Trivia Tuesdays - OLLI at Yavapai College
When Crisis, Creativity, and Cooking Meet - OLLI at Bradley University
Sharing Stories and Facebook Selfies - Osher Institute at Towson University
OLLI "Progresses" Nicely - OLLI at San Francisco State University
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Greetings from the NRC    Jun 2020 15
The core of Osher Institutes is the social experience of lifelong learning and the relationship building that goes along with it. Creative OLLIs are quickly finding ways to preserve and even grow their member engagement during the pandemic. The sooner we accept the necessary loss of in-person interaction, the faster we can explore and experience the technological wonders of video conferencing to maintain our social contacts and community. Zoom and similar platforms are wonderous. Can you imagine what this pandemic would have been like just 10 years ago with far less advanced connectivity? And if we are honest, technology is a crucial learning activity for many of us "non-digital natives". If ever there was the time to take a learning challenge to grow in our personal technological literacy, it is now. Take that challenge with humility and humor. It will serve you well in mind and spirit for now and for whatever the future may bring.

So, who says an OLLI can't find fun during this pandemic? Having fun is not mutually exclusive with developing new skills. To the contrary, ours is a lifelong learning network that has proven for nearly 20 years that learning IS fun. The features in this month's newsletter are all about fun, modeling synchronous and lively events which are highly enjoyable. From a unique restaurant experience in Peoria, to rousing games in Prescott, AZ, to sharing stories in Baltimore, to a new kind of progressive dinner in San Francisco, OLLIs are crafting innovative experiences despite the confines of COVID-19.

In the inspiring words of OLLI at San Francisco State University director Kathy Bruin, "Pandemic be damned!".

May your summer learning bring you ample fun,
Steve Thaxton, Executive Director

OLLI at Yavapai College
In late April, OLLI at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona introduced a fun new social event for their members, Zoom Trivia! This event was the result of seeking innovative ways to introduce Zoom to members. The idea was to create a low-pressure, fun environment to help engage members and increase familiarity with Zoom. Having previously offered Open Houses via Zoom, after the initial meetings, it became clear staff needed to attach an element of fun to keep members coming back.
Trivia Tuesdays has been a big hit with OLLI members! Not only do the members enjoy the activity, but for staff, it is easy to conduct. Staff recruits an OLLI member willing to play game show host and then inform their members with Monday morning announcements that include an invitation to attend Trivia.
To conduct Trivia Tuesdays, OLLI at Yavapai uses trivia question website Random Trivia Generator. The site generates random trivia questions, from easy to difficult levels. Leaders then use the screen sharing feature of Zoom to display the questions to the participants. Initially, Trivia Tuesday started with an expectation that the leader could maintain control (that was funny, right?) of the game and participants. They quickly learned that the idea of control was a myth, and went from "raise your hand" to members just shouting out answers. Although it was a little more chaotic, it was much more fun. Members and staff are enjoying themselves, laughing a lot, and cheering people on when they are correct.
What does the future hold? So far trivia has been a hit, but change is constant. The staff is exploring new games to play online with members, maybe Pictionary or Scattergories or Bingo, who knows?
Submitted by : Tricia Berlowe, Director, OLLI at Yavapai College

OLLI at Bradley University
When Crisis, Creativity, and Cooking Meet
Members at the Osher Institute at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois are accustomed to ample opportunities to learn while engaging socially in tours and events. They are also civically minded and care deeply about the survival of local restaurants in their city. When distance learning became necessary, virtual events were an important component of the OLLI's distance learning offerings. It extended to a special opportunity for OLLI members to register for a delicious takeout meal from a popular Peoria Warehouse District restaurant on April 29 th, which OLLI staff and volunteers delivered curbside into members' cars. The following night after enjoying the meal, members were treated to a behind the scenes virtual tour and cooking demonstration at  Thyme Kitchen by owner Travis Mohlenbrink and executive chef, Steve Bullock. With iPad in hand, Travis was able to give the tour and speak about the local restaurant business and their challenges. The prix fixe menu was priced at $30 per person, including the virtual tour. Like past OLLI events at Thyme Kitchen, it was a sell-out and has prompted other local restaurant tours and meals to be scheduled.
OLLI director and Bradley University Continuing Education interim executive director, Michelle Riggio Rarick says, "We brainstormed different ways to combine learning and social engagement while helping our community, and as a result, a creative new program was born. The staff has had a ball interacting with our members again, even if only for a short time, and we are all so happy to support our locally owned businesses, too."
Click here to read more about the event from Peoria Journal Star reporter Leslie Renken

Osher Institute at Towson University
Sharing Stories and Facebook Selfies
The Osher Institute at Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland was just one week into its spring semester when the University shut down due to the pandemic. With the start of classes, there was a buzz of activity and an excitement of seeing everyone again. As it ended abruptly, OLLI staff wanted to continue that engagement with members and with each other too.

Connection during quarantine can be tough especially for those who are by themselves. Staff and members were curious about how everyone was doing and what was keeping them busy. In the weekly e-newsletter, staff shared work-from-home selfies and told everyone what they were up to. In response, they heard back from a number of members and learned that they were digging into lots of different things-books, films, gardening, art making, exercising, and connecting with family and friends through Zoom and FaceTime. Staff then shared these messages in the following week's newsletter. A few more people have shared a little bit about their worlds each week. Advisory Board chair-elect, Jim Fish, recounted what he and his wife are doing. Member, Linda Forlifer sent a great picture of a beautiful redbud tree in her yard. Don and Lyn Brock shared pictures of themselves with their dog, Bramwell. Dolores Kirwin, Frank Margolis, Loring Boglioli, Susan Fernandez, and Mara Marchand all brightened OLLIs world by sharing the art that they have been creating in recent weeks. While staff and members look forward to seeing everyone in person as soon as it's safe to do so, in the meantime, everyone is cherishing the little peeks that they get into members' lives.

Submitted by: Tracy Jacobs, Director, Osher Institute at Towson University

OLLI at San Francisco State University
OLLI "Progresses" Nicely
The sudden shift in the world brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, and the awareness OLLI at San Francisco State University has of the vulnerabilities faced by older adult members, has forced everyone into a situation where creativity and ingenuity are being plumbed in new ways. It's been stressful, but also exciting to consider new ways to engage and support members, build community, and keep revenue dollars coming in.

OLLI at San Francisco State, transitioned classes and many interest groups to Zoom, and have added a few smaller events to connect people in new ways. Member Anne Drazen, offered to host Progressive Dinners via Zoom and there have been two successful events thus far.

In "real life", a progressive dinner is one where guests move from house to house - one for appetizers, the next for main course, etc. OLLI director, Kathy Bruin once participated in a six-house progressive dinner where each house had a different continent theme. She and her co-host had the first course and, having chosen Russia/Europe as the theme, wore big furry coats and hats and served blinis and caviar with iced vodka. Luckily, San Francisco is a walking city as people were pretty sauced by the time they reached house #4 for the African soup course!

Anne's idea for Zoom progressive dinners has guests "progress" from pane to pane to talk about what they've been up to. The dinners have been intimate - only 8-10 people - and Anne acts as host, posing questions to draw people out (where are you from and when did you come to San Francisco? What do miss most? What's the last OLLI class you took? How long have you been an OLLI member?) Over the hour-long event, everyone learns new and interesting things about each other, and in most cases, people did not already know each other.

In addition to the progressive dinners OLLI has also held small online gatherings like the Creativity Check In for people to share the creative projects they've been working on. Members shared sewing projects including masks and quilts, collage, and watercolor projects. OLLI also held a session called Introduce Us To Your Pet which included a motley crew of cat and dog owners coaxing and bribing their pets to show up for the camera. It was a lot of laughs.

The entire California State University system will continue with distance learning through the fall. Staff and members are settling into the new normal and know that when they return to in-person meetings, people will know each other in ways many didn't when they more anonymously attended classes. After connecting faces with names on Zoom and participating in smaller group video gatherings (sometimes with a glass of wine, or a kitty on their lap), coming together in 2021 should be quite festive indeed.

Submitted by: Kathy Bruin, Director, OLLI at San Francisco State University

An Advice Column for Osher Institute Staff and Volunteers
dearolliDear Olli
Dear Olli,
I am a director worried about the threat of "Zoom Bombing". I know it is unlikely that one of my OLLI classes will be Zoom Bombed, but I want to prepared. What can I do to increase the security of our meetings and classes?
~Worried Director
Dear Worried Director,
Your concern is understandable. The media has focused reporting on the issue of Zoom Bombing, and it can be quite scary. Although it is unlikely you will be Zoom Bombed, it is best to take some precautions to protect your classes and members. So here are a few simple things you can do to add security measures to your online Zoom classes:
  1. Use meeting passwords - Only participants with the password can join the meeting
  2. Turn off Participant Screen Sharing - Only allow the hosts to share their screen
  3. Use the waiting room feature - This allows the host to screen the participants before they enter the class with the side benefit of taking attendance
For extra security, you can also lock down meetings, authenticate users, disable the join before host feature, as well as other options. The point is that you can secure your Zoom classroom as much as you feel it is needed with Zoom's numerous security features. One last tip, check the Zoom website for updates. Over recent months, Zoom has added additional security features and patches. It's always a good idea to check for the latest version.
Wishing you safe, secure, and engaging classes!

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 - Connect Members with Your Newsletter
The Osher Institute at Bradley University uses their newsletter to highlight what they call "Member Memories." This section of the newsletter asks members to express what they like about OLLI and also helps give names to faces with the included photo. In these socially distant times, it's always nice to hear positive stories and find connections in new ways.

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