Given the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, part of this year’s annual member survey was devoted to addressing an issue of immediate relevance: whether members would be interested in online classes. The Bard College campus has been closed, and we don’t know when we will be able to hold classes there. As a result, Council felt the need to explore alternative ways of maintaining the learning opportunities and community fostered by Bard LLI. Online learning has become an increasingly popular and flexible option in many schools, and the tech team was willing to assess different online platforms. First, however, it was important to determine whether members are interested in trying online classes.
Of the 202 members who completed the survey, 67% said they had not used the online resources recently shared by LLI. When asked about online classes for SummerFest and fall, however, the responses told a different story. A majority of members were definitely or somewhat interested. Some of the varied and occasionally unexpected responses, both for and against the possibility, are shown here.
When members were asked whether they would be interested in registering for online classes for SummerFest, 39% said definitely yes, 18% said maybe, and 44% said no.
- Seems online is the only thing we can do now.
- If the courses are interesting, I will probably join online.
- I missed the spring classes. I’d look forward to some structured learning.
- Any way I can stay connected.
- It’s the only ‘safe’ way to conduct LLI courses.
- It would depend on the offered courses.
- I would love to attend courses online in June.
- I’d rather do online when life with the virus is so unpredictable.
- Online is not just the best option, but the ONLY option.
- It may be very welcome in case we are still severely sequestered.
- It may be better for me, living in Poughkeepsie, as I am often reluctant to drive to Bard for just one or two classes.
- Depends on the time of them. Whenever the weather is nice, quite honestly, I am spending time outside on my property.
- Not really interested in online courses at all.
- More interested in group interaction.
- I have participated in the course I registered for that is being offered online. It’s okay but wouldn’t do another.
- Overwhelmed with online options.
- I’m getting tired of looking at screens.
- As a presenter, I find it difficult to present my material online.
- Not really interested in online courses at all.
- By June, I hope to be outside in my gardens as much as possible.
- Don’t assume that everyone knows how to access online content.
- Presenters have to be so much more engaging with an online program. It is the discussions among LLI members in class that really make the material come alive.
- Let’s have some practice sessions to get folks comfortable with the tech.
- I would prefer interactive Zoom-type meetings over emailed handouts and recorded lectures.
A substantial majority of members, 69%, were definitely interested in online classes for the fall, and another 25% were willing to consider the possibility. Only 6% were definitely uninterested.
- I feel it is very important to not cancel the fall program no matter how reduced the offerings … and not let this pandemic defeat us. We might lose members, who aren’t comfortable with technology or feel they are too vulnerable, for a year or more given our average age, but there are still others who will want the stimulation of the LLI program.
- I just want to keep learning even if online
- Might take an LLI small group course as it would be appealing to have interactions with other members on a topic of shared interest.
- If not possible until vaccine or treatments available, only online are available, I will still participate, especially if we keep to a Friday format with the usual times.
- The content not the medium is the issue.
- Love the class that I am taking online right now.
- Depends on what is offered.
- I would want to support any presenters who were willing to teach online to see us through this difficult time.
- Let’s make the best of our situation and have LLI classes and whatever interaction we can arrange.
- It might solve the problem of bad weather cancellations in the winter
- I can easily access online courses…I will not feel safe returning for on-campus classes.
- Many temptations can pull attention away when you are at home.
- Online courses have not been as interesting because you can’t hear the presenter. You just read.
- One of the big components of LLI has always been social contact along with learning… I would much rather read a book than sit with a computer interface.
- As a presenter this may pose several problems.
- No interest in attending virtual courses. I attend LLI not to learn stuff but to interact with educated people.
- Could the classes be virtual through Zoom or some other app?
- Whether I choose to do so will depend on the subjects and the presentation of the courses. Will the courses be interactive? Or will it be a passive experience, such as watching a video, or listening to a lecture?
- I think the challenge for the presenters will be to make the online presentation (and therefore the experience of students) match the subject matter.
- Of course, performance-oriented classes like Joan Tower’s are far better in person.
- Although I would welcome the online environment to sustain the program, I wouldn’t want to see us lean toward online in the future. The program is about so much more than the learning experience. It is a community.
- I can’t imagine an online wine course.
- What makes LLI special is the personal contact, both with other members and the presenters.
- Will the online schedule be more flexible than the usual?
These responses are so encouraging that Curriculum is developing online options, while the Tech Team will devise training sessions for members and presenters to allow for interactive, engaging sessions. Thanks to everyone for their feedback.