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.
There have been reports that Flinders University does not allow Zoom on its system. It appears that Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and UniSA are all using zoom extensively.
Zoom has upgraded its procedures and now the default setting is for people coming into a meeting to go into a waiting room where the host admits them, checking their name. The latest upgrade to Zoom 5.1 includes increased encryption and Roger Bills advises members to check that they have the latest upgrade. To check if you have the latest, do the following.
Open your account button (top right, with green dot) and go to Check for Updates.
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.
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!
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.
How necessity drives innovation faster than technology
by John Travers
In mid May our lives were turned slightly upside-down by the world pandemic. I started to set up a video meeting with a group of men I regularly meet with and someone suggested that Zoom was better than Skype. I did a quick look at reviews and found that Skype was similar and better known. A week later several other people mentioned Zoom so I thought I had better have a look at it. Within a week I was a regular Zoom user and since then have hosted or taken part in multiple meetings of our Old Men Group, my wife’s discussion group, my book club, my wife’s tennis group, a class I conducted on Apple Photos, and another on writing a blog. U3A’s next Board meeting will be via Zoom. Our grandchildren are now spending their full school day online, in class. As one ruefully commented, “The teachers seem to think we have nothing else to do.”
As a long time promoter of technology in education through by work and in retirement this is a quite amazing change. Have people suddenly decided that technology is wonderful? Has the technology suddenly got better? No to both questions. Necessity has pushed us forward, and don’t have an doubt that it is forward.
The members of my Old Men’s group and of my wife’s tennis group are not all technology enthusiasts, but they have been presented with a choice: do you want to maintain face to face contact with your friends even though it might mean some technological discomfort? The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, not because everyone found it stress free, but it seems that all have found it a satisfying experience once they get over the initial awkwardness. Our book club has met for years and had very good discussions — and long argumentative lunches. But last week’s meeting was generally thought to be one of our best discussions ever, via Zoom, and as a bonus, a couple of people who could not attend were sent an audio of the discussion. I missed the lunch, though.
“You can get a personal Zoom introduction from Roger by enrolling in Come Zoom with Me.”
So, from this very short history I think that the lesson is that necessity, opportunity and a bit of confidence take us forward. A considerable proportion of U3A members have been using Skype or FaceTime to talk to their children and grandchildren for some time. Many have in the last month taken the next step into group video meetings. Give it a go. Experiment with someone who can help. Humans like to talk and interact, and these tools help.
A number of classes at U3A are thriving with Zoom. U3A Board has agreed to pay for licences for the extended time version of Zoom for tutors who need it. There is a very simple guide to getting started in Learning Stories A Guide to Zoom, below on this blog, . There is a much more detailed guide by Roger Bills at Come Zoom with Me, in Course Notes. And more important, you can get a personal Zoom introduction from Roger by enrolling in the course, Come Zoom with Me.
I first heard of Zoom on the 22nd of March, which we all know is a very long time ago. Since then I have found out that it is an internet phenomenon that has become the dominant video meeting service, crucial for family, friends and business communication during the Coronavirus crisis. I have hosted a dozen or so meetings of family and friends and it is very easy to use and very powerful. However this ease of use has led to some security weaknesses and Zoom has now changed its rules to shut the door to many of the vandals and nuisances who live on the internet. It enables a host to schedule a meeting, send invitations by email and have the meeting in progress with everyone able to see and hear everyone else within five minutes.
A guide to getting connected.
How does one get started? First, download the Zoom App on your computer or tablet from zoom.us. It is a good idea to sign in and create an account but not essential to do so. Your Zoom identity is your emal. Without an account you cannot host a meeting. You actually don’t have to download the app in advance. Once you accept an invitation the app will download it automatically, but it is more efficient to to so in advance.
To initiate a meeting a host opens the app and clicks New Meeting usually to begin some pre-arranged time. Then the host clicks Invite, selects Email as the means of inviting , and adds the addresses of the invitees, just like any email.
When the meeting members Jill, receives her invitation she are asked to click the link at the top of the email. This opens her Zoom app, and in a minute or two she is asked to wait for the host to admit her. She is also asked to choose her audio input (Internet Audio) and she also switches her camera on.
Meanwhile, the host sees a notice that Jill is ready to to join the meeting clicks Accept. And the meeting can begin when all the invitees are onboard.
The computer menu (above) and iPad menu (below) show the Mic and Camera on/off switches. If you don’t see the menu, move the mouse over the screen. The Gallery view is best, which shows all the participants side by side. The tablet menu is essentially the same, but at the top of the screen.
A most valuable feature is that individuals can share their desktop screen, so can show others in a meeting documents and images and point to and talk about these. Very powerful explaining and teaching.