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OCU's Public Computer Center Celebrates Achievements

The Intergenerational Computer Center (ICC) at Oklahoma City University has been expanding its partnerships with community organizations and individual users since it opened early this year. The center was funded through a $1.4 million federal broadband stimulus grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The ICC is free and open to the public.

The center’s director, Veronica McGowan, said more and more people are learning the necessity of having computer literacy in modern society, and partnering agencies are emphasizing the importance of training their clients in such skills in order to help them seek and retain employment.

“It’s difficult to be productive in today’s day and age if you don’t have at least some computer skills,” McGowan said. “Even people with decades of work experience are finding that they need to be able to work with computers to keep their jobs or find new work.”

ICC Project Manager Teena Belcik has been signing up groups from around the community to participate in programs offered by the ICC.

Last week the center celebrated the accomplishments of 31 women who completed a month-long program to improve their computer literacy. Students in Even Start, a free family literacy program offered through Oklahoma City Public School’s Adult Education division, received about 27 hours of instruction. Most of the students had few computer skills before taking the class. The Even Start students took classes that included using e-mail, finding healthy recipes on the Internet, writing a resume, couponing, using Skype and more.

At the end of the program, the students received a certificate for their work and a refurbished computer donated by Oklahoma City University. In addition, the ICC hosted the Even Start school-age children and provided age-appropriate computer education.

 Oklahoma City University faculty and students, along with local volunteers, help provide training in computer skills. The ICC’s three computer labs feature more than 110 workstations. The ICC also has a mobile classroom that offers training on-site.

As the name suggests, the center caters to people of all ages. Belcik said senior citizens are learning to form online social connections, parents are learning about job skills and Internet safety, and children are participating in a curriculum that supports educational initiatives. For example, students from a nearby elementary school used the labs during their spring break to get ahead in their school work while having fun, culminating in a book each student designed and printed to take home as a keepsake. Individuals who are part of the Catholic Charities’ Refugee program are learning English through the ICC’s ESL program and on Rosetta Stone software.

“There are a large variety of classes and learning opportunities, and everything is free. Classes we offer include computer basics, keyboarding, an introduction to the Internet, Microsoft Office, job searching skills, photo editing, website design and more,” Belcik added.

Partnering agencies include the United Way of Central Oklahoma, Boys and Girls Clubs of Oklahoma County, Oklahoma City Public Schools, the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, Oklahoma Children’s Theatre, the Oklahoma Housing Authority, Whiz Kids, Positive Tomorrows and the Latino Community Development Agency.

For more information about the center, including a list of available classes, visit www.okcu.edu/icc/ or call (405) 208-6230.