A changing U3A?

by John Travers

A tale of a neglected veranda that made good

We have lived in our house since 1976. It has a nice veranda which we have rarely used. But over the last five weeks (due to you know what) we have had our morning coffee there, saying g’day to passing people, and watching the honeyeaters zooming around the garden. Out of necessity, we have also safely hosted visitors on the veranda for a coffee and precious personal contact. It is very pleasant out there. Who knew!

Of necessity, in a similar fashion, U3A Adelaide has since early April adapted a number of courses to be delivered online and created another batch of new online courses. Out of curiosity, I spent a little time recently exploring other U3As around Australia to see how they have adapted to Corona-19. I did a search for u3a and zoom — the now famous video meeting app. The first three results were Port Phillip which is offering about ten Zoom based courses. Melbourne City and Deepdene (Melbourne) have converted a majority of their courses for the year to be delivered by Zoom, a quite remark­able trans­form­a­tion. It seems that they both decided to be proactive, put together a team to help train tutors to adapt to the new, and made the change. As the restric­tions on social contact reduce, no doubt they will return to a largely face-to-face U3A, but I suspect not entirely, because there are some advant­ages in not having to travel to a class and be able to engage with each other by video. Attendance will probably improve online.

Zoom

In the same way that necessity led my wife and I to discover our front veranda, necessity has caused us to look for different ways to do the business of U3A. Our family has for years kept children and grand­chil­dren in close touch by video, while inter­state and overseas. I had never thought of it as a practical tool for group instruc­tion and discus­sion because the available tools weren’t good enough. Now they are. Interesting how necessity creates oppor­tun­ities!

Comments are open on this post