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Computer Course Helping Residents to Bridge the Digital Divide

Dec. 21, 2006 — St. Croix residents are tackling computer illiteracy head-on by attending an eight-week session at the University of the Virgin Islands teaching the basics of computer usage — step-by-step.
UVI's Cooperative Extension Service CYFAR Program Computer Training Course is designed to increase participants knowledge and usage of computers, according to program instructor Marthious Clavier. One of the goals of this course is to try to bridge the digital divide in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Clavier said.
Students are taught the basics of computer usage and maintenance, beginning with the placement of each attachment and plug. The painstakingly thorough course was perfect for Merlyn V. Massicott.
"I used to have to call [the computer technician] if my mouse wasn't working," Massicott said. Thanks to the course, Massicott said she is now able to troubleshoot minor problems, before she contacts technical support.
Clavier said the program is best suited to those individuals who have never really taken the time to understand all the workings of a computer. "The program seeks to allow individuals who may have missed the digital wave," Clavier said.
The eight-week-long program starts out with boxes of computer parts. Students are taught step-by-step setup of a computer. They turn the computer on and off, start windows and learn how to "click" using the mouse.
Clavier said the course also teaches basic maintenance, including virus scanning to help systems run smoothly. Students are then taught the ins and outs of Microsoft Office, email and Internet usage. The course also teaches how to attach files and carbon copies (or cc's) to email messages, as well as how to surf the Web and purchase items safely.
Clavier said some of his students have never used a computer before and take the class to understand the computer's inner workings. Clavier went on to say that some of his students take the course because their company has switched to computerized methods and they didn't want to be left behind.
The course was "the best thing that could ever happen to me," Massicott said. She called Clavier "very patient and knowledgeable" and encouraged anyone who needed the knowledge to get on the waiting list.
The course is offered two to three times a year, and Clavier said the next course should begin sometime in May 2007. He said he would be contacting students already on the waiting list in January to be a part of his class. Clavier said the waiting list for the program is "quite long" but encouraged anyone who is interested not to wait to apply.
"Some people may have to wait a while before space becomes available," Clavier said. Approximately 80 percent of the students contacted by Clavier are available to attend the night classes.
For more information on the program or to add your name to the waiting list, contact Marthious Clavier at 692-4090.
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