. Update from the Covid-19 Working Group 27 March 2020

At the last Working Group meeting on Thursday 26 March, the Group discussed the various means for delivery of online courses during our forced isolation. Over the last couple of weeks some tutors have been using a program called Zoom to conduct trial classes. Some report resounding success, although nearly every Tutor indicated that there were areas needing refinement.  IT and the Working Group are working diligently to resolve these issues. Making sure that participants were properly connected to the program was an issue with just about every meeting called on Zoom.  All of the connectivity issues were satisfactorily resolved.  Most ‘difficulties’ arose from differing types of electronic devices used by classmates.  The obvious way to ensure everyone can be properly connected is for Tutors to run a trial of the Zoom program prior to commencement of classes proper. Conducting trials by Tutors will be addressed at a meeting of Tutors to be held on Zoom on 2 April (we avoided 1 April for obvious reasons).

Many of you may have used Facetime or Skype or Tango or similar tools to see and talk with family or friends, who are remote from you.  If you are interested, you may like to try Zoom at home, and check it out on your computer or tablet or mobile phone.  To do so, just go to zoom.us in your browser and click on Sign Up, It’s Free.  You might even like to use it to see and talk to family members or neighbours. In these times of isolation, a program of this type is an ideal way to maintain verbal and visual contact with friends and families.

Tutors are keen to continue course delivery and since online seems about the only option at the moment, we, the Tutors, are going to some interesting lengths to guarantee continuance of courses at U3APP.  While there are some limitations imposed by the Zoom program, some Tutors have found some ingenious ways of getting around those limitations. Music programs are particularly limited because the program does not allow more than one microphone to be active at any one time, hence, group singing/playing/reciting are not supported.  It does, however, lend nicely to solo presentations by Tutors and classmates. Several Tutors have adopted this approach in trial classes and report good success.

Another major consideration for Tutors establishing delivery is the myriad electronic devices used by our members: iPhones, iPads, Android phones and tablets, Apple computers, PCs and probably others.  The display of Zoom on each type of device is similar, but with a few kinks that need rectifying.  The IT group – known lovingly as Webmaster - is addressing these and other technical issues.  Dedicated souls, spearheading specific areas of concern are: Helen, Jude, Karen, Diane and Kate.  GIVE THEM A ROUND OF APPLAUSE!!! . Be assured that they are a team of VERY capable tech-savvy individuals and are working arduously to secure a system that will satisfy our requirements.  Realistically, the system should be up and running before the beginning of Term 2.  We do need your input and participation to make the system work.  You are the reason for our effort!!!!   Stay tuned!

We are in good hands, and we shall prevail!!  See you in one of the test sessions.

Jim Pribble