University thrives through adversity

October 8, 2020 BY

Annie Hepner teaching U3A Surf Coast's Yoga Class through Zoom.

TUTORS and students at the University of the Third Age (U3A) Surf Coast have transitioned to virtual learning with great results.

U3A Surf Coast committee member Barry Cock took on the responsibility of serving as the groups Zoom administrator, teaching tutors and students how to use the platform.

U3A provides learning for semi-retired and retired people. Mr Cock said he was therefore surprised how well members transitioned to virtual learning.

“The tutors have been absolutely fantastic. We had tutors who didn’t know anything about Zoom who stuck their hands up to give it a go,” Mr Cock said.

“For most people it’s been a magical experience. We’ve had people who knew just about nothing about computers suddenly becoming very confident with them.”

Due to the high uptake in virtual classes from both tutors and students, U3A will be running 13 classes.

Among these is a Yoga Class that Annie Hepner tutors. Ms Hepner said she was uncertain how effective running the class via Zoom would be but decided to commit to trying it regardless.

“I did have reservations at first. But I come from a nursing background, so I felt it was really important people maintain their yoga and meditation for their health,” said Ms Hepner.

“I was also using some online platforms for work as well, so I thought, ‘well, I’ve got to get used to this, so I might as well throw myself in’.”

Cinema Studies tutor Nick Harvey said he felt virtual gatherings had not only been a good substitute to meeting in person but had proved to be a “far superior” way for the class to run.

“A situation that might well have ended the class has instead taken it to the next level,” Mr Harvey said.

“We used to run sessions for two hours in Prime Street. But now we let the students know ahead of time what the film is, and they watch it in their own time. Then we meet through Zoom and talk for about an hour.”

Mr Harvey said he had been impressed by a lot of the discussions the group has had over Zoom.

“Some people are a bit shy speaking in person but seem to be a bit more confident over Zoom.

Mr Cock said he observed the class was also in invaluable social outlet for its students.

“Listening into that class, they just have a laugh every week. If you think people being lockdown in COVID, and they’re getting to have a laugh once a week, it’s worth millions. It’s very gratifying.”

People can sign up for U3A Surf Coast classes by heading to u3asurfcoast.org.au.