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Helping a Learner with a Computer-based Task
What NOT to do:
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Take the mouse without asking permission.
Move too quickly.
When troubleshooting, don’t do something on the student’s computer without
explanation.
Loom over students, talk over their heads.
Use inaccurate or dumbed-down vocabulary.
Worry about being “the expert” who “has the answers.”
Focus on just completing the task or “getting the right answers.” (Students readily fall
into this trap, too! Watch out for it.) This too often leads to the volunteer doing it for
the student.
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What’s better:
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Direct the student to click the appropriate place. If necessary, ask permission to take
the mouse, then demonstrate/model, then return it to the student to try again.
Give students ample time to process, think, guess the right action.
Always explain what you are doing and why, to the best of your ability and the best of
the student’s ability to understand. Remember that errors and problems are teachable
moments!
Whenever possible, sit next to students to be on their level.
Use and teach the correct vocabulary (e.g. “icon,” “menu,” “taskbar”).
If you don’t know something, that’s OK! Teach problem-solving skills such as using the
Help menu. Model how to “figure it out.”
Focus on the process and the skills the students are practicing. Talk with the teacher
about the lesson objectives. Usually it’s better for students to move more slowly and
really understand what they are doing than to just rush to complete the task or finish
the product.
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