Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Review: Jan's Illustrated Computer Literacy 101

A while ago I wrote about how I was trying to find a basic computer course for my 5th grade son.  I really wanted him to start from the very beginning and understand what the parts were, terms, functions, etc.  It seemed like something that would be easy to find.  But, it wasn't.  Most of the information and instruction I found was geared toward programming and word processing.  We'll get there too.  That just wasn't what I wanted for him right now.

I eventually came across Jan's Illustrated Computer Literacy site.  Its been working very well for our purposes.  This completely free site has lessons on the basics of computers, word processing, spread sheets, Internet use, presentations, and working with databases.  According to the information on the site, the lessons were comprised from notes used to teach a college computer literacy course.

 "So if you master the materials contained in Computer Basics, you may consider yourself to have done half of a college computer literacy course. And for no fees! Aren't you smart!! " - Jan's Illustrated Computer Literacy 101

The lessons work this way for us:  my son sits down to the computer and reads the lesson.  At the end of each section there is a quiz.  The quizzes are impossible to fail because its the type of quiz where you have to get the question correct to move on or, the answer is given to you.  For now, that's it.  When my son moves on to word processing and such, there'll be more to do.  I sometimes wonder if he is really learning anything with this type of instruction.  But, just the other day he piped up with some fancy - schmancy word to describe something we were learning about in another subject, showing he perfectly understood the concept. 

More intensive computer courses are to come.  But, these simple, basic knowledge lessons were just what we were looking for.

-A

3/2/2012 Update

My son has now been using Jan's Illustrated Computer Literacy 101 site for the bulk of his 5th grade year.  He started out learning computer basics and did really well with those lessons on his own.  I had him do 2 independent lessons per week.  Accounting for various holidays and breaks, it took him about a quarter to complete those lessons.

He has since also completed the sections "Working with Windows" and "Working with Words."  I am very pleased with what he has learned.  The "Working with Windows" section taught him how to open windows, create files, and other simple tasks.  "Working with Words" has given him some great lessons on using MS Word.  These lessons were a little more involved as there were more hands-on things to do as opposed to just reading text.  By the end of the "Words" section he was able to make a poster with graphics and various elements independently.  In fact, I assigned him to make his own invitations for his birthday party and he did a fabulous job!  (I may have to take some lessons from him.)  And, yes, he's been able to do all of the lessons independently with some minimal oversight and aid from me.

I am completely happy with this as a basic, beginners computing course (or even as a refresher course).  And, the price can't be beat - FREE!  But, you do have the option of buying a CD or downloading lessons for a price - for those who would rather work off-line or don't want to be distracted by the ads on the site.

Other lessons offered on the site include: Working with Numbers (spreadsheets), Working with the Web, Working with Presentations (Power Point), and Working with Databases.

-A

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