The 62 members of the LLI class of 2020 met the challenge of joining LLI with enthusiasm as it, of necessity, transformed itself into a vibrant online community. Most found their classes rewarding, despite the need to become familiar with Zoom. And of course, like all of us, many missed the opportunities for social interaction, whether in the classroom or the hospitality suite. They shared their reactions to their first semester at LLI in the 2020 new member survey. Here is a sample of their enthusiastic and insightful comments and thoughtful suggestions.
The mentor program continued to be a success, even though no one could meet face to face.
- My mentor was very helpful and welcoming.
- The mentor program is a great idea.
- A lifesaver for giving information especially since we are not on site and there is no clue who to ask.
- My mentor was excellent and guided me through all problems.
But there were some limitations.
- I wanted more input about LLI and the programs.
- I don’t remember much about having contact with a mentor.
- I can see that it would be very valuable if we weren’t in a COVID shut down
New Member Orientaton
As in previous years, the orientation helped most of the 92% of new members who attended.
- It gave me the feel of the program and the interesting people I would meet.
- Positive: getting acquainted with administrators and staff.
- The people on the call were very knowledgeable about how to use zoom.
- Everyone is lovely and helpful.
- The orientation was very thorough.
- Nice to feel welcomed.
But it didn’t benefit everyone.
- I wanted people introduced. I knew no one and that persisted throughout the semester. Zoom is not an easy way to meet new people
- The orientation couldn’t really tell us too much of what we would experience.
- I am sure it is quite a different experience than in the past.
Virtual Coffee Social
While we all prefer to meet new people face to face, the best option in this pandemic year was virtual. More than half of our new members (57.1%) came to the virtual coffee social. Most of them (87%) felt welcomed, but the remainder didn’t find it helpful. A quarter said they felt like they made some connection to LLI and learned something about it.
Most of the survey responses were strongly positive.
- I am very impressed with the quality of the courses and how the lecturers and tech managers met the challenge of an all online program.
- I love Bard LLI
- I loved all three of my classes and was impressed by how accomplished those teachers were.
- We are really enjoying the diversity of classes.
- What a gift especially being home so much.
Unfortunately, having classes online didn’t help people connect with each other.
- I really did feel alone not having any friendly faces in classes
And there was one suggestion for how we can connect with each other.
- More time should be allowed for each student to say hello and say something about themselves.
About two-thirds took either two or three classes. As in previous years, the comments were generally enthusiastic.
- The Zoom courses were very well done and I felt connected to the learning environment.
- The use of Zoom improved as it went on and one became acclimated.
- Getting in and out was easy as was class interaction.
- One presenter gave a break midway through her presentation. I got to stretch and grab a cup of coffee which I thought was great
- In one class we broke up into smaller groups (about 5 or 6) where we had active discussion which was very nice
The negative comments had more to do with the technology than the courses themselves.
- [Zoom] is poorly adapted to free form discussion. When courses require this, I believe special attention needs to be paid to how this will be handled.
- In person classes would have been better with more opportunities to interact
- It is rather intimidating as a new member to ask questions or speak out in a large group zoom.
- Technical difficulties sometimes got in the way.
And there was one suggestion for improvement.
- Live link should be sent in a uniform way for each course to reduce confusion. Link should be in the first line in the body of email.
The good news is that slightly more than half of new members have already joined at least one committee, with the understanding that this is a rewarding way to connect with other members. They are more than welcome. New ideas and fresh perspectives are essential to help LLI grow and thrive.