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Basic Computer Skills Champion Profile

WestEssExp_hrzWhile Western Technical College’s INTERFACE Liaison/Success Coach, Ray Heidel, figured there were plenty of people in the region that could benefit from the Basic Computer Skills Course, he was not prepared for the deluge of phone calls he received on the day Western’s press release announcing the program was published. On the first day the release was published, Heidel received over 20 inquiries from individuals requesting information about the course and how and where to access it. This trend, while slowing somewhat, has remained strong since the launch of the Basic Computer Skills Course in the region.

Heidel’s enthusiasm about the program began while previewing the course during an INTERFACE conference call in fall of 2015. Heidel said he jumped up from his chair and exclaimed, “This is exactly what we need!” This was promptly followed by Tonya Wagner, Western’s Associate Dean of Business Education and TAACCCT3 Grant Manager, naming Heidel as the Basic Computer Skills Course Champion for Western Technical College. Ray’s enthusiasm was fed by his prior work experience with several partner agencies and organizations in the region. He had seen first-hand the struggles and frustration of individuals in need of basic or improved computer skills which would allow them to seek or advance in employment or to carry on with life in the ever-changing world of technology. He immediately saw the potential of the course as a solution for individuals who truly want to learn or expand their use of computers, and was determined to spread the word about how great the Basic Computer Skills Course truly is.

Beyond the initial news release, Heidel has spread the word about the Basic Computer Skills Course throughout the Western Technical College region through personal contacts with Western’s Regional Learning Centers, area organizations and agencies serving those that may benefit from the course, as well as employers and other universities in the area. The response from these agencies, organizations, employers and universities has been dramatic and extremely supportive of the course. He believes that enthusiasm is contagious and has been effective in getting others to take a look at the Basic Computer Skills Course and see its potential.

Heidel has worked closely with those who created the course including Fox Valley Technical College and subject matter experts at other Wisconsin technical colleges who collaborated to create the program. He believes that one of the many benefits of the Basic Computer Skills Course is that it is presented in a very understandable manner and can be used at the pace of the learner.

Through the INTERFACE grant, Western Technical College has now hired a Basic Computer Skills Course Coach Intern who will be placed at the Workforce Development Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin to present workshops and work individually with those who may need support with the program. Kathleen Olson, Wisconsin Job Service Western District Director, shares Heidel’s enthusiasm about the potential of the program. “Many of our customers have excellent skills and experience in their occupational fields, but find that their computer literacy is not adequate for the job search and online application procedures that they encounter today,” said Olson. “We are thrilled to have the Basic Computer Skills Course Coach Intern at the Workforce Development Center to provide guidance and support to individuals who are developing the computer skills that can increase the effectiveness of their actions to secure suitable employment.”

The Basic Computer Skills Course is free and can be used online or offline. It includes a comprehensive assessment and students taking the course through Wisc-online.com can earn badges for each lesson completed. They can also email a progress report to their instructor, trainer or other interested party. Access the course online. Download the “offline” version.

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