Extension offering basic computer skills class with Tech 360

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 25 March 2023 at 8:19 am

Those who complete 6-hour course can receive a free computer

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Alwyn Cayea and Abby Smith of Medina discuss a new free computer class with Katie Leach at Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension. Tech 360 is being offered to 10 individuals who want to learn basic computer skills and receive a free computer at the end of the 6-hour course.

KNOWLESVILLE – A new free class, Tech 360, offers basic computer skills at the Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension.

And there is an added a bonus: the first 93 people who complete the six-hour course can receive a free refurbished desktop computer to take home.

Tech 360 will be held over three weeks and open to the first 93 individuals who register.

The class will be taught by Alwyn Cayea and Abby Smith of Medina, both interning Americorps students, with guidance from Katie Leach, who oversees the Orleans Digital Literacy Program.

Tech 360 is a collaborative mission with Ignite Western New York Digital Equity Coalition, a community collaboration of representatives from community-based organizations, business, government, school districts, higher education, philanthropy and unaffiliated community members. Leach is a member of the Coalition. Its goal is to get computers into the hands of families who previously couldn’t afford one because of (1) affordability, (2) lacking the technology and (3) no internet access.

“We are trying to address all of these with the Digital Literacy Initiative,” Leach said.

The Tech 360 class will fall under the umbrella of United Way of Orleans County, which secured the grant to fund the Orleans County Digital Literacy Initiative.

The first class will be April 12, followed by classes on April 19 and 26. All classes will be from 1 to 3 p.m. at Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Participants must complete all six hours of classes to receive their free computer.

“Alwyn and I are both looking forward to teaching the classes,” Smith said. “We’ve been brushing up on our curriculum.”

Leach said she expects the classes to fill up fast. Anyone wanting to register may call Cooperative Extension at (585) 798-4265, Ext. 146 or (585) 857-9883 or e-mail orleansdigitalliteracy@gmail.com. Anyone is eligible as long as they are over the age of 14.

If the classes fill up, there will be a waiting list, Leach said. She also said her office offers other services, such as one-on-one technical tutoring, classes upon request and help in applying for $30 a month Internet under the Affordable Connectivity Program of FCC. More information on that is available online at www.fcc.gov/acp.

Anyone who receives any kind of benefits, such as free school lunches, Medicaid, veterans’ benefits or is at or below the poverty level is eligible for the low-cost Internet.