By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Despite COVID, learning continues at SW Tech Outreach Center
SWTC learning center in Boscobel
Adult Education Instructor Marlene Klein interacts with a student via Zoom meeting at the Southwest Wisconsin Technical College Outreach Center, located in the basement of the Boscobel Public Library.

BOSCOBEL - Despite the many pandemic related obstacles in communities across the country, the availability to learn continues.

Many have found themselves thrust into the world of technology with the lack of in person abilities these days. Often, this can be difficult, confusing, or down right annoying for some due to inexperience with technology, the internet or various programs. 

Through all of this, the Southwest Wisconsin Technical College Outreach Center in Boscobel continues to offer their free adult learning classes to help over come these barriers and get individuals get a solid grasp on their computer needs. 

The center has been open for a few years now, but as Adult Education Instructor Marlene Klein notes, “It’s one of the best kept secrets in Boscobel.” 

Previously classes were held in a smaller room at the Hildebrand Memorial Library in Boscobel. However, with the onset of COVID, the library and SWTC worked together to move the class space to the room formerly known as the Club Room, which boasts two to three times the room, allowing for better social distancing.

“The neat thing is people are able to feel secure,” Klein shared. “Southwest Tech has a great sanitizing routine and masks are required. We feel we are on top of things.” 

Klein notes that the Outreach Centers like the one in Boscobel play an important role, especially now because computers have become “a lifeline.” And knowing how to use them is not only vital for communication with family but also for jobs. 

“We are able to design programs to fit your needs,” Klein explained. “You can do just E-mail, just Zoom, whatever you need.” Klein also added that people have come in to receive help with virtual applications for jobs as well as improve their skill sets with computers to further their careers. 

“Many students who have learned new skills through the programs are now not afraid to explore work in new fields,” Klein noted. 

Some of the most popular programs held at the outreach centers include those to learn about Microsoft Excel and Quickbooks. But others also include Introduction to Ipads, Digital Photography, Facebook, Zoom and more. 

The Adult Basic Education  (ABE) courses that are offered are not limited to various computer courses. According to SWTC Website in the ABE program adults can:

• Gain reading, writing, mathematics, thinking, speaking and listening skills

• Gain the necessary skills to meet entrance requirements for a vocational and technical post secondary education. 

• Study to pass the GED or High School Equivalency Diploma

• Obtain critical thinking skills needed to meet the challenges in our changing world

• Improve academic performance to be able to pass the placement testing.

This is of course just a sampling of what is available to learners through the Outreach Centers. English as a second language, business and industry services, Spanish in the workplace and more are available through the college. 

Another thing of note is the fact that these centers are available for adults of all ages. 

“We have a group of ladies who have been taking classes for a few years for the love of learning and to help keep them sharp,” Klein noted. “The oldest one is 90 years old. They seem to really love participating, especially Zoom, and they feel it also helps keep them connected.” As part of the course work, the groups need to do projects with the program they’re working with. Klein noted that the projects can end up being very practical and helpful for people in everyday life, such as utilizing Excel to inventory things in your home (or freezer) and learning how to effectively organize and manage your digital photo collection.

 “The computer classes are our most popular,” Klein shared. “We had a husband and wife come in as students because they wanted to learn to do their own books. They are a small business and they wanted to gain those skills to take more control over their business. It’s a good example of being able to learn those skills to fit your specific needs. It’s very personalized and there is also no cost!”

Through the help of grant money many of these courses are available free of charge. Individuals participating are asked to do a pre and post test and to make an appointment. Currently with COVID guidelines the space can accommodate seven people in house but Zoom classes and testing are also available. 

To learn more or to schedule a class individuals can call the Boscobel Outreach Center at 375-5873 and leave a message. Or they can contact SWTC directly and ask for more information about the Outreach Center. 

The Boscobel Outreach Center is open Mondays from 5 until 7:30 p.m., Tuesdays from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. and Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m.