SummerFest, And the Learning Was Easy


That was the goal of the LLI Online Task Force, and according to the 104 LLI members who answered the survey, they often succeeded. Even when members did not enjoy their experience, however, they often had some constructive comments. Here are some of their reactions to attending their SummerFest classes on Zoom.

Online Classes

Online learning, in itself, generally prompted positive responses.

  • I like the direct and sustained focus on the presenter w/o spontaneous interruptions for comments/questions from the class
  • No problem seeing the videos or the presenter. No changing position needed to see around member’s heads in the classroom
  • We are getting this fantastic opportunity to listen to this lecture from the comfort of our safe homes
  • The presentation … was excellent. And the after-class chat
  • Accepting that this is how we must do it, for now at least
  • I loved it! Ease of being at home, easier to concentrate, and focus due to fewer distractions
  • Ability to shed an emotional tear now and then without embarrassment
  • In some ways, the view of this hands-on presentation was better than it would have been in a classroom because we had a closeup
  • It was very convenient
  • Had a coffee and a snack
  • Seeing everyone’s face. Typically, in a classroom you see the back of everyone’s head
  • Didn’t have to drive to class


About 63% of members already knew how to use Zoom and another 23% were relatively comfortable with the technology after training.

  • Couldn’t be any easier. Just click and we are in
  • We have many members who will have to learn the technology
  • Tech problems that couldn’t be solved early were taken offline by chat or after class
  • As people use Zoom more, they will enjoy the lectures
  • It was helpful to have the moderators point things out
  • Tech support was very effective

Others were less than happy with the platform, for a variety of reasons.

  • [Training] was not very helpful
  • Not as good as face to face
  • I do not have a camera, therefore I felt left out
  • Constant screens popping in and out—miserable
  • Learning where all the little icons were on iPad and what they did
  • I was told by the session manager I would have to drop the class, because I did not immediately know how to change my screen name to my full name. … When I asked how to do it, the information was not correct. [Note: the requirement to identify yourself was set up to prevent nonmembers from attending LLI classes. Session managers will work to simplify the identification process.]
  • Beautiful presentation—Zoom does its best to ruin it
  • I truly hate Zoom—truly bad for an involved presentation

Video and Audio

In general, most members were satisfied with their ability to hear and see the presentation and their classmates.

  • The video and audio were very clear
  • Easily able to mute and unmute

There were some issues, however, some of which may be resolved through additional training.

  • The video worked well, but the picture was obstructed by a strip of participants (including myself) on the right side
  • Film was small in relation to the actual screen footprint
  • It was hard to get rid of all the clutter, icons, windows, etc to allow a clear view of the video
  • Inexplicably hard to get started (audio)
  • The audio was not loud enough on my computer’s speakers
  • Some students did not mute or stop their video although they were asked to

Classroom Participation

When setting up the format for SummerFest classes, the Online Task Force knew that the ability to interact with the presenter and other attendees was a primary concern for most LLI members. Some were able to use technology effectively.

  • Raising our hands to speak worked very well
  • Muting all participants and texting questions and comments worked best
  • Asking questions and waiting for the session manager to relay them causes additional delay. But that is still the best way to do it
  • Lots of interaction between presenters and participants
  • Easy to participate via chat

But several people had difficulty participating in a class discussion.

  • The class was very crowded & discussion seemed difficult after her talk
  • Good idea to disable the “private chat” while the presentation is going on
  • Several opportunities to expand on a discussion, but no ability to do so. Like being in a class where the instructor rejects crosstalk
  • Could use more instruction on how to use CHAT and also how to RAISE THE HAND icon if there is one

Interacting with Classmates

Members were consistently glad for the opportunity to spend a little time with their classmates, even on screen.

  • Great to say “hi” to other members
  • Would appreciate the chat to stay on a little longer after class
  • It is wonderful to be able to talk together and see each other, after all these weeks of isolation
  • It was great to see the gallery view of LLI members and get better at associating names with faces
  • Everyone seemed to enjoy the free conversation time at the beginning
  • The time together after class was a very pleasant experience


Many people found the classes rewarding.

  • I’m so happy you are still able to offer us these wonderful learning experiences—even with the world upside down
  • I thought it was as good as being physically in a classroom
  • It had a kind of intimacy with the presenter

And others made some general comments.

  • Wish we had more class time
  • Maybe a little more introduction to the presenter and topic at the beginning
  • The class seemed a bit short, maybe because it was so interesting
  • Two classes in a row is a lot of screen time in one morning

Presenter effectiveness

The presenters, like the LLI members, needed some training in adapting their talks to a Zoom presentation. Member feedback about their ability to do so was generally positive.

  • I was surprised at the high quality of both instructors and the ease with which they presented
  • Professor had practiced with the Zoom platform and it showed
  • Clearly [the presenter] is very adept at handling a discussion like this
  • The presenter was great at looking for hands raised for questions and responding
  • Being able to hear the presenter speak from his own experience was wonderful
  • Producer and presenter were both gentle and patient
  • The speaker was interesting and it gave me insights into areas I was curious about

But some presenters could clearly benefit from additional training.

  • The slides had too much to read
  • The presenter felt it was okay to read much of her PowerPoint presentation rather than talk from it
  • The presenter had a problem speaking clearly

Some Final Observations

  • Better initial ground rules for suggestions
  • I think the class should start & END punctually. We need a half-hour breathing space before the [next] class
  • Eliminate the need to identify yourself or make it easy to do so
  • I recommend that the session manager or host export the list of participants. That will make attendance easier
  • All these links for meetings. Aargh
  • Send the hospitality truck to everyone’s home

Thanks to everyone who took the time to comment. Many of these comments were made after the first sessions, and as people became more comfortable with Zoom, the classes ran more smoothly.  This input will help the Online Learning Task Force improve our classroom experience in the fall.