Who likes feeling stupid?

Everybody needs a Margaret on their Zoom course! As COVID-19 impacted, she immediately recognised fellow students lacked confidence and skills to move from face-to-face to online learning. As a Zoom champion, Margaret’s intervention encouraged many to have a go at free summer classes. WEA online courses threw a lifeline – and Margaret made sure her community grabbed hold. 

We’re all Zoomers now!

I joined the WEA after I retired about 10 years ago and was quickly roped in to be treasurer for a branch. I loved learning with the WEA – especially the arts courses, having done sciences all my life. It was so empowering to enter a museum on holiday and then recognise the names of the artists.  

The WEA is really an extended family – at least our branch feels like that. When lockdown came, some of our members were left out in the cold, because they didn’t have the technology skills.  

One of the lady members could read emails on her tablet, but nothing more. She was on her own and was determined to stay connected. I sent her a Zoom link, but she had no idea what a ‘link’ was. There’s something underlined in blue, she told me on the phone. And we went from there. She's now actually started online shopping! And Zoom is absolutely a lifeline, especially for people who live by themselves.  

When we started having mini Zoom coffee mornings, the chair asked if I would go through some Zoom tips with the group. We've got a number of people that come from very successful careers, so they’re not used to feeling stupid. But that’s how technology can make you feel, through no fault of your own.  

I was a secondary school maths teacher, which probably explains why I want to help people to solve problems. With teenage students, you have to be careful otherwise maths can send them into panic mode, where nothing makes sense and their brain gives up. Technology can do the same. Everybody has different systems and applications too, which can make things even more complicated.  

We all enjoy the social side of the WEA. However, many people in our branch, me included, are saying that they would like the future to be a mixture of face-to-face and Zoom classes. I have certainly welcomed being able to do courses held by different regions which I couldn’t possibly have travelled to. We’re all Zoomers now!  

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