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One step at a time: Emily Lovberg helps people build computer skills

You might call her a computer guru, but Emily Lovberg understands how unnerving computers can be for someone trying to learn how to use one for the first time.

"It's like trying to learn how to ride a bike and speak French at the same time," she says. "You have to learn new motor skills to use the mouse, new vocabulary, how to operate the machine, and how to work with the software."

As a computer instructor for Indianapolis OASIS, Lovberg created a "Before I Go to Intro" course to help those who think 'I can't do this.' The class helps them take one step at a time, just learning mouse skills and some of the language. She has seen many people who start here develop the confidence to take more classes, and master skills that they put into practice. "They have become some of my best students," she says.

   
   
   

Now thanks to a corporate contribution from AT&T, more mature adults will have access classes where they can build computer skills. Through the $1 million corporate contribution, OASIS is expanding its programs to help mature adults in more communities develop the skills, resources and confidence to use technology effectively in their personal lives and in the workforce.

Through a partnership with the Indianapolis Urban League supported by AT&T, OASIS has expanded its computer classes to the downtown Indianapolis area, reaching an underserved audience. Participation is growing fast as the word has spread through the neighborhood. Lovberg is enthusiastic about the opportunity to help people apply what they learn in the classes.

"One woman who is an artist came here from New Orleans after the flood. She took a digital camera class and learned how to photograph and make beautiful prints of her paintings that she sells at art shows."

She met another man in her PowerPoint class who had taught disabled kids and adults how to make guitars from cigar boxes. He used PowerPoint to make an instructional video showing people how to make their own guitars.

"I love to see people using what they learn. Whether it's to volunteer or for self-improvement, it is incredibly rewarding for me."

Lovberg has recruited and trained other volunteers to step into roles they never imagined -- from keeping OASIS computers up to date, to creating videos for events, to helping students in the computer classes.

"You don't have to be an expert to be an assistant in the computer lab," she says. "Our assistants are a second pair of eyes for me." As they watch for signs of people needing help and jump in, the problem solving process helps the assistants develop their own skills.

"Learning a computer skill is an opportunity to stretch your brain, and it is important to exercise the mind as well as the body. I just get a thrill to be able to see people move in a new direction in their life."

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