"The lies we want to believe tell us something about ourselves."
-- Eula Biss, Having and Being Had

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Old Dog, New Trick

     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.!
 

28 comments:

gigi-hawaii said...

I have never tried Zoom, but I know a yoga instructor who leads a class that way.

DJan said...

I take my yoga classes via Zoom these days, and once a week my hiking buddies get together for an hour-long meeting to see what people have managed to do during the week. Next, I need to learn how to schedule a meeting! :-)

Miss Merry said...

We have adult children proficient in Zoom so we are the click and joiners. We started by having Easter Dinner with four out of five children and their families and have joined birthdays,picnics and a family whine and cheese party. I branched out to some click to join classes and tea parties (yes, that's a thing, an author talk and now my genealogy association is holding monthly meetings and guest lectures. And, of course, we zoom in for class orientations and teacher meetings with our virtual schooling grandchildren while parents are working. Who ever knew this would become a thing. Thank goodness for zoom!

Sue said...

Dear Tom and Friends, while thankful for the technology (if there was no internet, there'd be no sermonaudio to listen to, but anyway...), it's saddening that people are afraid to get together face to face.

Janis @ RetirementallyChallenged said...

Zoom has been a tremendous help during Covid isolation. I've taken classes, participated in discussions, gotten together with friends - including a group of blogger friends - celebrated birthdays, spent needed face-time with family, and even wrote a short story where Zoom was featured. I'm not a big phone person but, for some reason, Zoom doesn't bother me as much. I guess Zoom predated the virus, but it is as if they were made for each other.

Wisewebwoman said...

Good for you, Tom & B. Zoom has been incredible throughout 2020. I was an early adopter. And mastered the screen sharing, hosting, monitoring and removing, etc.

It is excellent as we age to expand our learning capabilities. I don't understand the many elders who shy away. But I believe it is fear, expressed as contempt.

XO
WWW

Arlene whitehouse said...



Yes ,I too have learned how to zoom and join Microsoft meetings.our park district offers a lot of online courses.some classes they send materials online and some you have to do curbside pickups to pick up materials.but it is great and breaks up the day.all this technology lets us keep in touch with family and friends and learn new things.

Jeanette Lewis said...

I love Zoom -- it has kept so many of us socializing during the pandemic. I've taken yoga classes, joined our grand daughter's birthday party, attended a few 'happy hour' meetups and attended several book club meetings on Zoom. I haven't hosted a session nor attempted to share slides or videos as you are about to do when you teach your class.
My only regret about Zoom -- I wish I had bought the stock before the pandemic! Hindsight is always 20/20!

Tom said...

I guess that's a silver lining to Covid -- we're all learning new technologies, new ways of interacting, new ways of of coping in a different environment. So if learning keeps us young, then we'll all be adding some extra years to our lives.

Olga said...

My entire life lately has taken place on Zoom. I taught a youth religious ed program over the summer, I meet with three writing groups, and have get togethers with friends, and I am taking a couple of classes and participate in some meditation groups -- all though the miracle of Zoom.

ApacheDug said...

Tom I may be retired, but you're the kind of retired person I aspire to be. This was pretty impressive (though I had to chuckle at your review of 'Rushmore', I didn't exactly get much from that film either). Anyway, I have yet to use Zoom but you (and some of these other commenters) have certainly got me curious...

Laurie Stone said...

I went from never hearing of ZOOM at the first of this year to having it a big part of my life. Its not as good as in-person, but my weekly writing workshop could never meet without it, so I'm grateful.

Barb said...

I've come to Zoom slowly. But these days ur church even has happy hour via zoom, and like you, our senior college (Olli)classes will be on Zoom here. The quilt guild I would normally join will be on zoom. Personally I'm grateful for the technology and wonder what we would all do without thise various ways to keep in touch.

Arkansas Patti said...

Quite impressed with your Zooming experiences. Way to go. I am still a trickless old gal and have yet to try it. Maybe soon?

Tom said...

Dug and Patti -- It's not that hard and can be a lot of fun. Go for it!

Rebecca Olkowski said...

I have been using Zoom for several years so I had a heads up. I can't believe how well the platform is doing since the pandemic. It would have been a good investment had we known. I have the Pro Version and it connects to my Google calendar and scheduling app for interviews and tutorials I do. Love, love, love it!

Meryl Baer said...

So much in common! My hub has become a Zoom expert, teaching others how to use it. We also have a Pro account.
And he will be moderating a Great Decisions course this fall, starts October. I so enjoy your posts!

Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com said...

Hi Tom! Good for you and B for being so Zoom savey. Thom and I have zoomed mainly for Happy Hour and also be a part of a group of Bloggers. But we haven't even thought about teaching a class and only use the "free" version. About the only learning thing I have been doing is practicing Spanish. I've talked about it for years now (took it back in H.S.) but forgotten a lot of it. It will be interesting to see how all this online interaction sticks around (and possibly helps to benefit) our lives going into the future. ~Kathy

Linda Myers said...

Similar here. I'm part of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, a program for senior adults. I'm taking half a dozen classes this fall on Zoom, and I signed up to be the tech host for classes called "British Mayhem" and "Meditation for Everyone". I spent about eight hours learning about it. It's really gratifying to know that we can all "pivot" from in-person to virtual to continue the activities we love. I'm also participating in Zoom meetings for my faith community (I'm a UU) and recovery communities (AA and Alanon).

Congrats to you and B for your learning and your work!

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Happy said...

Not to be outdone by Zoom now Google has Google meet. I hear it is really good as well.

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Kay said...

Wow! I am so impressed. I'm at the pre-school level of Zoom. When we Zoom with our family, my 13 year old granddaughter tells us what to do.

Nancy L Coiner said...

Yes! Zoom is not as great as meeting in person, but it's a heck of a lot better than nothing!

I'm doing the same thing -- taking classes via Zoom and looking at teaching one (at our LIR -- Learning in Retirement) this coming spring. I'm glad I have time to learn what I need to know.

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