How can I become a professional computer literacy tutor?
February 1, 2011 11:37 AM   Subscribe

Recently, I've found that I enjoy and am good at teaching people basic computer literacy and helping them with other technical issues. Is there any way I can turn this into a job in Austin?

Here are some examples. My mom was overwhelmed by setting up her cell phone account, and by dismantling her voicemail service and then setting up a new answering machine. I did all that for her, and in the process I could clearly see why it was confusing for someone who didn't learn the "language" of technology growing up (she's 70).

Last night, I helped a 60-ish friend of mine learn how to use a USB drive to transfer Word files from one PC to another. One of the PCs uses Word 2010 (which of course has been "improved" again by an increasingly young team of programmers who write programs that are increasingly over the heads of older folks) and the other, Word 97-2003.

I showed him how to save files to different folders, save docx as doc, safely remove the USB, put a USB icon on the desktop, and find files and folders. I also helped him install some extra virus protection.

I enjoyed this very much. I think this sort of tutoring is increasingly necessary, and I've seen how tech knowledge gaps can handicap people and allow them to be taken advantage of (computer viruses are one example; my mom hemorrhaging money for voicemail when an answering machine will do is another).

I'll be moving to Austin by the end of the week and will immediately start job-hunting. I'm a writer by trade, but I do have teaching experience (as a grad student). I also have experience writing instructional manuals. Teaching people step-by-step ways to use their technology is like that, except verbal. Any suggestions on where to start looking for basic tech skills tutoring jobs?
posted by xenophile to Work & Money (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You could see if your local library or community center offers any of these sorts of classes, and then propose offering (as a contractor) a 2-month course.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:43 AM on February 1, 2011

Talk to your local MS Office training sites and ask an instructor for tips. You can get certified as an Office Grand Poo Bah by taking a few tests. The money is a lot better than doing training in basic computer literacy, if that's important. From the classes I've seen, much of the training isn't actually delving into Office innards, but figuring out the deficiencies of the various students and addressing them (without embarassing the student).
posted by benzenedream at 12:06 PM on February 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Go visit the activities director at nursing homes / retirement communities about what you could do for the residents?
posted by COD at 12:08 PM on February 1, 2011

Community colleges often offer basic technology classes: how to use your word processor, stuff like that. You could look at your local community college's job listsings, or send a resume to the department that teaches these things (often called something like Student Development or Student Support).
posted by not that girl at 12:59 PM on February 1, 2011

I used to volunteer at Austin FreeNet teaching basic computer literacy classes and enjoyed it. You might see if they're hiring, or looking for more volunteers.
posted by soviet sleepover at 2:27 PM on February 1, 2011

I worked as an instructor at several Adult Ed. programs, and loved it. The pay was terrible, though.
posted by theora55 at 3:17 PM on February 1, 2011

I met someone who had his own business doing this. He was basically a free lance teacher. He put together basic classes and advertised locally through retirement communities, libraries, etc. However, he lives in an area where a high proportion of the population is seniors. It may not be as easy in Austin. I'll MeMail you a link to the business.
posted by unannihilated at 8:17 PM on February 1, 2011

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