Welcome to The Inside Scoop, our electronic newsletter for members only. Please enjoy this issue, and share your feedback by email. We always look forward to hearing from you.
Teaching Over Zoom: Challenges, Advantages, and Victories
In order to keep members, instructors, and staff safe, Encore Learning has continued to offer all its programming remotely over Zoom. But, instead of treating digital learning as an obstacle, Encore Learning's instructors have been taking advantage of everything this new medium has to offer!
Offering class online removes barriers of location, travel time, and transportation for members. Currently, 18 students are attending class from outside the DC Metro area in Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, Arizona, New Mexico, and Canada. Elizabeth Jones Valderrama, the facilitator of "Crime, Safety, Justice and Reentry," appreciates how an online venue opens up her classroom up to the larger world, "I am proud of Encore Learning for quickly shifting to a virtual set up, which has allowed several of my students and their fur babies to join the course from anywhere in the country. The technology makes it easier to include guest speakers, tours, and videos. I am thrilled to be facilitating the class virtually." Elizabeth's cats are, indeed, one of the many highlights of her class!
|Elizabeth Jones Valderrama and her students in |
Crime, Safety, Justice and Reentry
For Cressida McKean, who teaches "Cooking for Wellness", teaching via video from home has allowed her to give her students a close up view of her techniques: "Teaching online made me appreciate the power of video. It gave me a graphic tool to share cooking approaches like blanching leafy greens that I might not have used in an in-person lecture class. The final product using multiple videos sharing my real cooking experience was worth the effort."
Instructors and staff have been working hard to ensure video and audio quality over Zoom. D. Ohlandt, who is teaching "Theater Appreciation" for the 12th time in over 10 years, has brought her directorial eye to her teaching setup, creating an ingenious high tech-low tech solution to ensure the best experience for her students. Check out her home teaching station!
She has been leading very spirited discussions on the plays her students have selected to read, view, and discuss. Instead of attending the theatre, students are able to watch digital recordings of the plays, which has added another opportunity for analysis and critique. D. explains, "It's giving us some interesting things to talk about regarding adapting theater to film or video. There are big differences, we are finding, between the live experience that changes slightly every performance, a "straight" videotaping of a stage performance, and a film adaptation of a play!" Her discussion based format for the class has transitioned well to Zoom: her students keep their videos on, speak freely, and enjoy the class in Gallery View. Often the screen becomes too small for all their thoughts, D says, "We have so much to talk about that the notes I take on my shared screen are too small for my students to read."
Of course, the experience of physically being in the classroom together is missed by many, especially when it comes to sharing a good joke. "Numbers & the News" instructor Steve Shapiro confesses: "What I miss most is the difficulty of seeing the facial expressions when I present something unusual or when I attempt some humor... Many students send me emails with comments and suggestions which is a great way to have some direct interaction. Of course, we all miss the face-to-face social engagement."
Tom Adams, who teaches "History of Scotland", has also been missing comedic feedback: "I have been known to occasionally crack a lame joke or two and now, after I've voiced the punch line virtually, there is, of course, no reaction from the muted audience. But one of my class aides at my last class told me afterward that she laughed out loud at one of my jokes so I will continue to tell them."
Tom has been exploring ways to connect with his students, allowing them time to introduce themselves to the group. "I asked those taking my Scottish History class to introduce themselves if they wished, and tell me a little about themselves, including whether they had ever been to Scotland or had Scottish ancestors. Their brief talks were fascinating and far more riveting than anything I was teaching. We are lucky to be with people in Encore Learning who have such interesting tales to tell."
Thank you to our 35 volunteer instructors who are delivering 208 class sessions and 19,290 minutes of instruction this semester.
Fall 2020: Courses Still Open for Registration
Important Reminders about Getting Into Class
Here are some key things to know about getting into your virtual classes:
- Connecting to an Encore Learning class is really two steps: retrieving the Zoom instructions from Class Media, then going to Zoom to enter the class.
- All instructions for connecting to your course via Zoom are in the Class Media and are called Zoom Instructions. The Zoom Instructions document contains the Zoom Meeting ID and passcode for that course.
- The same Zoom Meeting ID and passcode will be used for each class session of the course, so save that in a convenient place. Do not share this information with individuals who are not registered for the course.
- To connect to the course, the best way is to go to your Zoom application and enter the Meeting ID and passcode. You may also go to zoom.us and select 'join' from the upper right corner.
- You do not have to be logged into your Encore Learning member account to join your class.
- Please use your full name (first and last) when joining your class. This is for security purposes and also allows our Virtual Class Aides to easily identify you from the class roster. Those unable to be identified may be moved from the class back to the waiting room.
If your instructor has provided materials, they will be available to you in Membership Account Manager. Simply login and check the My Activities tab under My Account. Click on the link that says "View Class Media".
Thank you to all of our Volunteer Class Aides and Instructors who have learned to teach and host in the virtual environment.
Virtual Class Aides
We are now recruiting VCAs for the Spring Semester. Once trained, VCAs indicate which classes they are interested in being a VCA for, then they are assigned and pre-registered for the course. VCAs for Spring 2021 earn a complimentary course credit for Fall 2021. If you are interested in being a VCA and learning about the training, please email email@example.com.
Our Virtual Class Aides met on October 9 and shared best practices. Special thank you to Sandra Borden for
bringing so many good tips to light.
Ongoing Virtual Activities
We continue to host virtual Clubs and Special Events through Zoom. Many of you are already familiar with Zoom but if you need help, our Zoom Resources page will help get you started and troubleshoot, if necessary.
The Travel Club, Cinema Club, Mindfulness Club, Non-Fiction Book Club, Tech Hobbyist Club and Current Issues Discussion Group have all been meeting online with great turnouts and conversation. The Kayak Club has met on the water and kept social distance.
|Encore Learning's Breakfast Club|
Thanks to Lee Cooper for sharing this photo
Our Breakfast Club continues to meet virtually bright and early each Wednesday morning. Grab a cup of coffee and join the conversation! Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be added to the Breakfast Club (or any of our clubs) email list.
|Encore Learning's Current Issues Discussion Group Shared Insights on the Upcoming Election|
With our virtual Encore Learning Presents we can record the presentations and may share them in our YouTube channel.
We continue to offer virtual tours, check out the Special Events page for updates. If a tour fills up, please be sure to join the waitlist if you don't get a spot. That will enable the Special Events Committee to gauge demand and possibly offer the event again in the future.
Enjoy summaries of recent Special Events below.
Lively Pre-Election Event Drew Large Audience, Answered Questions
By Kris McLaughlin, Special Events Committee Chair
When the Encore Learning Special Events (ELSE) committee invited MSNBC's Chuck Rosenberg to speak again this year, the suggestion was for him to discuss the topic of his choice. He accepted the invitation with a pretty broad subject - current events.
On the afternoon of October 5, he spoke briefly and then answered audience members' questions for a bit longer than an hour. ELSE committee member David Tate facilitated the Q&A so deftly that one audience member asked if these are actual audience questions. They were.
Here's a sample of the comments by audience members in "chat" at the end of the event.
- Wonderful conversation!!
- Very intriguing. thank you!
- Thank you - this was fantastic!
- Thanks very much for your insightful answers.
- Great program! Thanks so much!
- Thanks Chuck. Let's do this again.
He said that he plans to join us again in October 2021. To hear more from Chuck Rosenberg, please check out his podcast,The Oath.
Virtual Tour Took Members Back in Time
By Special Events Committee Member Joanne Jones
On October 13, a gorgeous autumn day in Maryland, Encore Learning members were treated to a virtual tour of the National Park Seminary by Bonnie Rosenthal, Executive Director of Save our Seminary (SOS) at Forest Glen. Although we could not walk through this stunning site as we did last October, we enjoyed an in-depth virtual walk back in time thanks to an evocative presentation by Ms. Rosenthal.
|Main Building at the National Park Seminary|
She shared with us some marvelous photographs dating from the early 1900s, representing the various historical epochs and incarnations of the National Park Seminary (NPS). Located just inside the beltway on the edges of Rock Creek Park and Silver Spring, the Forest Glen area has been a delightful suburban oasis for more than a century. The National Park Service site has evolved from a country retreat hotel (Ye Forest Inne, served by a rail line from Union Station), to an exclusive boarding school for secondary and two-year college education for young ladies from well-to-do families (hence the title "Seminary"), to a U.S. Army rehabilitation and prosthetic limb research facility for wounded soldiers from World War II through the Viet Nam War (as part of the Walter Reed Medical Center), to today's tranquil residential community.
In addition to telling the history of the site, Rosenthal's photos really enhanced our awareness of the challenging work that SOS has done, and is still doing, to preserve this historic property which had fallen into a sad state of disrepair by the 1980s. This virtual tour allowed us to appreciate the eclectic architecture of certain buildings that had served as dormitories, sorority houses (including a Swiss Chalet, a Japanese Pagoda, and a Windmill Cottage), a chapel, an elaborate indoor swimming pool and gymnasium, an elegant dining hall (now a community center), as well as music studios and classrooms. We also virtually visited a wonderfully restored ballroom that is still in use today.
For additional information regarding Save our Seminary at Forest Glen, please go to its website. There you can delve deeper into history via photos, several short videos, additional educational materials, and detailed descriptions of the various buildings, as well as information on self-guided, on- site tours. You can also contact SOS directly to volunteer, donate, or donate artifacts for their preservation efforts.
Popular Instructor Offered "Out-of-This-World" Special Event
By Kris McLaughlin, Special Events Committee Chair
Lynne Platt spoke on Monday, October 26, to nearly 100 people about the following topics:
- Space 2020 and How We Got Here
- Civil, Commercial and Military Space Sectors
- Political Imperatives, Big Space and Disruptive Influences
- New Space and the Billionaires
- Space for All
Want to learn more? She recommended a book, entitled The Space Barons by Chris Davenport. His book is available in Arlington Public Library, cosponsor of this event.
It's the story of a group of billionaire entrepreneurs who are pouring their fortunes into the epic resurrection of the American space program. Nearly a half-century after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, these Space Barons-most notably Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, along with Richard Branson and Paul Allen-are using Silicon Valley-style innovation to dramatically lower the cost of space travel, and send humans even farther than NASA has gone. These entrepreneurs have founded some of the biggest brands in the world: Amazon, Microsoft, Virgin, Tesla, PayPal-and upended industry after industry. Now they are pursuing space, the biggest disruption of all.
Notice to Members
At the September 25, 2020 meeting of the Encore Learning Board of Directors the board approved the amendment of the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws to reflect the change in the anti-discrimination policies and struck the requirement of members to live in the Washington, DC area. Members shall have the right at the Annual Meeting to reject any Amendment to the Bylaws made by the Board since the previous Annual Meeting. The next Annual Meeting is scheduled for May 20, 2021.
Please keep your account information up to date. We need to be able to recognize you when you login to one of your classes on Zoom. Please use both your first and last names when prompted by Zoom. If you are dialing in by phone, please use a number that is in your account record.
Change your email address? Please send an email to let staff know. Unfortunately, if you make the change yourself in Member Account Manager, it does not make all the necessary updates.
Our staff are all working remotely during this time, with no specific open hours, but checking email regularly. The fastest and best way to reach us is via email to email@example.com.
Voicemail messages are checked once daily.
Lora Pollari-Welbes, Executive Director
Connecting Friends with Encore Learning
We're often referred to as the "best kept secret in Arlington." New members join mostly because they hear about Encore Learning from a friend. When joining online, new members may enter a "Referred by" name. We look forward to thanking you here in the newsletter - see below.
Ask friends to join our virtual "Encore Learning Presents"
series (normally held at Arlington Central Library). These lectures, panels and films are open to the public and a great way for prospective members to learn more about us. Details can always be found in our list of upcoming Special Events.
Share on social media. When you simply like our Facebook page or share our Facebook posts and events to your social network, it's a huge help. Forward our emails to a friend - use the handy link at the bottom of each email message.
Welcome New Members
In September 2020, the following new members joined Encore Learning. Please be sure to give these folks a warm welcome.
THANK YOU to all of you who kindly referred friends:
Ellen Hanson (twice!)
Cressida McKean (twice!)
Donations are Always Welcome
Encore Learning is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Any donation is a charitable contribution deductible from income tax to the full extent permitted by law. Members, friends and organizations wishing to support Encore Learning may direct contributions to our General Fund or to our Arlington Youth Scholarship. Over the past month we are receiving donations in memory of Art Gosling to the Arlington Youth Scholarship which will help sustain the award and potentially grow the amount over time.
Also, please know that you may consider Encore Learning in your estate planning. Perhaps you would like to consider naming Encore Learning as the beneficiary of a charitable remainder trust. If you would like to discuss this further, please reach out to Lora Pollari-Welbes, Executive Director.
We hope you enjoyed this edition of The Inside Scoop. If you would like to submit an article or share some photos of members participating in Encore Learning activities, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.