Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

This is the frequently asked questions (FAQ) page of the McGrath Computer Learning Center at the University of South Carolina at Aiken. The items on this page relate to the curriculum and activities of the Learning Center, especially questions that prospective students may have. If you are not familiar with the term FAQ, you can learn more here.

You may get the most up-to-date information on our web site at . You may also call us at (803) 641-3563, or email us at [email protected].

  1. What course should I take?
  2. What do I need to know to start?
  3. How much do courses cost?
  4. How do I get a catalog?
  5. How do I become a volunteer?
  6. Aren't USCA classes free to seniors?
  7. When is the Word 7 course taught?
  8. Can I donate to the Learning Center?
  9. What is the history of this web site?




What Course Should I Take?

One of our most frequently asked questions is: what course should I take if I already know a little about using a computer? Our Beginning Computer course is designed for users with no computer experience. The course focuses on very basic concepts: turning the computer on, using the mouse and keyboard (very heavy on using the mouse; see the writeup in the next bullet item), moving text and graphic images (such as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle) around the screen, and working with some simple programs.

We do not cover topics such as email and using the Internet in the Beginning Computer course. Those topics are covered in our Computer Basics course, where we go into more detail about the Windows operating system, copying and saving files on the computer hard drive, and using programs such as email and Internet browsers. So if you are just starting with computers, you should take Beginning Computer. If you know how to do the basic tasks described in the paragraph above, you should take Computer Basics.

What Do I Need To Know To Start?

A desire to learn to use a computer. Our Beginning Computer assumes you know nothing about using a computer. We begin with how to turn it on and then how to use the mouse to click on items on the screen that tell the computer what to do.

One of the challenges a senior beginner faces is using the mouse. Our hand-eye coordination is not quite as good as it was when we were twenty and it is a challenge to learn to move the mouse and click the buttons smoothly and without false clicks. We teach you to use the mouse early in the Beginning Computer course, but a lot of practice helps. We use publicly-available exercises to learn to use the mouse. If you want to practice at home, you can find links to the exercises we use here.

How Much Do Courses Cost?

It depends on how many hours of class time. Most of our classes are held over a four to six week period. All our classes meet for two hours, once a week. Therefore, a four-week class gives you 8 hours of classroom instruction for $46. A six-week class gives you 16 hours of instruction for $62.

We also offer short courses that meet one time for two hours (several meet for slightly longer or over two weeks). Short courses thoroughly cover a single topic, such as how to make address labels for your holiday cards (or other things). Short courses generally cost $22, but the longer ones may cost a little more.

You may wonder why a workshop apparently costs more per class hour than a full course. The cost per class hour is approximately the same for workshops and courses, but there is a fixed cost of about $11 per student for the administrative overhead for any class. Because there are fewer class hours to spread that fixed cost over, workshops appear to have a higher cost per hour.

How do I get a catalog?

We mail our printed catalog three times a year, about four to six weeks before a term begins. To get on our mailing list, send your name, street address, city, state, and zip code to [email protected]. You may also find information about our upcoming courses and workshops on our web page at

How Do I Become a Volunteer?

Just ask us. We are always looking for volunteers. There are no special qualifications except a willingness to help other seniors learn to use a computer. You can find contact information here.

Many of our students decide to volunteer after taking one of our classes. If you take a class with us and find that you enjoy the classroom atmosphere and want to give back by sharing your knowledge with others, give us a call.

Our volunteers serve as either staff, coaches, or instructors. Coaches help students in the classroom follow the instructor as he or she leads them through step-by-step, hands on exercises. The instructor is responsible for the lesson plan and overall conduct of the class. Our volunteers serve as coaches as a foundation to becoming an instructor. We also train both coaches and instructors before they serve in the classroom.

Of course, you don't have to take a course with us to become a volunteer. If you have some computer skills that you would like to share with seniors and gain the satisfaction of watching someone learn to do things on the computer they never thought they could do, come join us.

Aren't USCA Classes Free to Seniors?

USCA classes may be, but the Learning Center classes are not. Under certain circumstances, USCA classes may be free of tuition for those at least 60 years old. However, while the Learning Center is affiliated with the USCA Office of Continuing Education, it is not a part of the state-supported university and our classes are not covered by that policy. Our classes are offered under an agreement between USCA and the Learning Center. Under that agreement, the Learning Center pays USCA for administrative support, classroom rental, utilities, and computer network services.

When is the Word 7 Course Taught?

It is hard to keep it straight, but there is no such program as Word 7. This is a common confusion between the operating system version—Windows 7—and the Microsoft Office version. The Office programs (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) need the Windows operating system to run. The version of Windows that runs your computer may be Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, or, now, Windows 8.1. Any of those versions allow you to run any of the Office programs. The versions of Office, and thus of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, are Office 2000, Office 2003, Office 2007, Office 2010, and, now, Office 2013. At the Learning Center, we currently teach Word 2010/2013 and Excel 2010/2013 running under the Windows 8.1 operating system.

Can I donate to the Learning Center?

Yes. You can get details of how to donate by going to the Donations web page.

What is the history of this web site?

The history of the web site can be found here.

The McGrath Computer Learning Center is associated with
the Office of External Programs and Continuing Education at the:
University of South Carolina Aiken

471 University Parkway
Aiken, SC 29801
Contact: 803-641-3741
E-mail the webmaster at [email protected]
©McGrath Computer Learning Center and USC Aiken

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