Yesterday, we asked people to sign up for two-hour time slots over the next two days – Saturday and Sunday – during which they could come here to my grandmother’s house and start exploring the laptops we brought with us. Unfortunately, one of the laptops wasn’t working (due to an inexplicably missing .dll file), but we managed to fix it by the end of the day.

We got through some basic skills: turning on a laptop; logging in; opening up Microsoft Word; typing some text; copy/paste; bold, italics, and underlining; changing the text color, font, and size; changing the margins on a document; creating a table; saving a file; creating, renaming, and deleting a folder; and dragging and dropping files and folders. We’ll need to reinforce these skills tomorrow, but it was a good start.

We had three sessions. The first was with two sisters, one who was a teacher in another, smaller village, and one who worked with an NGO. Our first teaching experience was a little rocky. My shaky Hindi skills were something of a barrier for the woman I was working with, but I did improve as the day progressed, so hopefully it’ll work out better tomorrow.


Five women came to the second session, three of whom you can see above in our sitting room. The laptops are at a coffee table off to the right of the picture. The woman on the left, Divya, is interested in learning to use Excel to keep track of her students’ grades and easily finding class and student averages, something I think all of the teachers will find useful. Kalpana, the woman in the middle, teaches at the girls’ high school, which is expecting to receive new computers in April. She and another teacher, Rakesh, hope to teach the students to use them. We also asked her to identify four girls from her school who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford computer literacy classes, so that we could talk to and work with them as well. The woman on the right is Deepti.

Three women came to the third session. The two in the above picture are sisters, and the one on the right, Neha, is a teacher. The other’s name is Megha.

This woman in this picture, Roopanjali, was also at the third session and works as a teacher at an English-medium school.

The boy in the above picture, Shubham, is in the eighth grade and came back later in the evening to learn how to use Excel. We went through some basic addition and sum functions using a spreadsheet that Jessamyn sent me in response to an email about teaching Word and Excel to beginners. It’s hard to refuse school-aged children, although we would prefer to focus on training teachers.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to review the concepts we went over today by asking the women to perform a set of tasks and to copy the formatting of an example Word document. The concepts we hope to emphasize include the two-step process of selection and action in Word, as well as the idea that there are many ways of doing the same thing – using the ctrl key keyboard shortcuts, the toolbar icons, or the menus. We’ll also talk about the power of the Undo function and the ¶ toggle to show hidden formatting. Some people were having trouble with the difference between the pointer and the different cursors, as well as the difference between save and save as.

We’ll try to go over some more Word and Windows functions: search and replace, landscape v. portrait, numbering pages, the header and footer, using file-specific password protection, and creating shortcuts.