Community Foundation International,  GCF Learn Free.Org,(http://www.gcflearnfree.org/)  is a collection of free, online adult learning resources.

In this economic climate, with so many adults needing to re-tool to find work, this collection is a treasure.  It is concise, easily navigable, user friendly, and appeals to a variety of learning styles. In particular, it covers many aspects of computer literacy, providing tutorials for MS Office suite 2003-2010, as well as for Open Office.  


Best of the Web: Free Tutorials Designed for People New to Computers


Public libraries are suddenly at the forefront of technology education in this country. Many people unfamiliar with computers and the internet are seeking an introduction to this technology at their

public library. In a modest effort to ease such transition, and as students of Library Science and Information Studies, we searched for high quality, non-commercial, and freely available online tutorials designed for people new to computer use. We then asked a small group of experienced public library staff, all of whom work directly with the public, to evaluate selected tutorials for clarity

of explanation, ease of navigation, and for the ability to engage. We invite you to view these rankings and comments and to consider these helpful tools for inclusion in your library’s technology education programming.We hope that additional recommendations and resources will be added to this preliminary list.



Ingrid Hayes and Joann Verostko

Candidates for the Degree of MLIS

Department of Library and Information Science

School of Education

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

The Mousing Around Tutorial


From the Palm Beach County Library System, FL (http://www.pbclibrary.org/)


Four reviews/Rating: 4.7 out of five



Overview of mouse operation followed by mouse practice including scrolling, typing

in a text box, and dragging an object.



It is fun and easy.


Good graphics, easy to follow, keeps one’s interest.


An excellent beginning tool . . . good examples of things you would come across on a normal basis.


Encouraging–doesn’t intimidate.                                                                                                                  


The TypeOnline Tutorial


From web developer Dave Bartlett, Hampshire, England.


Four reviews/Rating: 4.3 out of five.



A series of   “lessons” for typing and keyboarding instruction and practice.    

Includes directions on linking these lessons to your website.



(Patron) needs uninterrupted time (for this tutorial).


It is challenging yet still encouraging since it gives you immediate feedback.


It has the same training you would receive in a keyboarding class    



The BBC’s Guide to Using the Internet


From the British Broadcasting Corporation


Three Reviews/Rating: 5.0 out of five



A series of learning modules introducing the internet, its use and navigation. Includes email,

social networking, and internet safety. Features a “jargon buster” guide to assist with terminology.



A good tutorial even for the experienced web user. 


User friendly. . . An excellent source. . .


May require headphones for library use.


Patron should be familiar with mousing and page navigation to avoid frustration.


(Please see below for additional notes about using Webwise: The BBC’s Guide to the Internet.*)


Further Resources:

These two sites offer instruction which is complimentary to the above tutorials.


How to get Free Email: Yahoo



How to get Free Email: Google




Set up an email account with either Yahoo or Google.


Job Application Practice




A useful practice job application from Stratford Library in Connecticut. The practice application allows the user to become more familiar with drop-down menus, radio buttons, blank fields, etc.  It also gives advice

on materials and information to gather before the user fills out a real application.  It is not aimed at a person completely new to the computer environment. True beginners will need some assistance with it.  But it is a very good approximation of a real online job application.


The link below will take you to the first page of the application.  It is presented as if the user is applying for

a job with the “Miracle Widget Repairs Co.”.  The use of humor is a nice touch.  The application then takes

the user through the various steps used in online job applications including the creation of a user password, contact information, education and job experience, etc. Unlike the above  tutorials, this one can be

downloaded to a library’s server to ensure future access and/or to use offline.



The information below is directly from the email we received giving us permission to use the practice application.  It includes the files for the tutorial.  We are very grateful to Anne Killheffer of the Stratford Library for sharing this with us.


Any teacher or librarian is welcome to use the website if they wish. I recommend that you download the files onto your own server so that if we change our website, you will still have the files."


The files are: 










*Notes on Webwise

The BBC tutorials are very well designed and our reviewers recommend them highly.

These few notes are meant to facilitate successful patron use.



1) The BBC set of tutorials make reference to alcohol consumption, (some patrons might be concerned about this) and to buying and/or selling a house and winning the lottery (these elements are simply a bit

ironic, given the current foreclosure crisis and unemployment rates in this country.)


2) A few British terms used might prove confusing to patrons, for instance reference to "ticking" a box

on a form, rather than "checking" a box on a form.


3) The “terms of use” for this site and its content should be reviewed by each library at http://www.bbc.co.uk/terms/  In response to our query about public libraries linking to the BBC Webwise Site, the BBC sent us the following response.  It might be best, given the wording of this reply, if libraries wishing to use the BBC Webwise site contacted the BBC on an individual basis. We received this reply promptly.



Thank you for your email to BBC Information regarding linking to bbc.co.uk.

You are more than welcome to provide hyperlinks to or publish the URLs for our content on your website.  Please note that in such instances we cannot guarantee how long the content in question will remain on bbc.co.uk, nor can we guarantee that the URL or structure of our site will remain the same. 

I would advise that you make your users aware they are being directed towards bbc.co.uk.

However, I must stress that material may not be copied or images reproduced.  This is because each item on bbc.co.uk comes from a range of sources with which the BBC has a variety of licensing and re-use agreements which are very difficult to reconstruct or renegotiate in retrospect. Additionally, the BBC logo may not be used in any way.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact us with your request.

Yours Sincerely

David Stuart

BBC Information





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