"What does a window mean?"
"Single click, double click — what's the difference?"
"Can a hard drive ever fill up?"
It was questions such as these, addressed to instructor Marv Weisberg, that made it evident this computer class was geared toward "newbies," people with little or no computer experience.
One of the biggest obstacles standing between would-be workers and gainful employment is a lack of computer skills. The Collier County Public Library has inaugurated a new program, called Collier Connects, designed to give job seekers the basic computer knowledge they need to get hired.
"We see this all the time at the library," said David Chalick, branch manager of the Golden Gate and Golden Gate Estates libraries. "People walk in and don't know how to apply for a job online, or have no idea how to write a résumé on the computer. We want to help people looking for jobs, or for better jobs."
Chalick has taught computer classes for 10 years at the library. The sessions, he said, are always full, and usually have a waiting list.
"I thought, let's just really go for it. We're flooding the market with free computer classes," he said.
Chalick received a $27,000 federal grant for the program. On Nov. 13, the first group of nine students sat down in front of new HP laptops in a room at the East Naples library.
For many in the group, mostly in their 40s and older, it was their first experience with a computer. Weisberg spent time teaching basic terminology, talking about hardware and software, the importance of surge protectors, and why you don't use the power switch to turn the computer off.
If you go
COLLIER CONNECTS CLASSES
What: The Collier County Library is offering basic computer skills and job preparation classes for free
■ 1 to 3 p.m. Dec. 5 Estates Library, 1266 Golden Gate Blvd. W., Naples.
■ 10 a.m. to noon Jan. 9Immokalee Library, 417 N. First St., Immokalee.
■ 1 to 3 p.m. Dec. 12 Estates Library
■ 10 a.m. to noon Jan. 16 Immokalee Library
■ 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 21 East Naples Library, 8787 U.S. 41 E, Naples,
■ 1 to 3 p.m. Dec. 19 Estates Library
■ 10 a.m. to noon Jan. 23, Immokalee Library
Career Assessment workshop:
■ 3 to 5 p.m. Jan. 8 Estates Library
Résumé Writing workshop:
■ 10 a.m. to noon Nov. 27 Estates Library
Interview Skills workshop:
■ 10 a.m. to noon Dec. 4 Estates Library
■ 3 to 5 p.m. Jan. 22 East Naples Library
After an hour into the class, the students were instructed to turn on their machines and begin learning how to navigate the desktop. What learning tool did Weisberg use to familiarize the class with how to master pointing and clicking, dragging and dropping? Solitaire. The great electronic time-waster is the ideal introduction to computer usage, said Weisberg.
Library technical specialist Mike Brauer, monitoring the class to make sure everything was set up correctly, said the Solitaire technique is widespread.
"I taught classes for 10 years in New York, and that's what we used," he said. "All the basic skills you need are right there — and besides, it's fun."
Chalick did teach one older man how to play the game, but the majority of the class was clicking and dragging in no time.
"This is great. His explaining the terminology is what I really needed to know," student John Nicol said. "What is a cursor, what does memory mean ... "
Maris Santos liked the course for a different reason.
"I like this because they let me try," she said. "A lot of people won't show you the real basic stuff. They just do it for you."
In addition to the basic computer classes, Collier Connects offers career workshops geared to helping become more employable.
Career Assessment, a lecture presentation, explores the skills and aptitudes needed for different fields.
Résumé Writing teaches students how to construct a professional résumé, with worksheets for students to create their own.
Interview Skills is designed to make the student more confident and effective in a face-to-face situation.
Next year, classes specifically dedicated to Microsoft Word and Excel will debut.
The career workshops are at the East Naples and Estates libraries. The computer classes are rotating between the East Naples, Estates and Immokalee library branches, with staggered times to accommodate varying schedules, and will continue through September 2013.
All classes are free, and conducted in English. To learn more or register, call Collier Connects at 239-252-4534.