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Free Digital Workforce Training Now Available through Burlington’s Fletcher Free Library!

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Robert Coleburn at the Fletcher FreeLibrarian Robert Coleburn at the Computer Center of the Fletcher Free Library in Burlington.

Last year, we launched the cutting-edge Microsoft IT Academy Program ® (ITA) for any person who applies to CCV as a regular or continuing education student and who then goes to the Rutland facility to register for the ITA program. And, last month, we announced that Vermont residents and visitors in other parts of the state are able to access these courses for free at any of the 12 Community College of Vermont locations.

Now, these courses are also available through the Fletcher Free Library in Burlington, where the free digital workforce training is expected to have a significant impact, due to the large population of Chittenden County.

I recently asked Robert Coleburn, the librarian at Fletcher Free to explain why he was so eager to host one of the three Microsoft ITA licenses that were made possible through the Vermont Digital Economy Project. Here’s what he said:

We would like to open up this free online training to as many Vermonters as possible, in order to take advantage of this excellent learning opportunity. That’s why we have made it easy for people in the greater Burlington area to register for access to the Microsoft IT Academy.


Our library has been in the digital literacy business for over 10 years now. Offering online courses like this seems like a natural extension of what we already do. We already offer a host of in person classes at the library. Now, we’re really pleased to offer online classes through Microsoft.

At Fletcher Free, it’s always been our mission to provide not only access to computers, something we do through our computer center, but also technology training. Access to training is a very important element necessary to bridge the digital divide. People sometimes forget that there are two prongs to the digital divide: access and training. And, it’s training that is generally much more difficult to solve, because it is so labor intensive.

We are fortunately to have been hosting an Internet Intern to serve our patrons for three years. Now, we are able to provide everyone in the greater Burlington area who wants it access to digital courses.

In preparation for offering the Microsoft ITA online courses through the library, Robert has set up learning plans. These are groups of similar courses that he believes will be of the most interest to patrons of the library in Burlington. Once registered with him, a patron can take as many online courses in a learning plan as they desire and also sign up for more than one learning plan.

The current plans available are:

  • Digital Skills, includes a suite of 13 beginner level courses on how to use computers with such important topics as computer security, how to find information on the Internet, resume writing, and using social media networks.
  • Office 2013 Essentials, includes 11 courses with at least one on dealing with each of the multiple different programs in the Microsoft Office suite, including Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Visio.
  • Outlook 2010, includes 3 different levels of courses dealing with the popular email program Outlook.
  • Access 2010, includes 3 different levels of courses dealing with the database program Access.
  • PowerPoint 2010, includes 3 different levels of courses dealing with the presentation program PowerPoint.
  • Excel 2010, which includes 3 different levels of courses dealing with the spreadsheet program Excel.
  • Word 2010, which includes 3 different levels of courses dealing with the word processing program Word.

All of the Microsoft courses are online and need to be accessed from a computer with Internet access, using Internet Explorer. You can do that on one of your own devices or on a public computer. For the convenience of residents in the Burlington area who register for and receive a Computer User Card, the Fletcher Free Library has extensive Computer Center hours, as follows: Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10:00am-06:00pm; Tuesday and Wednesday from 10:00am-08:00pm, and Sunday from 12:00pm-06:00pm.

In order to register for Microsoft IT Academy online courses through the Fletcher Free Library, please follow the helpful registration guide, available here.

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