SPLC Online

Learning for Seniors in the 'Zoom' Era

23 Apr 2020

By Gerry Derksen

Hoorah! I am retired, no more worries about technology or so I thought.

My generation born in mid 1940’s started with a slate pencil writing on a slate board. You think I am kidding? I am not talking about clay tablets but not far from it. Then we adapted to the computer era in the 1980’s.

How the world has changed.

Learning Spanish at the South Perth Learning Centre opened up a whole new world. Sitting in a classroom again trying to remember all those new Spanish words. Other activities I enjoyed at SPLC were drawing, poetry and the International and Current Affairs group.

BANG-suddenly the killer Corona virus hit the world in February 2020 with social distancing. No more face to face teaching in the near future. Could we use video conferencing? We had all heard of ‘Skype’, maybe that would work.

The we heard about ‘Zoom’ I thought that was the sound of cars drag racing. But no, it was video conferencing software. Well we have adapted to smart phones and tablets so how hard could it be to use “Zoom”? Well … let me tell you.

Oh, I will see if I received the email with instructions inviting me to join the teacher of Spanish Alicia Zablah in a ‘Zoom’ trial lesson.

Me: “Alicia I cannot find the email”

Alicia: “But I sent it to you”

Me: “Please ring me or text me with the sign in details”

There was some confusion and difficulty in establishing a “Zoom” connection.

Alicia: “Gerry we better see Didi Mudigdo at South Perth Learning Centre to help us”

Didi set up the two laptops and showed us how ‘Zoom’ worked. He had helped me before setting up a power point presentation for the International and Current Affairs group. What about the lost email? It had gone to spam on my mobile.

Alicia and I ran a few trial sessions to learn more. The main road block was the 40 minutes time limit on the free version of ‘Zoom’. There were also some security problems as ‘Zoom’ surged from 50,000 clients to 500,000 as a result of the Corona virus and social distancing.

Initially we used ‘Skype’ for Spanish lessons. It worked; our world had changed forever.

In the mean time, I started using ‘Zoom’ with International and Current Affairs group. I also used ‘Zoom’ with two other organizations-do I know how to work it now? Yes, well… err… sort of.

Of course, the camaraderie of meeting face to face cannot be wholly replaced by electronic gadgets. I miss those slaps on the back by people saying “Are you alright?”