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More About Susquehanna SeniorNet

Overview of how Susquehanna SeniorNet is organized and operates
Contents below on this page:

  • Old Council Pboto

    Short Description of SeniorNet:

    At 9:50 AM -0400 8/20/09, Registrar Deb Damaska wrote:

    SeniorNet is staffed by volunteers locally. We usually conduct classes for 6 weeks and repeat classes every 8 weeks. We do not conduct classes in January or February. Our classes are limited to 10 students per class and are held at the James V Brown Library. Most of our classes are aimed at beginning computing seniors. Our website is www.susquehannaseniornet.org.

    To be a student in one of our classes, you need to be a member of SeniorNet which is a yearly $40.00 membership fee. Our class fees are $25.00 per 6 weeks of class.


    1. Overview

    Affordable computer education to older adults . . .

    SeniorNet's mission is to make available affordable computer education to older adults -- generally Seniors above the age of 50. Our local branch, known as Susquehanna SeniorNet, serves Lycoming and nearby counties in North Central Pennsylvania.

    The Susquehanna SeniorNet Learning Center is sponsored by the James V. Brown Library in Williamsport Pennsylvania. It is located on the 4th floor of the Library. The physical facilities consist of 10 modern computer workstations plus and a record-keeping workstation.


    Our Susquehanna SeniorNet Learning Center is the second-oldest of nine the statewide affiliates of the non-profit San Francisco based National SeniorNet organization, described as "the best online forum for older adults" by The Wall Street Journal.

    Our local SeniorNet branch was started about 1998. It adopted the name Susquehanna SeniorNet in 2004, to reflect the fact that we reach out to support the whole Susquehanna Valley as much as possible.

    More than 500 older adults have graduated from the local fundamentals class. Most have returned to enjoy additional sessions on email, navigating the internet, word processing, photos and graphics, and other applications of interest.


    2. About SeniorNet Classes

    What separates SeniorNet from other basic computer courses is its focus on how older adults learn according to Art Kline, chair of the local Learning Center Council. "Classes are stimulating, fun and volunteer teachers and coaches make sure every student gets the individual attention they need."

    SeniorNet Classes vs Library Classes

    There is sometimes confusion about the difference between the classes taught by the Library staff, and the SeniorNet classes, particularly since the subject material is often the same, and they are both taught "at the Library".

    One of the first things people may notice is that the SeniorNet classes have a cost, while some of the Library classes are free.

    Well, here's the deal . . . The SeniorNet classes are intended to complement the Library classes. The SeniorNet classes generally progress at a slower pace, are spread over a longer number of hours, use a larger instruction staff by having coaches in addition to the instructor., and involve more printed manuals and other take-home materials.

    Students are encourage to "mix and match" between the Library and SeniorNet classes to best suit their individual needs.

    More Details AboutSeniorNet Classes

    Each student has their own computer station at which to work during class.

    Class Length -- Each course meets for 2 hours per week, over a 6 week period.

    Lab Sessions -- In addition to the class meetings, a 2-hour lab session is scheduled at least once per week. A Lab Monitor is present to help anyone who gets stuck or has questions.

    Coaches -- In addition to the instructor, each class is also assisted by an additional 1-2 coaches, who provide individual "coaching" when a student gets stuck. This ensures that each student receives personalized attention.

    Work-along Manuals -- In addition, each student receives a professionally-written, step-by-step work-along manual which is theirs to keep, plus a diskette with practice exercises.

    • These manuals are written by the staff of the National SeniorNet organization, which is financed by the SeniorNet membership dues.
    • The $25 course charge is used to defray expenses for the printing of manuals, binders, printer ink, and other materials used during the class.

    Flash Drive -- a USB flash drive is available for loan, so students can take practice exercises home and practice using their own computers.



    3. Class Scheduling, Computer Club, Announcing Events


    Class Scheduling

    Currently 5 sessions of classes are offered throughout the year -- 2 spring sessions, a summer session, and 2 fall sessions. A winter session starting in January used to be offered but was discontinued, because we learned that attendance suffered due to people not wanting to drive on snowy days.

    A class session lasts 6 weeks, with a two-hour long meeting each week. Class schedules at holidays are adjusted by consensus of class members

    The schedule page lists the current class offerings.


    Computer Club

    The Computer Club is the name we use for special one-time evening seminars, that are held every few months. There is no advance registration required, no cost, and persons of all ages are welcome. Past meetings have included presentations on Buying & Upgrading Your Computer, Computer Questions & Answers, Digital Photography, File Management, eBay, and Viruses & Spyware.

    Where We Announce Our Events

    Our listserver page tells you how to subscribe (and unsubscribe) yourself to our free email announcement system. The listserver announces our classes, computer club meetings, and other special events such as picnics and Swinging Senior Sunday Open Houses.

    We sometimes, but now always, succeed in getting our events published in the local newspapers


    4. Who Operates SeniorNet

    Susquehanna SeniorNet is operated mostly by a group of about 25 volunteers. As with all organizations, there are some volunteers who can work only occasionally, while a few volunteers appear to be working as many hours as a full-time job. Assistance with technical matters we can't handle ourselves, is provided by the staff of the Brown Library.

    The instructors and coaches who do the actual classroom instruction, come from a pool of about 15 volunteers.

    More Volunteers Improve Instructional Quality

    Most volunteers learn new things for themselves by coaching or otherwise assisting, while at the same time helping others . Persons interested in getting involved are encouraged to browse the volunteers wanted page.

    Who Pays SeniorNet's Expenses

    Major SeniorNet expenses such as computer equipment and furniture are financed by grants obtained by the Library. Recently grants were obtained from the First Community Foundation (formerly Williamsport Foundation) amd also Verizon. Previous class members also make donations. Course fees help finance the copying of text manuals and other classroom expenses.

    5. SeniorNet Council

    A dwindling-in-size subgroup called the SeniorNet Council, consisting of about 8 volunteers, handles all "gruntwork" tasks of scheduling, staffing, publicity, making copies of textbooks for class, financial and other record-keeping, producing and snail-mailing printed newsletters, and a myriad of other administrative "gruntwork" support tasks (including this web page).


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