Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? B and I have not only learned something this summer. We've become experts. On Zoom.
We started out attending Zoom sessions hosted by someone else. That's Zooming 101. It's pretty easy. Someone schedules a meeting, they send you an email with a link, and you open the link. The only thing you have to know is how to turn on your camera and make sure your audio is on.
We belong to the Center for Learning in Retirement (CLR) at our local university, and after closing down the spring session in March, the university decided to hold summer courses online. So I signed up for "Strategic Leadership in Times of Crisis." All on Zoom. The course focused on the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, and drew lessons about leadership from how John Kennedy and others handled that historic crisis.
So I logged in, listened to a presentation by the host, watched a few video clips he shared with us, then took part in a discussion about what we could learn from it all. The only thing I had to do was log on (see above) and then press the space bar on my keyboard whenever I wanted to participate in the class discussion.
A few days later I joined a movie discussion group through our local movie theater. We each watched the movie in advance on Netflix -- Mount Rushmore, a 1998 coming-of-age film starring Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray. Then we all logged onto Zoom. The discussion was led by an independent movie director who filled us in on some background, then opened up the session for discussion. I didn't like the movie -- I found the characters unappealing, the situations unbelievable -- but I was in the minority. What I learned is that the movie is beloved by people growing up in the late 1990s and early 2000s (ask your kids about it).
In July, B and I stepped up to actually host a CLR discussion group via Zoom. It wasn't too hard. All we had to do was figure out how to schedule the session, then admit people to the meeting and master the art of calling on people electronically. Yes, we made a few mistakes. But everyone was new at this. Our audience was very forgiving.
Zoom offers a free version, but you can also buy an upgraded version, Zoom Pro, for around $13 a month. The main advantage is that while the free version limits a session to 40 minutes, the Pro version allows unlimited time. We knew we would be hosting an hour-long course in the fall, and we wanted to set up Zoom to meet with friends and family, so we ponied up for the Pro version. Well, actually, B ponied up for the Pro version.
Since then we have held a birthday party online with Zoom. We have hosted a family reunion. We've met with a number of friends. B also does church meetings via Zoom, and she recently joined the League of Women Voters which now holds meetings on Zoom.
Lately, we've been getting ready for the class we'll host in the fall, "Great Decisions in Foreign Policy," a program from the Foreign Policy Association. We've directed this program before in person. Now we have to do it via Zoom. The format calls for us to share a video, then direct a discussion with 25 people. So we have to know how to screen share. That's the AP course in Zooming. Now we've enlisted a few friends to practice how to share a DVD video, then go into discussion mode without totally messing things up.
Does it sound like I'm bragging about how smart I am learning all about Zoom? Darn right I am!
I'd say, with all due modesty, that I have the equivalent of a Master's degree in the program. But to be honest, if I have a Master's, then B has a Zoom Ph.D.!