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The January 2008 ASTD (American Society for Training & Development) e-newsletter Links offers a great tip for library staff and library users in search of simple, free, online introductions to a variety of software packages including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access.
GCFLearnFree.org, owned by Goodwill Community Foundation, Inc., provides online tutorials, classes, articles, video modules, and interactive lessons, at no cost, to anyone interested in learning. Topics are easy to find in the lower right-hand corner of the home page. A site map offers a more complete overview of what GCFLearnFree.org offers. And the registration process is among the most painless and facile I’ve encountered online (requiring little more than a user name, password, and email address)—these are clearly people who understand how to attract and comfort even the most computer-phobic learners.
The lessons themselves are in byte-sized, easily digestible segments. The Word 2007 tutorial, for example, begins with a three-screen lesson introducing users to the Word environment, includes an easy-to-complete exercise, and returns users to the main screen so they are not left wondering what to do next. Those wishing to move to the next level of instruction find a four-page section on text basics. The icons in the upper right-hand corner of each page make it easy for users to print the lessons, and a link to a video on the second of the four pages provides students with a short introduction done in a conversational style which gives the impression that the instructor is right there to support and encourage even the most reticent of learners.
There is even a “Link To Us” page for libraries and other organizations interested in helping their users find GCFLearnFree.org.
“For the past eight years, adult learners have been able to turn to GCFLearnFree.org for free, online computer, math, and life skills training,” Kelly Markham notes in her ASTD Links article. “Courses are provided in English and Spanish and are available to learners around the world. To date, GCF has served more than 300,000 people from more than 230 countries.”
Kudos to Goodwill Community Foundation, Inc., and kudos to ASTD for helping draw more attention to this wonderful introduction to online learning.
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