Zooming with Osher!
by Maria Penny, Osher Member and Facilitator of Inquiring Minds
I live in a retirement community, and management declared a lockdown on March 11, 2020, asking us to not leave our apartments for anything other than doctors’ appointments, pharmacy pickups and occasional grocery shopping.
The last three weeks of March were pretty boring. There are only so many hours of the day that you can read books, play computer games or watch TV before you get restless or bored or take a nap.
I was delighted to get Amy’s e-mail announcing that the spring semester would be having virtual classes using Zoom. Now I could resume being entertained and challenged by Osher speakers and taking part in the interesting question-and-answer periods that follow the lecture.
I had never used the Zoom app before so I read up on it and downloaded it to our desktops, tablets and smart phones. We belong to a social group that meets once a month to discuss current topics. The group met the last Friday of March using Zoom so I was able to practice entering a scheduled meeting, arranging the settings to my liking and interacting with the hosts before the first Osher class.
When the first week of classes rolled around, I selected the meetings I would attend and rearranged our daily schedule to be free at the appropriate times. I think I have attended at least 3 sessions each week since the quarter began.
It’s easy to join the meetings. I try to enter the Waiting Room a few minutes before the class starts so I can be sure my video and audio feeds are working properly. Most of the meetings go off very smoothly. Amy and Jorge work with the speaker to make sure that the slides are available to all and that the speaker’s audio feed is working properly. The only technical problems that have cropped up are with people whose audio is not good. Sometimes the volume is so loud that there are echoes, other times people are too far from the mike or have their volumes set so low that they are hard to hear.
The question periods have been working well even though there are some classes with 100 or more members signed in. People have learned how to signal when they have a question; Jorge calls on people in the order that they appear on his queue.
I am still leading the Inquiring Minds book club this spring. As I write this, we have had our first Zoom session, and it went very well. There were 16 of us logged in; we covered the material in the reading assignment with time to spare and had a lively discussion. I look forward to the rest of these sessions.
Thanks to the Curriculum Committee, Jorge and specially Amy for all the trouble they went to in making all of this possible. In these days of social distancing, it is fun to see familiar faces and interact in the Q&A after the lecture.