Category Archives: Current observations

What is a Webinar?

The term Webinar has been around for a while, meaning a ‘web seminar’. Now, with the pandemic and improved tech­no­logy they have leapt in import­ance. Essentially a webinar is a well organised web meeting, commonly used by companies and organ­isa­tions to get inform­a­tion to large groups. For our AGM we will use a webinar licence from Zoom to have a meeting of up to 100 people. An email invit­a­tion will go out in advance inviting regis­tra­tion for the meeting. Members complete this simple form and that’s it. Each will get a zoom invit­a­tion on the day.

In the webinar there can be a number of ‘panelists’ who appear via video and present inform­a­tion and visuals if necessary. Participants will be able to send chat comments and questions and they will be able to vote on resol­u­tions.

Those who do not want to parti­cipate from home will be able to attend a group zoom at the Box Factory. There will not be any wine and food, but there is talk of the Board organ­ising Uber-Eats to deliver these to each parti­cipant’s home.

Tutor Meeting: what we said

Summary of the Tutors discus­sion via Zoom, May 7 *

*This is the final version of the summary origin­ally posted on May 8

Last week’s Board meeting (via Zoom) agreed to an invit­a­tion to Tutors to take part in a meeting via Zoom on coping with the shutdown. Nearly 30 met via Zoom nearly two hours. The following is a summary of the meeting.

It is unlikely that U3A will be back to normal for some months. The risk to elderly people in small rooms will deter members from returning to classes for some time, even when this is permitted. Room 4 has space for social distan­cing.

A modest number of estab­lished courses have continued since the shutdown with a majority of these using Zoom video meetings as their main platform. A small number of new online courses have opened with all but one using Zoom. There were strong support of the use of Zoom by tutors who have used it sofar. It is relat­ively easy to learn and parti­cipate. Some members are quite resistant to using it, and felt threatened by tech­no­logy. Some tutors find that Zoom is not suited to their class. In general newcomers to zoom quickly become comfort­able with it and enjoy the inter­ac­tion. Members should be encour­aged to join the class Come Zoom With Me which provides an indi­vidual intro­duc­tion to Zoom. 

It is likely that in the long term at U3A there will be a mixture of face-to-face course and online ones and hybrid classes

U3A should actively promote online learning and assist tutors (current and future) to manage classes online. It would be a good idea to have a forum or collec­tion of helpful comments, guides etc on how to use Zoom, and other means, effect­ively and effi­ciently… using the website.  [Done: see  Zooming category on this blog].

U3A should invest­igate getting a Business subscrip­tion to Zoom which may be cheaper than paying indi­vidual licences. 

An extensive tutorial was provided on the online enrolment and member­ship system, demon­strating how tutors can display enrol­ments, email a list and generally manage their class. Tutors were also reminded of the detailed guides for tutors and members that are on the website.

by John Travers

Viral Virus Video

from Roger Bills

It seems some people have been spending their voluntary isolation making brilliant virus versions of some great songs.

Here are just a few you might like to listen to.  For those of us in the “For the Record” class these would surely be must-listen-to un-cover versions.

1:  Les Mis (Apologies to Les Mis)

2:  A very model of a Covid Isolationist (Apologies to G&S

3:  Mamma  (Bohemian Rhapsody, apologies to Queen)

Listen, laugh and enjoy.

What I learned from my 7 week China lockdown

To everyone who is feeling the fear — have a read of this. It came from a teacher in China who has been there since the start of the crisis, and is well worth a read. Jim Wilson

It has been a while since my last post when we were in ‘lock-down’ in China and since I’ve had a few emails recently, I think it’s probably time to update everyone.

We are allowed to move around freely now with a green QR code that we show when we get our temper­ature taken. You get your temper­ature taken every­where, and it’s just become part of the routine. Most restaur­ants and shopping centres are now open, and life is coming back to our city.

As we watch the rest of the world begin their time inside; here are some of my reflec­tions on the last seven weeks:

1. Accept that you have no control over the situation. Let go of any thoughts of trying to plan too much for the next month or two. Things change so fast. Don’t be angry and annoyed at the system. Anxiety goes down, and you make the best of the situation — whatever that might be for you. Accept that this is what it is and things will get easier.

2. Try not to listen to/read/watch too much media. It WILL drive you crazy. There is a thing as too much!

3. The sense of community I have felt during this time is incred­ible. I could choose who I wanted to spend my energy on — who I wanted to call, message and connect with and found the quality of my rela­tion­ships has improved.

4. Appreciate this enforced downtime. When do you ever have time like this? I will miss it when we go back to the fast-paced speed of the ‘real world’.

5. Time goes fast. I still haven’t picked up the ukelele I planned to learn, and there are box set TV shows I haven’t yet watched.

6. As a teacher, the rela­tion­ships I have built with my students have only continued to grow. I have loved seeing how inde­pendent they are; filming them­selves to respond to tasks while also learning essential life skills such as balance, risk-taking and problem-solving, that even we as adults are still learning.

To those just beginning this journey, You will get through it. Listen to what you are told, follow the rules and look out for each other. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

Hansbury Educational Consulting

COVID-19 – a Taiwan experience

by Roger Bills

Perhaps the best time ever to tour Taiwan was early March this year, returning one day before the 14 day quar­antine order!  We had the place virtually, if not literally, to ourselves.  Places where crowds were normally 10 deep with tourists were almost empty.  Palaces and museums espe­cially were crowd-free.

However, roadside eating and restaur­ants were well patron­ised by locals.  So one might expect Taiwan to be riddled with free-floating viruses.  Not so, in fact Taiwan with its popu­la­tion of close to that of Australia, in an area 1/215th that of the land of Oz, had fewer cases than, for instance, NSW.

As I write infection and death rates for the 2 countries are:

Taiwan:216 cases, 2 deaths.
Australia: 2317 cases, 10 deaths
Crikey, the good old Diamond Princess liner had a total 712 cases, 10 deaths

So we are entitled to ask, ”Why is this near China neighbour so much safer?”. The answer is twofold:  Firstly, they were prepared, having learnt from the SARS outbreaking 2003.  Secondly, they acted early and widely.

Everywhere we went our temper­at­ures were measured, initially by people pointing little pistol-like ther­mo­meters at every forehead and later as tech­no­logy jumped a gener­a­tion, by automatic TV style screening of every person entering.  And then there was sanit­ising spray on-hand every­where.  Every building was manned by temper­ature takers and hand sanit­isers. Further, in our hotels, a cleaner was on constant duty disin­fecting the lifts and entrances.

Clearly these proactive measures seem to have worked, given the infection and death rates above.

As a side comment, on arriving in Melbourne there were: No temper­at­ures being monitored. No hand sanit­isers anywhere. Let alone with a desig­nated airport official. But there was a photo­copied A4 sheet taped to a wall saying to use your facemask (which no-one had). From what we had become accus­tomed to, it was just slack. The big message from all this is that, as soon as it is possible, go visit Taiwan.  It’s virally safer than home and the sooner you depart, the smaller the competing crowds.

Alternatively, tour Kangaroo Island now and stay tuned.  Taiwan is likely to be on the Holiday Shorts program next January.  Helen is already working on an exquisite present­a­tion.