Maria Chester was born in Argentina and has lived and worked in other Latin American countries but has resided in Burnmouth, Scottish Borders, in the United Kingdom since 2003. Multilingual, Maria is Secretary General of AIUTA, the International Association of Universities of the Third Age, which has its headquarters in Toulouse, France. Maria is also a member of the International Committee of Britain’s Third Age Trust, the umbrella organization for the 1,000+ U3As in the United Kingdom, and serves as the Trust’s national advisor on American archaeology. She holds a degree in fine arts and art history from the University of Buenos Aires and is an accredited lecturer with the Arts Society in London, England. She lectures widely on arts and archeology in the UK and has delivered lectures by videoconference to North American audiences.
How Videoconferencing Saved Later-Life Learning and Can Now Enhance It
Kevin M. Connaughton is the Manager of Adult Learning for the National Resource Center for Osher Institutes (Osher NRC) at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois. His work with the Osher NRC focuses on instructional design, digital learning development, media creation, and content development. Additionally, Kevin has over 15 years of experience in higher education; previous roles included faculty, administration, training, instructional design, and consulting roles. He holds a Master of Education degree from St. Xavier University and Master of Fine Art degree from Governor’s State University. Kevin is also an exhibiting artist, showing work in numerous galleries throughout the country.
Ann Keating is the Scottish Trustee for the Third Age Trust. She is also the Chair of the Communication and External Affairs Committee. Her role as Scottish Trustee is to support and develop local u3as. An important initiative in response to Covid was to start an online learning platform for Scottish u3as so they could keep learning and stay connected during lock downs. Her role as Chair of the Communications and External Affairs Committee is to oversee a group who provide strategic guidance and oversight of the Trust Groups’ external communications, relations with external organisations, promotional materials, and brand. Ann is a graduate of the Glasgow School of Art and the Open University. She has taught art and worked with children with special needs in the UK, Canada, and Italy. Her work with children with special needs reenforced her belief in the benefits of technology in the field of education. Ann now lives in Edinburgh with her husband who is a professor of Politics. She is an active member of Edinburgh u3a. She draws, plays tennis, walks the hills, tends her garden and is edging ever closer to supporting Scottish Independence.
Martin Coles is the Chair of the IT committee at the McGill Community for Lifelong Learning (MCLL) in Montreal. Since 2019, he has worked with MCLL to implement hybrid learning via Zoom technology. He is currently assisting with an upgrade that will see all four MCLL classrooms fully equipped with cameras and microphones for hybrid study groups and lectures. Before becoming a photographer and writer, he obtained degrees in mathematics and philosophy.
Harry Belsey is a graduate of the University of London (maths and physics) and has had a career with a background in IT, management consultancy and the oil industry. He has spent many years working overseas, including North America. He currently delivers four courses for the University of the Third Age, Cambridge (U3AC), UK; all are Zoom based and have been so for several years. Two of the courses are designed and delivered to the Cambridge area only, military history and a current affairs discussion group. Harry is in the management team that designed and deliver two transatlantic discussion groups: one on current affairs and the other an Economist newspaper readers group. All these courses run on a weekly or monthly basis all year round, except for military history which runs weekly for about 35 weeks of the year. Harry has been with the U3AC for more than 10 years.
Frank Nicholson, Ontario 3rd-Age Learning Videoconferencing Working Group, Canada
Maria Chester, International Association of Universities of the Third Age, France
Kevin Connaughton, National Resource Center for Osher Institutes at Northwestern University, United States
Ann Keating., U3A Trust, England
Martin Coles, McGill Community for Lifelong Learning, Canada
Harry Belsey, University of the Third Age (U3AC), England
Presenter #1, Maria Chester
Ms Chester will provide an overview of the concept of later-life learning, its spread around the world from its beginnings in Toulouse, France, in 1973 and the benefits it has brought to older adults since then.
Presenter #2, Kevin Connaughton
Mr Connaughton will describe the Bernard Osher Foundation and the 123 Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes (OLLIs) in the United States and explain how some OLLIs were using distance education before the arrival of the pandemic and how these efforts have vastly expanded since then. TO BE COMPLETED
Presenter #3, Ann Keating
Ms Keating will explain how Individual U3As in the United Kingdom introduced online interest groups in response to Covid restrictions while the Trust itself launched a nationwide network of such groups, and Online Across Scotland connected isolated rural U3As to urban U3As as part of what has become known as the New Enlightenment. While it was COVID-19 that prompted the Scottish movement to go online, the intention is to use the experience to build a longer-term capacity to operate through this medium even when in-person activities are resumed.
Presenter #4, Martin Coles
Mr Coles will provide an overview of Canada’s later-life learning movement, including its varying organizational models (community-based vs. university/college-affiliated), learning models (courses/talks by experts vs. peer-led study groups), geographic concentration (Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia) and languages (English and French). He will go on to describe how most Canadian organizations managed to take their operations and programs online when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, relying mainly on technical support by member volunteers and a Canada-wide weekly Zoom hosting workshop. He will conclude by outlining the range of hybrid (physical + virtual) initiatives being contemplated for the post-pandemic era in Canada.
Presenter #5, Harry Belsey
Mr Belsey will offer his thoughts on the lessons for how internet videoconferencing can be used to facilitate the exchange of perspectives internationally.