For Monica Guzman, 35, of Oklahoma City, everything about computers was once a mystery. That is until she started attending classes at Intergenerational Computer Center.
“I feel sometimes like a little kid,” Guzman said. “For me everything is new, because I don't know how to use computers.”
She said her friends used to tease her because she didn't even know how to turn on a computer.
Guzman and a dozen or so other women in an Oklahoma Family Literacy Program are working toward earning their GEDs, but first must master English as a second language and the basics of computers.
Their class meets for two hours each week at the center.
The Intergenerational Computer Center has been open just over a year and offers free computer classes to people of all ages. The center even offers an area where children can play while their parents work on computers.
The center is funded by a $1.4 million federal grant and supported heavily by Oklahoma City University, which provides student workers and the center's facility. The center is at 2501 Blackwelder Ave. at the intersection of NW 27 and Florida.
In the classroom next to where the group of women diligently works toward their goals, a group of second- and third-graders from Positive Tomorrows, a charter school for homeless children, eagerly learn how to embed photos into Word documents. These children have already mastered the basics of Power Point and several other programs.
“For our clientele, access to technology is a huge thing,” said Susan Agel, executive director of Positive Tomorrows. “That's become one of the very basic things you need to know to do well in school and to have a job.”
As the “digital divide” widens due to the growth of computer applications, employees and volunteers at the center work to bridge that gap.
The center provides free access to computers, Internet connectivity and classes for children, adults and seniors.
The classes range from beginning computer skills to computer-related interests such as Pinterest and Facebook, Photoshop and even Garageband.
The center has more than 100 computer terminals with PCs and MacBooks available. Five terminals are set up especially for small children with special age-appropriate programs and even tiny mice.
The public is invited to visit on a walk-in basis during the center's business hours or to attend the many classes available.
The center even has a mobile lab that travels to various locations, including 10 senior centers, where people may not have transportation or access to computers and Internet.
“In many cases, the seniors can't get out and don't have access so they are socially a little bit cut off,” said Veronica McGowan, the director of the center. “Sometimes that's the only time they have access to email or Facebook to check on grandkids, and things like that.”
The Intergenerational Computer Center is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. For more information, go online to www.okcu.edu/icc/ or call 208-6230.
For our clientele, access to technology is a huge thing. That's become one of the very basic things you need to know to do well in school and to have a job.”
Executive director of Positive Tomorrows