E-News May 2020
All Senior College summer “bricks and mortar” classes are cancelled this year. Please look for several online classes on the website in the near future. We hope to start “Zooming.”
On the Job!
Members of the Senior College board at their April meeting, using “Zoom,” a video conferencing tool.
Sometimes one writes a Newsletter to stay in touch; sometimes one writes a Newsletter to just say Hi; sometimes one writes a Newsletter to announce new opportunities; sometimes one writes a Newsletter to announce a tweak in how things are done – and sometimes a Newsletter does all those things. This is one of those Newsletters.
In the past few weeks your Board of Trustees has met many times to discuss and plan how our Senior College could best serve our members during this historic, stressful and opportunity filled time. We discussed – what do our members need, what should we do and what can we do. Many topics and paths were explored and are still being explored, but in the end it comes down to working within the confines of our mission and our resources. Fortunately, we do have many resources to draw on. Most notably our vibrant membership and a raft of dedicated and talented instructors.
There have been many questions raised about cancellations. Here’s the status so far:
- 2020 SPRING SEMESTER – ALL IN PERSON COURSES CANCELLED
- ONLINE COURSES ARE IN THE WORKS
- 2020 SUMMER SEMESTER – IN PERSON COURSES CANCELLED
- ONLINE COURSES ARE IN THE WORKS
- 2020 FALL SEMESTER – NO CANCELLATION SO FAR, BUT THE SITUATION IS REVIEWED DAILY.
Note: We really had no choice with these decisions as the Hutchinson Center has closed.
We should say here that all our decisions (to cancel or not) will be made with the utmost concern for the health and welfare of our members. Senior College will continue to thrive, and to expand, and to enrich our lives long after a few cancellations.
Above, I mentioned that despite the stress of this time, it is also an opportunity filled time. Your board has set a course whereby Senior College will continue to offer courses, but in a different format. We’re going to save you some gas money! As you read this, Senior College instructors are being trained to teach courses via Zoom Technology broadcast directly to your home. We are more than pleased to tell you that we have worked with the University of Maine and the Hutchinson Center to provide training and support for us to deliver our courses.
Soon you will receive an announcement of online courses to be offered later this Spring. There will be a learning curve, and we will start with low numbers of attendees so any kinks can be worked out, but this will work. In another part of this Newsletter Nancy Perkins, our Chair of Curriculum, will have more details for you. Nancy has put in many, many hours to get this project running and her dedication is paying off.
What Senior College online courses can provide is interaction between you, the teacher and your fellow classmates. Talk to each other, meet new friends – ask “How are you doing?” Get the instructor off topic like you used to do in school! It can be fun! Try it once and you’ll be hooked! Further along these lines are discussions which recognize this new method of delivering courses will help us bring our courses to people that may not be able to come to the Hutch – those in nursing homes, assisted living centers, etc.
In closing I have to thank our Board of Trustees, staff and everyone associated with the college who are contributing and serving in these troubled times. Without wonderful, dedicated people we would not have a Senior College. In the meantime – wash your hands, stay safe and take care.
The first Zoom meeting of the Curriculum Committee since the obligatory shut down was well attended. After an initial discussion we determined that the Committee will move forward with two major objectives for the Fall Session: Creating a curriculum based on a return to regularly held classes at the Hutchinson Center, and considering the possibility that we must plan for online classes in case we cannot hold “brick and mortar” classes. (Note: Nine our Spring Session Instructors indicated that they could teach the announced Spring Course at the Hutchinson Center in the Fall).
We are recommending that we begin as soon as possible to offer online classes using Zoom and that we attempt to schedule training for Instructors. Our first foray into online instruction should be gratis and open to all Senior College members in the state with a limited number of class registrations. However, it was recommended that future classes should have a fee attached to be determined by the Finance Committee. It was also a recommendation that courses offered during the summer be abbreviated ones not lasting more than an hour or two at the most.
Following the approval of the Board of Directors that we move forward with this initiative, a Zoom training session was scheduled with Staff of the Hutchinson Center. Twenty-five potential Instructors registered for the course. Short training films were emailed to participants and these can be found on our website. I highly recommend you take a look at them before joining a Zoom class. They are short, to the point, extremely helpful, and demonstrate how easily one can learn to use Zoom.
In addition, look for several online classes on the website in the near future so we can all start “Zooming.” But remember you will have to bring your own cookie and drink!
Nancy Perkins, Chair