For awhile now the library has offered a service called Gale Courses. The courses are extensive (about 24 hours,) six-week online classes on a variety of subjects. Each course consists of 12 lessons, two lessons released each week. I took the course about basic Microsoft Access 2007, and I really enjoyed it.
Now, you might be thinking something like “Sure he thought it was great; he works at the library.” Well, it’s true I work at the library, but I got a lot from the course, and I’ll tell you why.
These are instructor-led courses. This doesn’t mean that you have to work on the lessons at a specific time the instructor is available; you can work on them anytime that is convenient for you. What it does mean is that the instructor created the course, wrote the lessons and exercises, is an expert, and has opened a forum so that you can ask questions or leave comments. You will get a response within 24 hours. The instructor for the course I took answered my questions in a patient, clear manner. The forum also facilitates communication with the other students in the class.
I find most computer instruction books daunting. Most of it goes over my head. But the course I took through the library was written in a conversational style and each exercise built upon the previous one, so that at the end I had created two fairly complex databases using Access. This is the way I learn best, and I felt that I had really accomplished something when the course was over. I also received a certificate at the end of the class.
Each lesson in this computer course was hands-on, and ended with a multiple-choice quiz. The quiz did not affect whether or not I passed the course, but it was evaluated. I knew right away which answers I had missed, and could take the quiz again as practice. There was a multiple-choice final exam, and passing this was necessary for me to get my certificate. The final was no problem. I had my notes to help me because I had been able to print the lessons and index to the course. I had the equivalent of an easy-to-follow manual.
There are more than 100 computer courses available, from beginner to advanced. There are also courses in other subjects, including accounting & finance; healthcare & medical; law & legal; and writing & publishing. Among the popular courses are ones for test-preparation. Gale Courses through the Denton Public Library is a great way to gain skills, and all it costs is a bit of time. My experience is that it is time well spent.
Anyone can use Gale Courses on any of the computers in the library. Also, if you have a library card that allows you to check out books, and don’t have a fine over $5.00, you can take these courses from your home (again, free of charge.) Simply go to www.dentonlibrary.com and click on the Gale Courses picture (shown above,) type in your library card number, and choose the subject you are interested in from the list at the left of the screen. Within each subject are dozens of courses to choose from. Choose the course you want, click “enroll,” determine when you want to start the course, and create an account (this account is in addition to your library account, and you’ll use it for any other course you take.) After that, you’re on your way!
One thing to keep in mind is that, although you can work on the lessons at any time, you must complete each lesson within two weeks of the day it was released, and complete the final within two weeks of the last lesson. You are allowed 8 weeks for each course.
Gale Courses is just one of the great resources the library offers, and I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to improve their skills and learn something new.