Get free help with electronic gadgets and computer programs

Weigle Commons electronic help

Using the latest Apple contraption or Microsoft Office program can be intimidating and frustrating for the technologically challenged, but the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center offers free workshops to assist those who are less electronically inclined.

The David B. Weigle Information Commons (WIC), located on the first floor of Van Pelt, offers nearly 30 electronic and computer-assistance clinics each month for Penn students, faculty and staff. Many of the workshops focus on popular software programs such as Microsoft Excel and Adobe Photoshop.

WIC Director Anu Vedantham says the most popular seminar focuses on Excel, a spreadsheet application used for storing, organizing and manipulating data. “I think it’s a topic that people are nervous about and they want someone to walk them through it,” she says.

WIC also offers instructional sessions on newer media and cutting-edge electronic devices such smart phones and the iPad.

“We did a series about the iPad and people came to see if it’s something they wanted to buy,” Vedantham says.

Van Pelt staffers teach most of the workshops but guest presenters from other departments occasionally serve as session leaders. Elizabeth Scheyder of School of Arts and Sciences Computing led a workshop on Google sites, and Chia-Ying Pan of the Weingarten Learning Resources Center gave tips on using PowerPoint.
WIC also offers custom and group training workshops. Staff and faculty departments can reserve time for sessions at the Commons. Vedantham says faculty members have taken classes on the Blackboard education system and have also brought students to receive training on iMovie and Photoshop for class projects.

For a complete list of workshops, to sign up for a class or to suggest a topic for a class, visit the WIC webpage at


Originally published on November 11, 2010