I’ve realized over the last few years that the hardest thing for me to teach someone about a computer, is how to use a mouse. I have probably taught Intro to Computers over 100 times, and I still sometimes feel like I haven’t cracked the secret code of teaching the mouse.
The problem is, that using a mouse involves a cognitive disconnect. You have to move a thing around on a table, and understand that it is moving something on a screen in front of you. The things that are moving are on different planes. It’s a little bit like rubbing your tummy and patting your head at the same time (which I actually cannot do.)
I’ve tried a lot of different ways to teach it, I’ve held the mouse up in the air – and had a student hold it up in the air to try to use it. I’ve tried holding it on a table, and using a video, or that awesome mousercise website from Palm Beach County Libraries. I’ve used clapping to try to demonstrate the speed of a click and double click. But the one thing that has ended up working everytime I try it, is to walk over to the patron, put my hand over theirs on the mouse, and make their hand make the movements with mine.
I don’t like touching people, I don’t really like being touched. I’ve always ascribed it to being uptight. No, I don’t have any sport of deep childhood trauma or anything, I just have a healthy sized personal space bubble. It’s about 8 feet in diameter, if you were wondering. And yet…
I really want people at the library to be able to use the computer. I want them to be able to fill out job applications, or talk to their grandkids on Skype, or just scroll through pinterest looking for knitting patterns. And for a lot of people just starting out on the computer, they won’t learn it if I don’t physically show them. So I do. I ask them if it’s ok, put my hand on top of theirs and help them click.
Sometimes, the simplest solution to a problem is the hardest one to do.