. Covid-19 Working Group Update 30 May 2020

Report on our Tutor Update & Thank You Meeting 29 May 2020

by Jim Pribble, Committee of Management, Covid-19 Working Group

The time:  44 BC;  

Place:  on a prominent street in Rome

A Voice from the crowd:  “Caesar”

Caesar:  “Ha!  Who calls?”

Soothsayer:  “Caesar, beware the Ides of March!”

Caesar:  “Say that again!”

Soothsayer:  “Caesar, beware the Ides of March!”

And so it came to pass on the Ides of March (give or take a day or two) that the Committee of Management (CoM) suspended all course delivery by U3APP.

The Tutor Update meeting, hosted by Jim Pribble and attended by 45 Tutors and other U3APP representatives, was opened by an address by the President of U3APP, Graham Gosling.  He briefly discussed the current state of affairs and then reported on the several meetings he has attended as a representative of U3APP.  The central message Graham presented is that U3APP is well ahead of many other U3As with our implementation of a recovery plan which quickly allowed resumption of coursework.  Graham indicated that the task of bringing the Mary Kehoe Centre up to the standard required for the resumption of face-to-face courses, i.e. suitable for our demographic and susceptibility to COVID-19, meeting social spacing constraints and catering for multiple groups using the Centre, will be difficult and perhaps costly.  Port Phillip Council is predicting a shortfall of some $42 million, so funding will be an additional burden in attaining access to the facilities (not just MKC, but SMCC, Sol Green, and other venues).

Pam Caven, Deputy President and member of the U3APP COVID-19 Working Group, wove the facts spanning from the Ides of March to the present. Guiding principles adopted by the Working Group (WG) were

  • Although all coursework ceased on 16 March, WG was determined to re-establish coursework at the beginning of Term 2 (which started 4 weeks after shutdown)
  • Guarding the health and safety of our members
  • Facilitating the continuing involvement of members of U3APP through learning and friendship and
  • Maintaining a strong relationship with the Committee of Management.

In the interval between shut-down and beginning of Term 2, most of the pre-closure courses were ready for rebirth online. Numerically, just to bore you with statistics:

  • 70% of Term 1 courses converted either to Zoom or e-mails and continued at the start of Term 2
  • 70% of our members are currently enrolled in courses either using Zoom or e-mails
  • 70% of our course attendance has been retained.

More statistics for those not yet screaming from the torture:

The WG recently conducted a survey of Tutors with the following outcomes:

  • 50% of our 2020 tutors responded to the survey (many of the non-responders have opted to not deliver coursework on Zoom, but will resume tutoring when we again can meet face-to-face)
  • 66% said their online course was working well and the remainder reported that results were OK
  • 55% said moving into online delivery was easy while 45% said it was a bit of a challenge
  • 75% said U3APP support (particularly IT) has been exceptional
  • Tutors report that 50% of their class participants are enthusiastic while the remainder said they were appreciative.

Selected Tutors were then asked to comment on their experiences regarding course delivery since conversion to online delivery.  This segment allowed tutors to discuss how they made the transition to online delivery and to present objectively (warts and all) on their courses and how their methodology/expectations were changed.

Presenters were:

  • Claude Miller (Language-French e-mail & Zoom combination),
  • Greg Woodford (Language-Zoom-Beginner and Intermediate Spanish),
  • Minuk Richards (Music –Zoom-Beginner & Beaut Ukes),
  • Julie Smith (Exercise-Zoom-Yoga),
  • Linda Condon (Art-Zoom-painting),
  • Helen Vorrath (Literature-Zoom-Shakespeare).

The floor was then opened to comment/discussion from the wider audience.  There were many astute observations and comments received and shared among participants.

Everyone at the meeting went away with an enhanced appreciation of Zoom and the many uses/capabilities it has to offer.  We thank all the participants for taking part in these discussions.  Comments from the ‘floor’ were direct and illuminating.

Thank you all for making the meeting successful.

Finally, it is the hope and wish of the Working Group to host a face-face meeting with all tutors (in fact all members) to celebrate surviving COVID-19 by having a hot/cold, brown, white or red beverage of your choice along with a sandwich and/or sausage roll.

In conclusion: The Working Group thanks the Tutors for their dedication and perseverance and the volunteers in the IT grouping without whom none of this would have come to pass!! Also for special mention – Ann Gibson and Margaret Byron for maintaining and reporting the myriad changes to course scheduling.

Thanks again to all who made this, in my opinion, a great success!!!!!  WE DID IT!

COVID-19 Working Group

Pam, Diane and Jim