"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.”
The COVID 19 virus swooped on us like a tornado, sending things asunder and depositing the debris in strange and interesting places. Our regimented series of classes at U3APP was rudely interrupted and placed into suspension for an unspecified period. Face-to-face instruction was no longer allowed so as to prevent the disease being transmitted throughout U3A. Committee of Management (CoM) had several critical choices to make regarding the future of the organisation:
- Put the whole organisation into hibernation until such time as the “coast-is-clear” and classes can be safely delivered (timeframe unknown)
- Adopt and adapt an online teleconferencing program and deliver courses over the internet and use e-mails as a backup
- Do nothing.
Being the proactive organisation that is U3APP, CoM decided to investigate online delivery, so a Working Group comprising members from the Executive, Information Technology (IT) and Course Co-ordination (CCT-Tutor Support) was established to investigate the issues involved and to recommend/implement a program to establish the course framework for the University (after approval by CoM, of course).
Input was sought and received from Tutors as well as anyone in the organisation who wished to make a contribution to the cause. Tutors were asked whether they intended to continue/start their course and how they expected to deliver the course (ZOOM, e-mail, written material or some combination of these). The response to online (ZOOM and e-mail delivery) was overwhelmingly positive. Some tutors responded that online delivery was not suitable for their proposed courses.
We now have a road forward to get course delivery starting on 14 April, the beginning of 2nd Term. The process has been accomplished in less than 4 weeks –amazing!!
In simple terms, IT and CCT will establish the schedule for the various classes by setting the day and hour of the course (identical to the schedule proposed by the Tutors). We do not need be concerned about room numbers as participants will be in virtual classrooms (The Mary Kehoe Centre is currently closed and will remain so until the Port Phillip Council lifts restrictions on public buildings).
IT will set up the meeting schedules on ZOOM for all of the classes so tutors need not devote time and energy to those issues. More instructions for tutors and participants will follow soon.
In the meantime, I suggest that EVERYONE download ZOOM to their computers (go to zoom.us in your browser and download the free version of the program). More information is available on the U3APP website. Become familiar with the program so that when your online class starts you will know how to join and participate in festivities.