This year’s annual survey elicited some strong and varied opinions from the 97 members who answered it. For the most part, people were pleased with the course offerings, although they had numerous suggestions for additional subjects. Likewise, many greeted the possibility of forming small separate interest groups with enthusiasm. Some members were able to easily navigate the technology, while many found it cumbersome. Members were also divided about volunteering opportunities and the social justice initiative. Following is a representative sample of the many comments.
The variety and content of LLI courses pleased 93.7% of LLI members.
- The offerings cover wide variety of interests
- The curriculum did a tremendous job of pulling together these classes and finding the right presenter for the class.
- The added courses addressing issues related to diversity added greatly to the richness of LLI offerings.
- Thank you for continuing to expand the class offerings and to have an open mind to listen to members’ suggestions.
Want More Options
- Did not like Summerfest 2022 offerings.
- Too many “social action” courses.
- I want more rigorous academic classes in literature, science, and history.
- Generally would have liked more of a selection of history and govt courses and not have them in direct conflict with each other.
- We seem to have quite a few courses with limited class sizes. With the increased membership and the added difficulty of navigating ProClass, many members get shut out of registering for courses.
- We need to get the opposing opinions expressed in courses like those for farming, solar, etc.
Members suggested a wide variety of possible new courses:
- History: historical sites and local sites; history of Latinos, immigrants and/or indigenous people in the Hudson Valley; US History/world events; American indigenous peoples’ history; major Supreme Court rulings; a course centered on the 1619 project
- Language: Spanish for dummies, French.
- Science: environmental courses; wildlife rehabilitation; inherited disease; astronomy
- The Arts: clay sculpting; dance; history of cinema; practical photography, video production
- Personal growth: body image issues historically and now; plantstrong eating; spiritual topics…not religious
- Technology: computer classes such as excel, tik tok, videos, etc; AI; the internet and its effect on our brains and lives
- Social Justice: social justice issues allowing for conversations, criminal justice
- Beverages: a class on coffee similar to the one on tea, a tour of local wineries
- Hobbies: knitting, chess
- Outdoors: hiking class that is closer to Bard, adventure course where the presenter could share his experiences
Special Interest Groups
Many members hoped LLI will informally support some special interest groups that would be run and administered by those who join them. The most popular possibilities were walking/hiking (72.2%), bocce ball (46.3%), pickleball (50%), and bridge (9.3%).
- Tech is easy to navigate and use. The videos are helpful.
- You’ve come a long way in making ProClass more “friendly.”
- Somehow persuade our members that, yes, they CAN learn new things!
- Everything seems perfect for the novice Zoom users.
- Maybe we could have a technology how to class.
- Would like a small group for learning Google Workspace.
- More volunteers on each team.
- Offer classes both in person and in Zoom format–all the time!
- Too many presenters have trouble with Zoom.
- Wish all members were required to have an LLI email.
- Simplify. Platforms, support for them, user interface, esp ProClass, much too complicated for LLI needs.
- Look into Slack for Bard LLI. It is a transformative way for an organization to stay connected.
Only 57% of respondents knew that tech help is available. Of those who did, 80% said it helped them solve their issues, while 13.3% said it was somewhat useful but they needed more instruction. Another 6.7% were able to solve their own issues, while 3.3% said it didn’t work for them. Most supported publicizing it in the newsletter and on the website.
Of the respondents, 54.8% said they have volunteered. However, when asked whether they have the tech skills to help run the organization, 90.8% said they do not.
- Consider being a class manager
- I can usually fit a “one-off” chore into my life if someone needs help
- I do not have the tech ability to handle all that is expected and do it well
- Live too far away and have other obligations
Respondents appreciated the efforts of the class managers and session managers, with 96.6% rating them helpful. Everyone said the emails from class support members were pertinent and on time.
- The support offered is excellent.
- There is a clear path to follow with specific concerns or problems with a class or teacher.
- We need more people to volunteer for this position.
- Would it be feasible or possible to notify classmates to log on if they didn’t log on if they forget?
- Standardize the links for online classes, and make sure to include the email addresses of the class managers.
Social Justice Initiative
Members were generally supportive of the efforts of the Social Justice Team to expand diversity in courses (94%), presenters (86.7%), newsletter articles (77.1%), and membership (86.7%). However, 56% did not want to receive email notifications from them.
- Courses have been enlightening, informative, and helping me understand and open further to racial issues that need our attention.
- The use of one-time presenters from other institutions was creative and a useful tool for presenter diversity made possible by a Zoom based course.
- I have learned so much that I had no idea that I was clueless about.
- LLI should support as much as possible and encourage this important, relevant work.
- Hearts and minds are in the right place, all intentions are good, efforts seem a bit “fraught” at times.
- I would like to see more creative ways to help expose the wider LLI membership to the issues we are grappling with–through LLI wide lectures, events, social activities.
- More classes with discussion.
- We do not live in a diverse area so diversity in membership is a challenge.
- I wish that more people of color would join us but it’s so hard to get a convincing message of welcome to them.
- Invite more members of LLI to contribute to the conversation. It feels like many are being excluded from the process and DEI is a closed group.
- The team has been more divisive than any other initiative at LLI. Many key volunteers have left because of the rhetoric and condescending attitude of the messaging.
- We need to have both sides expressed during the courses.
- I love being part of the Bard LLI community.
- I commend the leadership and the efforts of the Bard LLI particularly in this difficult time.
- Zoom classes were brilliant and provided a great opportunity for those with mobility issues.
- If people are complaining they should do something to make it better, not spend time complaining.
Room for Improvement
- Membership fees vs registration and course availability needs to be addressed. So often courses are closed out
- Wish there was a way to increase socializing.
- Group needs to be open to members with physical impairments.
- Perhaps some classes or activities should be offered on Saturday to allow people who are working to participate.
- Streamline the administrative infrastructure of Bard LLI.
- Covid has impacted us in many ways and we really need to be flexible for currently non-participating members or those considering dropping membership because of this.
- LLI could better use its membership to recruit presenters.
Thanks to all who took the time to provide such thoughtful feedback. Your suggestions will help LLI continue to grow and improve.