Statewide Computer Training Program To Begin In Athens Next Week

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A new program that's been bringing Ohioans up-to-date with technology for over a year has finally made its way to the area.

Every Citizen Online aims to help people learn the basics of computers and the Internet, and it starts in Athens next week. It is a collaborative effort by Connect Ohio, Goodwill Industries and Athens County Public Libraries.

James Hill, assistant director of the Athens County Public Library, says workshops will help people who don't have a clue where to start.

"The class size is limited to six people, so there will be one person per computer so you really get a feel for the program. It’s not just 'click here, click here' and you follow along on the screen, you are actually doing it as you go," said Hill.

The digital literacy program is a six-hour session, which focuses on computer basics, an introduction to the Internet, and a taste of what the internet has to offer.

One library user says life without the Internet is almost impossible.

"It's almost getting to be a necessity these days. For example, the IRS doesn't send you tax forms anymore, so it’s getting pretty important to be able to use the Internet," said Dan Imhoff.

Sixty-three percent of Athens County residents currently subscribe to broadband service at their home. Of those subscribed 42 percent say they signed up just within the past three years.

"I have some family who don't know how to use the computer at all, and I try to teach them over the phone and it doesn't work and she’s constantly trying to find classes in her area to learn how to use it," said Athens Library user Christina Karns.

Hill said the program can help those struggling in this bad economy too.

"It gives people skills that maybe if they've been unemployed for a long time may be something that they are lacking in or never had to begin with, so it's a good opportunity to learn something for free and get the hands on experience while they’re doing it," he said.

Twelve new laptop computers will be used as a mobile computer lab and allow the Every Citizen Online training to be offered at various locations throughout Athens, Fayette, Hocking, Jackson, Pickaway, Pike and Vinton counties.

Those who complete the program will also become eligible to purchase a refurbished computer at a reduced rate through Connect Ohio.

More than 20,000 adults across the state have already participated in the program this year.

The first two sessions will be held next Tuesday and Friday at the Athens Public Library.