Internet Accessibility Project
The goal of this project is to produce a simple pamphlet instructing seniors and other internet novices how to get started browsing on, say, a public library's internet terminal. I anticipate it will include basic terminology and some useful sites such as google and mapquest, as well as tips about defensive browsing (i.e. not sharing personal or financial information, how to recognize a fake domain name). Perhaps also a warning that you can't believe everything you read on the Internet :)
Please use this space to suggest other content or just to name sites of interest. It's especially important to include links to sites that people can use to enhance their own Internet savvy when they move beyond the novice level.
A short pamphlet with readable text, available as a pdf for libraries or individuals to print for others.
This pamphlet is intended to help people take their first step into the World Wide Web, and presumes no prior knowledge of computers. It will take you from the moment you sit down at the computer at your public library to the point where you are able to search the Internet for pages of interest to you and for pages that will help you expand your computer skills beyond the scope of this tutorial.
Using the Computer
When you sit down at a computer, there are three main components that you care about: the keyboard, the mouse, and the monitor.
The first is the keyboard, which is laid out like the keys on a typewriter along with a few extra keys that you don't need to worry about until you want to become an advanced user. Typing can be slow at first, but your speed and accuracy will pick up with practice.
Second, your computer is probably equipped with a mouse, which is used to control the cursor: the little arrow symbol you can move around the screen. The mouse also has some buttons on it; generally you will only care about two of these: the left-most and right-most buttons. Depressing these is called 'left-clicking' and 'right-clicking.' Sometimes, you will be instructed to 'double-click.' This means to left-click twice in quick succession. If your mouse only has one button, that button is used for the tasks that normally require left-clicking (and clicking it twice is the double click). The right-click is accomplished by holding down a special button on the keyboard while clicking.
"Monitor" is just a fancy term for the display screen. You generally don't need to fiddle with this, but it's helpful to know the term in case you need to ask for help.
Getting onto the Internet
When you sit down at the computer, you should see the computer's "Desktop" on the monitor (picture examples). If you are using a shared computer, some "windows" may be open, obscuring the desktop with rectangular boxes. You should "minimize" or "close" these windows (see Managing Windows below).
Once you are looking at the desktop, you need to start the "browser." The browser is a program that communicates with the Internet and displays web pages. You can start the browser in two ways. The simplest is to double-click its icon on the desktop (click the picture, not the words below it). Here you have to do a little detective work, since different computers have different browsers installed. You are looking for an icon labeled with one of several names: Internet Explorer, Netscape, and Firefox are the most common. The icon may also have been renamed, so if there is an icon called "Internet" or "Browser," that will probably work, too. Hopefully you are working at a public computer that is trying to make it easy for you to find what you need.
Using the Browser
The browser should open up within a few seconds. It will probably open up a 'home page' by default, which is simply a site chosen by the computer's user or administrator to be the default site loaded on startup. You will notice a few buttons near the top of the browser window, and a small box containing text that probably begins with "http://"
If the buttons are not labeled, you can find out what they do by moving the mouse's cursor over them. Don't click them yet, just 'hover' the cursor over them for a few moments. A short description may appear. The two most important buttons are "Back" and "Forward," which are usually represented by a left-pointing and a right-pointing arrow.
It doesn't work!