About learning stories

Jim Wilson, President of U3A Adelaide suggested this page in mid march 2020 when the Box Factory was closed, to provide a place where members can continue to share the stories they normally tell one another face to face, to continue the central purpose of the organ­isa­tion — learning.

What sort of stories? Observations on the impact of the shutdown, how it makes us interact differ­ently, how you are occupying your time. How we interact differ­ently with family and friends. How we can learn differ­ently. Stories must conform with the U3A Code of Conduct (see About Us). See Contributing in the side-bar for details.

Zoom Cheese & drinks

by Helen Bills

Our wine and cheese party last night via Zoom was great fun.

We are using Zoom to have virtual gath­er­ings with family and friends two or three days a week. You can also use Skype or FaceTime (Apple) in the same way.

In the interests of social distan­cing we exchanged cheese, half bottles of wine and cake via an esky at our front door so we both had the same food and wine and could discuss just as we would at a face to face gathering. No driving home required so the wine flowed freely, bubbles, white wine then red wine then stagger!
Roger and Helen Bills and their drinking pals.

The ZOOM app is free. If it’s 1 on 1 (which our party was) then time is unlimited, 3 — 100 parti­cipants you have 40 minutes.

I down­loaded the FREE app, ZOOM Cloud Meetings,  from the Apple App Store onto my mini iPad. Then I opened and followed the prompts. I’m sure there is an android equi­valent. You can also get an app on a computer, with a bigger screen.

If you use a laptop, put it on a few books so the camera doesn’t look up your nose!

There are a lot of tutorials on YouTube, but if you try it out with friends it is not hard to work out. A phone call can sort it out if necessary.

Do your friend a favour with just in time computer help

by John Travers

The current health crisis is making one thing very clear. If you have poor computer skills you are going to be at an increasing disad­vantage. The avail­ab­ility of the internet is one of the saving graces of the ‘stay at home’ rule. It allows us to keep informed, keep in touch with friends and family and go about our daily business. For example, Supermarkets are setting up large scale home delivery services aimed at the elderly and disabled people. These services depend on online ordering. 

I have been a computer nerd for a long time and in recent years have been taking classes for mainly elderly people in how to use the iPad and iPhone. My customers are a very diverse group. They all have the initi­ative to seek out help from a class. They are largely women. Men seem reluctant to seek help. Some are confident in them­selves and soak up new inform­a­tion. Many lack confid­ence in their own ability. Many say that getting help from their children and grand­chil­dren is frus­trating. The helpers, they say, are in a hurry and tend to take over and then disappear. I suspect that often the learner only seeks help when in a critical situation, so are frus­trated and angry. Not a good learning situation.

If you are reading this article you are probably quite good at using the internet, because you have found your way here. You no doubt have friends who have quite poor skills and who are left out of conver­sa­tions about getting inform­a­tion from the internet, finding enter­tain­ment and using tech­no­logy to keep in touch with family. I urge people to intervene to help friends who lack skills. This means gently prodding people to learn. Often people don’t know what is possible. 

The trouble with classes like mine is that they pack a lot of inform­a­tion into a session which can be over­whelming. The best learning is ‘just in time’ learning. When there is an immediate need and and oppor­tunity to have support. So if you find a friend who doesn’t know how to do something, it is doing them a real favour to intervene and test whether they are willing to learn and be there to provide it. Following up later is valuable because the learner has had a chance to try the skill by them­selves then get help if they ran into a problem. Just in time learning with follow-up  is powerful. 

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.

Becoming colourful

by John Travers

This is a modest practical contri­bu­tion, that popped up in my email yesterday. The website MyHeritage which hosts a gigantic collec­tion of family trees recently offered members a tool to colorize (US spelling!) photos. So I gave it a go, and it is very impressive. The photos below show the effect: my paren’t wedding in 1933.

Generally the colour is very realistic. The news yesterday was that MyHeritage is making this service available free for an unlimited number of photos. So, if you have time on your hands and black and white photos, you can go to myheritage.com join up and give it a try. You might also be inspired to create an online family tree.