Advice for absolute beginners

  Jim Thing 10:25 10 Nov 2009

My daughter-in-law's parents have just joined the 21st century and bought themselves a laptop. She has asked me to recommend a simple, practical 'do this, now do that' introduction suitable for an elderly couple faced with their very first computer.

Personally I'm not too keen on the "... for Dummies" books (they're a bit too American and patronising for my taste) and I'm aware of the beginners' courses run by the likes of Age Concern, but beyond that I can't think of a better place to come for helpful suggestions than this forum.

What would you suggest?

  sunnystaines 11:18 10 Nov 2009

insideout series covers everything from novice to reasonable user. get it out the library first to see how they get on. the whole book is copied onto a cd at rear of book so if they can't read the print they can put on screen via the cd and magnify it or have adobe reader read it out to them if their hearing is ok.

  ArrGee 12:00 10 Nov 2009

Two friends of mine have attended the courses run by Age Concern, and they have been very good to a point. The main problem being that my friends have new laptops with Vista and Office 2007, but the courses were run on XP and using Office 2003.

I would suggest that the way ahead is to identify what they will be using the laptops for. My guess is emailing and web browsing, and perhaps the odd letter.

From this point, I would then write out a simple 'crib-sheet' and ensure that application use is at a minimum to start with.

In other words, all emailing can be performed via web-based emailing, such as Hotmail, Gmail, etc. instead of diving into Outlook, and can be saved under 'favourites' in a web browser.

If they wish to type a letter, it would be a good idea to set-up a template that they can open with parameters such as font, font-size, headers, footers, line-spacing, etc. already in place.

By doing this, the crib-sheets will be very simple and easy to use for performing the required tasks.

As an example, the crib-sheet for emailing would outline aspects such as:
How to find the Hotmail website
How to log-in to your account
How to check for new emails
How to open emails
How to save attachments
How to print emails
How to create and send emails
How to add attachments

  Pamy 12:35 10 Nov 2009

"Which" do a book for beginers free, apply by phone only

  wee eddie 13:18 10 Nov 2009

Has a lot of short movies available.

Just enter 'How to xxxx' into the search window

  wee eddie 13:19 10 Nov 2009

Has a lot of short movies available.

Just enter 'How to xxxx' into the search window

  mooly 13:54 10 Nov 2009

I think ArrGee has the best idea, crib sheets that are easy to follow.

I would add, what to do when things don't respond... ie how to use task manager. It's better knowing than wondering what to do, or pulling the plug out.

And following on from that how to start and shut down correctly.

I would also suggest that Microsoft Security Essentials would be ideal as it requires no user input to run.

  Jim Thing 15:33 10 Nov 2009

I posted at 10:25 this morning, went off to have my car MOT'd (successfully, since you ask) and have lunch — and when I got back I had five excellent responses, all of which I shall certainly pass along. Web forums don't get much better than this. And I'll certainly consider writing a cribsheet for them as per ArrGee's excellent suggestion.

I'll tick the box now, before all the various suggestions end up confusing them.

Many thanks

  Forum Editor 19:19 10 Nov 2009

of teaching an 85 year old man how to use a laptop, and it was a memorable experience. He was enthusiastic, but his powers of recall were decidedly limited - it will happen to us all. I would teach him how to reply to an email one day, and he would have completely forgotten by the following morning.

In the end I did what ArrGee has suggested - I prepared a series of crib sheets and presented them to my pupil in a binder. He was much relieved, as was I, and from then on things looked up.

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