Please recommend a book or DVD for my Dad wants to learn to use computer basics.
July 1, 2009 9:49 AM   Subscribe

Please recommend a book or DVD for my Dad wants to learn to use computer basics. My dad recently started using computer (windows XP) for the first time ever in his life. He is 60 yrs old and retired. He can open firefox, type in web address (of the few websites that he knows) and click on links in order to surf news website. Beyond that he pretty much doesn't know anything about computers.

He had computer on his desk in last few years of his service. He hated it and never tried to learn. Now he repents, as he recently discovered the beauty and power of computer and interenet. He wants to learn to use computer proficiently.

He lives in India and here on a vacation (visiting us) only for 2 more months. He wants to continue to pursue learning computer on his own, when he returns. I tried to teach him, but having used computer half of my life, it's very difficult for me to teach him anything (or may be that I'm not at all good at teaching or patient with him). It's frustrating most of the times, for both him and me, as he tries to comprehend the concepts that I take for granted.

I don't want to spend too much money. He is pretty smart that way and I'm sure he will grasp quickly if someone can go to his level and explain. I don't want to spend lot of money, but I'm open to resonable, affordable options. Can you please recommend a book or DVD course which can help him learn computer step by step?

P.S. I tried googling, but I was overwhelmed. I would rather trust crowdsourcing/hive mind than sheer advertising out there on shopping websites.

Thanks for all your help!
posted by tvjoshi to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I like the "Dummies" series. Computers for Seniors for Dummies could be worth checking out.
posted by torquemaniac at 10:01 AM on July 1, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestion torquemaniac. But following review on amazon worries me. "I ordered computers for seniors and computers for absolute beginners. both are fine, but they still assume you know something about computers. I still want something that takes you from step one on up. both books are good, but they sometimes skip a step. I wanted something that assumes you have never touched a computer in your life." I don't want to feel the same way after I get it for my Dad. If nothing else, I will try it anyway. Thanks a lot.
posted by tvjoshi at 10:08 AM on July 1, 2009

There are several other suggested books on the Amazon page. Perhaps you could investigate those as well.
posted by torquemaniac at 10:31 AM on July 1, 2009

Could it be that he just needs encouragement? Chances are that you didn't need a book to learn "computers," and your dad probably doesn't either. More likely, he just needs to get un-intimidated. Any sort of positive reinforcement that gets him to repeatedly turn the thing on and play with it might help. Maybe get him set up with an account on ItsYourTurn and start playing chess (or whatever) with him?
posted by jon1270 at 10:32 AM on July 1, 2009

Books are good if your Dad is a good book learner. One of the thing that the "for dummies" books have is that they have good indexes and a lot of small lessons so he can flip around. It will not, however, be great for someone just getting started, though XP for dummies will be close. There are always negative reviews for anything on Amazon, so I wouldn't worry too much. If he's there for a little bit longer, I'd suggest a few things. I teach computers to seniors pretty much as a job so while this is "my opinion" sort of stuff, I've also seen it work decently.

- get him a laptop that you can configure for him and that he can take home with him. Having stuff that he can repeat step for step will be important, you can't just generalize and say "click the firefox icon on the desktop" if it turns out he doesn't have one on his desktop. Similarly setting him up with email and doing some practice email work with him is a big deal, set his email to filter junk and mailing list stuff into folders, set firefox up with adblock, etc.
- with this in mind, if for some reason you can't do that, send him home with a CD that you can talk him through installing a few things. I'd suggest free antivirus software [AVG free is good] and something where you can do desktop sharing [ is good] so if he does have trouble you can help him out. I think Skype does desktop sharing. Maybe get him a headset for using Skype with you?
- The Teach Yourself Visually series is often quite good because there are a lot of photos which is good for some sorts of learners. Keep in mind that your Dad is learning three things at once: computers, XP and, "Internet" which is a lot. I'd get one for XP and one for internet and focus on getting him some basic skills [use a mouse, click and double click, go to a url, use google to search, recover from a mishap] before he leaves.

I don't have a lot of experience with instructional DVDs so I can't help you there, but I might look for websites that have instructional components. Mousercise, for example, is a great slow intro to doing all the things a mouse can do and I've found it pretty manageable for people who are literally "I've never touched a mouse before" brand new.

Other things to keep in mind... while things like Word Processing are a big deal for people who work in offices, it may not be a big deal to your Dad [you can check obviously] so you may find he has a better time using something like Google docs instead of opening a word processor and dealing with save vs save as and all that nonsense. Things like Picasa for editing photos are much easier than Photoshop, even though Photoshop is a good thing once you sort of "graduate" from there, if you even need to.

So, talk to him about the things he might like to do with a computer and find some tutorials online that might help [Picasa has some good ones for example] and see if you can step him through "how to watch a video online" stuff in which case you can send him more as you find them as well.
posted by jessamyn at 11:51 AM on July 1, 2009

Best answer: The following link gives free tutorials and videos on "how to's":

Peripherals: How scanners, printers, CD/DVD burners work
Software: File Sharing for how MP3's work
Internet: Just keep clicking for how everything internet works! Start with Internet Basics, then
try Community and Social Networking

By using this or other online guides, your Dad can copy/paste and email you if he gets stuck and you'll both be literally on the same page.

Show him how to use and he will be surfing like a pro for hours. I also recommend teaching him about online radio, especially something like that can connect him with other listeners with similar tastes and allow him to discover all kinds of music he would never have even thought existed, much less, that he will truly enjoy!
posted by wabanada at 5:19 PM on July 1, 2009

I teach an absolute beginners course based on the site. Its free and starts from how to hold the mouse and double click, up to shopping and banking online. A leaner can start at any point and go at their own pace. People tell me they like it. Some of the modules are rather UK specific (Banking online and using government sites online) but most of it should be fine.
posted by alicegoldie at 10:48 PM on July 2, 2009

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