Osher NRC - Resources for the Mind, Body, and Spirit
Osher NRC - Ideas and Resources for Combatting Social Isolation
OLLI at California State University, Chico - Sticking Together in Times of Isolation: How Hard Times are Fostering Innovation
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Greetings from the NRC    Apr 2020 15
The quote, "Let no crisis go to waste" has been attributed to multiple political thought leaders over the ages, including Niccolò  Machiavelli, Winston Churchill, and more recently, Rahm Emanuel. No matter your political or philosophical views, what this quote can mean to the Osher Network in our unexpected and unfortunate times is constructive opportunity. That opportunity is in building even stronger OLLI communities.
Two weeks ago (consider how long ago that was), Bill Taylor, President of the Osher Institute Board at George Mason University made a powerful point to membership, " This is an important moment for OLLI-maybe the most important in many years. The COVID-19 is a threat that is upending our daily lives. It is also presenting us with an opportunity to enhance the accessibility of our programs in ways that will help all of us get through this period of unplanned isolation, and potentially make us more attractive to new members in the years that come."
Whether planned or celebrated, ignored or embraced, technology has become an integral part of OLLIs. The debate about it damaging our valued socialization is now a moot point. Forward thinking Institutes recognized this quickly. They began to experiment with digital and distance learning technologies to benefit early adopters and importantly, mobility-impaired members who didn't give up their love of learning when they gave up driving.  Now, in the span of just weeks, a global pandemic has helped us prove to one another that creating community and the use of technology are not mutually exclusive.
Martha Cutts, Board Chair of OLLI at American University wisely observed, "A strong sense of community has always been an integral part of OLLI at AU, and these past two weeks have shown that in myriad new ways...We are still learning, and I am confident that the inevitable bumps and glitches will diminish with practice...I realize after my ZOOM classes that seeing the slides up close and being able to adjust the volume to suit my needs were even advantages over being in a classroom!"
While better days are surely ahead, so are future crises. Maybe they'll be more localized - fires, floods, or polar vortexes. But the lessons we're learning in creatively using technology to build and maintain Osher communities can lastingly fortify our Institutes.
I am so proud of the countless ways OLLIs have shared their lessons, resources, and stories of success on our forums for staff communications. Thank you for helping the NRC in its core mission of "Connecting, Collaborating, Consulting, and Celebrating with and for Osher Institutes." Please learn from and take pride in the following sample of just a few ideas and practices you have shared with us during the past few weeks.
With gratitude and wishes for safety and health,
Steve Thaxton, Executive Director

National Resource Center for Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes
In these challenging times of isolation, the reduction of activity can cause further anxiety for lively minds. With limitations to daily life due to staying at home, there are many resources available to stimulate the mind, body, and spirit. Below is a list of articles, websites, and videos targeted towards those who are aiming to maintain overall health and well-being.
  • Coursera:
    Their tagline, "World-class learning for anyone, anywhere" says it all: Coursera is perfect for those who are looking to broaden their current skillset or learn something completely new from top universities and companies across the world. For those just getting started with Coursera, there is a helpful guide provided by Lifewire, which explains how to begin with free coursework. Guide to Coursera.
  • HarvardX:
    Free online courses ranging a variety of subjects, from Art to Data Science, Programming and Social Science etc...
  • Language Learning:
    Learn a language online! This article gives some of the best resources and tips for brushing up on some old linguistic skills or delving into a new semantic horizon.
  • Learnthat:
    Looking for something a little more short-term? Learnthat provides online tutorials with subjects that span far and wide, from sports to technology, automobiles to home repair.
  • Library:
    Though most physical libraries are closed, many library websites have eBooks available for checkout. Many do not require anything but a computer, as you download from an online eReader.
  • LibraryThing:
    This site is wonderful for anyone missing monthly or weekly book clubs, as the site is rife with fascinating discussion boards.
  • Local Bookstores:
    While not many independent bookstores can ship to homes, many allow ordering and shipping gift cards to friends, which both supports the stores in difficult times, and makes for an easy present for friends and family stuck at home as well.
  • Project Gutenberg
    These free online books are mostly classics, so now is the time to finally stroll through Dublin in Joyce's Ulysses or solve the crime of a Victorian manor house alongside Sherlock Holmes in Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles.
  • TED Talks:
    The world of experts is your oyster with TED Talks, an online archive of experts sharing their passions, research, and stories with the public.
Health and Wellness:  
  • Free Yoga:
    Popsugar has compiled a list of free online yoga videos ranging all skill levels. Namaste!
  • Go4Life Workout Videos:
    This workout playlist was created by the National Institute on Aging for exercises at all skill levels.
  • Meditation Videos:
    Meditation aims to make the current state of solitude fell less alone and more productive.
Arts and Culture:
  • Museum Tours:
    Check out some of the world's finest museums, from the comforts of your couch. Perhaps Zoom chat with some friends, and screenshare to simulate a coordinated visit.
  • Podcasts:
    Have you always wanted to delve into the podcast world but not known where to begin? Wired has created a beginner's guide to podcasts which exhibits how to use pre-loaded platforms, download your own, and find podcasts that might be of personal interest. If you would like an essential basics version of this guide, Discover Pods has created a guide for absolute beginners. Guide for absolute beginners.

National Resource Center for Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes
Ideas and Resources for Combatting Social Isolation
As Osher Institutes are working hard to bring courses online and maintain learning resources for members, there is also a dedication to trying new and unique methods for providing ways for members to socialize - a vital component of the mission of OLLIs. Below are a few examples of differing systems for bringing individuals together for casual conversation during these isolating times.
OLLI at Arizona State University
What is it: Party Line - a Zoom meeting room that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

As a way to keep connecting with each other through "social distancing," we've decided to create a "party line" for you to chat with each other.  

Our "party line" will be a 24/7 un-monitored Zoom room - feel free to jump on anytime to see who else is on and strike up a conversation. In the mornings, get your cup of Joe, take your tablet to your patio, and see if you can make a new friend to talk to. In the afternoons, maybe hop on to see how everyone else's days went.

You can also use our "party line" to test your system with Zoom. You can play around with the mic, webcam, and chat features to get familiar with Zoom before your class begins. 

Unlike the party lines back in the day, this one won't serve 2-10 houses, it'll serve our whole community. It may get a bit "crowded" sometimes (we kind of hope it does), so we ask that you engage with each other in patient, caring, and empathetic ways.

PS - hoping to check up on a friend in OLLI at ASU but don't know if you can go see them? Text them and ask them to meet you on the party line at a certain time - you'll be able to see each other's faces!

We've never tried anything like this before - actually, we're not sure if anyone's tried this before. If you have feedback for improvements after your experience on the party line, email us.

OLLI at University of Virginia
What is it: Facebook Group
We created a private group on our OLLI at UVA Facebook group so members can connect and gather virtually. Anyone in the group can post questions, share interesting online links, photos, etc. Other OLLI members can comment on posts and add their own as well.
Only OLLI at UVA members and instructors will be admitted to this group and all content posted will only be visible to other members of this Facebook group. OLLI staff will monitor the page and chime in once in a while too.
Simply click the button below to go to the group and then click the blue +Join Group button under the profile picture on the left of the page. We will approve your request to join within a day or less. See you online!
OLLI director, Kara West noted that they received 35 requests to join the FB group in just a couple hours after the announcement, so this was obviously wanted and needed.
OLLI at Bradley University
What is it: Google Meets
Missing your OLLI Friends? Try Google Meets. Do you have gmail and a laptop with a camera?  This is a quick easy face-to-face interaction you can access right through a gmail account.  The OLLI staff has been using it to communicate as we work remotely.  Read through the steps below and give it a try, you might be surprised to find how nice it is to see a familiar face.
OLLI at University of South Florida
What is it: "OLLI Connects" Blog
The "OLLI Connects" blog at USF published a piece on great books to read when you're "Social-distancing" and not attending OLLI courses because of the restrictions on public gatherings. 
OLLI at University of North Carolina Wilmington
What is it: Online Photo Album
Members are encouraged to upload a favorite photo album to a shared album that can be viewed by all membership.

OLLI at California State University, Chico
Sticking Together in Times of Isolation:
How Hard Times are Fostering Innovation
What inspired me most about my first few months on the job as Program Director for OLLI at California State University, Chico, was the strong sense of community among members whose ages ranged from 50 to 99. Classes convened on a wide-range of topics, and members packed their weekly schedules with learning activities and social engagements that defined them as lifelong learners. That was nearly eight years ago. A ravaging fire in the neighboring town of Paradise, and now a global pandemic, have since redefined our experience on so many levels. Yet the spirit of community I discovered years ago is thriving, despite the distance these events wedge between us.

Last week, as we locked up the OLLI offices and classrooms to take shelter, we were asked for assistance by the University. Some of the traditional students and faculty were expressing anxiety about transitioning to a virtual environment, and the Center for Regional & Continuing Education at CSU, Chico was creating video testimonials to help mitigate their fear. Encouraged by OLLI's sudden keenness for online learning, we were asked to participate. Volunteer instructor Leanne Ulvang, who'd already recorded four online history lectures before the Governor's orders to stay home, used her iPhone on short notice to record a two-minute video called  Advice for New Online Students. The lighting is not perfect. The camera angle isn't great. But moving forward and reaching people at this time of great uncertainty and isolation is far more important than a polished video.

Thanks to the many dedicated volunteers, like Leanne, and the can-do attitude of our part-time staff, OLLI Chico now has a growing library of recorded lectures and other resources on its website, including   Zooming in a Pandemic, another short video by Leanne intended primarily for OLLI instructors who are feeling overwhelmed by the new technology. Her humor-filled "pep talk" is emblematic of the adventure we are all on together and a reminder that humility is just what the doctor ordered!

On March 24, OLLI volunteer Janet Rechtman hosted her first live Zoom conference with eight members of her spring class. In a virtual staff meeting the same day, we talked about plans to host a virtual summer class preview, with Zoom training appointments now in the works for our instructors. What about members without email? Phone calls and U.S. Mail are two ways we're connecting with them. OLLI instructor Debbie Vermette took it a step further by creating a series of art lessons for her class Exploring Mixed Media Collage. The step-by-step instructions for each of her lectures are now posted on the OLLI website, and she is mailing printed copies to class members without email. Here's an example of one of my favorites from her Sewing Pattern Collage Project.

In just a few weeks our lives and routines have changed dramatically, and the information about "what's next?" seems to swirl around us like the cherry blossoms in my yard; hopefully aloft one moment, then dropping to the ground. While I'm seeing a lot more of my yard, my home, and my family since sheltering-in-place, I feel more connected than ever to OLLI, and I am filled to the brim with hopefulness about what we can do-together.

Submitted by : Ann Nikolai, Director, OLLI at California State University, Chico

Osher NRC 2020 Special Webinars
On Monday March 16th the NRC offered two special webinars to assist Institutes in preparing to offer their classes in an online environment. These two webinars were widely attended and the recordings linked below are now available for viewing. The recordings are open for public viewing.
This special webinar is offered to assist Osher Institutes in rapidly moving their classes and content online. The Webinar presenters will discuss various aspects to consider in the transition of on-ground to online classes. Topics include: the various formats available, content considerations, crisis management, and resources to assist in the conversion.
Abby Baker , Program Coordinator, Arizona State University
Kevin Connaughton , Manager of Adult Learning, Osher National Resource Center
Steve Thaxton , Executive Director, Osher National Resource Center
Jackie Wickham Smith , Senior Learning Designer, Northwestern University
This webinar will review the basic functions of Zoom in an effort to assist directors and/or staff who are unfamiliar with the platform. The presenters will review the fundamentals and provide extensive Q and A to address your questions.
Abby Baker , Program Coordinator, Arizona State University
Kevin Connaughton , Manager of Adult Learning, Osher National Resource Center
Steve Thaxton , Executive Director, Osher National Resource Center

If you have interest in being a presenter or have ideas for future webinars, please contact Kevin Connaughton (kevin.connaughton@northwestern.edu ). 

An Advice Column for Osher Institute Staff and Volunteers
dearolliDear Olli
Dear Olli,
I am a member that will be participating in the Zoom video classes that my OLLI is now offering. I will be attending these classes through my iPhone. I know I need to download an app to attend Zoom classes this way, but on the Apple Store there are numerous Zoom apps to download, which of these apps is the one I need for my classes?
~ Member Going Online!
Dear Member Going Online,
Going online for classes, if you have never done it before, can be scary and exciting. It can be hard to navigate this new space especially with all of the options. On to your question, first, always look for the zoom icon as seen here on the right. 
This logo means it is an official Zoom video conferencing product or app. There are other  apps that have the name "Zoom" (or something similar), these products are not related to the  Zoom app you will need to attend your class. The app you should download to attend your Zoom class will be called, "ZOOM Cloud Meetings". As seen in the two following screenshots it is the top one on the list for both the Apple App Store and Google App Store:


But it's even easier than that! Prior to your first Zoom class, get onto the device you are going to use to view the class. Open your email on this device and click the link to the future Zoom class. This should pop up a window that asks you if you want to download the app in the Apple or Google App store. If you "allow" this function, it will take you to the exact app you need to download to attend your class. Download the app suggested and you will be ready to attend your first class.

Have a question for Olli? Please send it in care of Kevin Connaughton (kevin.connaughton@northwestern.edu). 

Quick Tips for Helping Operate an Osher Institute
didyouknowQuick Tip - Stay in Touch with E-Newsletters
While Osher Institutes have had to cancel or move their scheduled courses online, they are also finding other ways to reach out to members and provide both practical and learning opportunities. The OLLI at University of North Carolina in Asheville is now sending three e-newsletters per week, each with a different focus to support their members. An excerpt from director, Catherine Frank:

"Our Sunday newsletter will focus on practical matters like the list below of places offering takeout and delivery options. We will share information about various programs designed to keep us informed and connected when it comes to the virus. We also hope to share your stories on Sunday; tell us how you are spending your time. We really appreciate photos and will give you a way to share those.
Our Wednesday newsletter, the Cabin Fever Edition, will focus on content so that our love of learning can continue outside the classroom. For now we are primarily offering links to existing online content, but stay tuned. It is our hope to begin to experiment with original online content. We are all learning! We appreciate the suggestions we have already received and look forward to receiving more. Click here for a simple form if you have online resources that have helped you keep your mind active in this unprecedented time.
Next Friday, we will launch "Tech Connect" to keep you tuned in to the various tools you can use to stay in touch. We have already sent out surveys to our Special Interest Group (SIG) Coordinators and our OLLI Steering Council committee chairs to determine their interest in connecting online. We held an uplifting Steering Council meeting online on Friday and will accelerate our efforts to facilitate more online meetings and offer some original online content." 

  Career Openings in the OLLI Network
jobboardJob Board
Executive Director - Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
University of Virginia

Administrative Generalist - Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Is there a staff opening at your Osher Institute? Please send it to us at  oshernrc@northwestern.edu