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      Michigan Tech students help locals learn technology

      Every Friday morning at the Portage Lake District Library, Michigan Tech computer science students volunteer to help Copper Country residents become acquainted with new technology.

      The free program, Breaking Digital Barriers, is about teaching the public to use laptops, tablets, reading devices, and social networking sites to be more familiar with current trends.

      â??The technology is always changing, so people are always a little bit off kilter when it comes to this kind of technology,â?? said associate professor of computer science and program director, Charles Wallace. â??There's always room to help people.â??

      Michigan Tech student, Shreya Kumar, said it's a learning process for her as well because she has to get into a blank slate mindset.

      â??It's amazing how many things you think, 'Oh, this is just so obvious,' and it's only obvious because we've been doing it for years and years,â?? she said.

      Kumar said most people want to learn to use Facebook to stay in contact with their family and friends, but some are learning to do basic tasks in a new way.

      â??They've all lived very full lives without having to be dependent on this technology, and suddenly you can't pay your bill through this method anymore, you can't have a church newsletter that's printed anymore,â?? she added.

      She said it's mostly about being a supervisor and that many people just want a little encouragement as they try something new.

      â??More than giving them the answer, we want to be able to help people learn how to find it out for themselves,â?? Kumar explained. â??Most of it is just building a little bit of confidence, which comes from using it more, and some of it just comes from having someone sit with you.â??

      The free, open class meets at the library from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.