Chesapeake Forum, an Academy for Lifelong Learning, has announced that courses will be conducted in-person at the Easton Family YMCA at Peachblossom beginning with the Winter Semester of 2022. Teaching will be using what is known as Hybrid learning where participants can choose between attending in-person, joining thru Zoom, or waiting for the recording.
“Chesapeake Forum board members looked at a number of location options around Talbot County with the realization that the cost of creating a Hybrid Classroom limited us to one location for Hybrid learning,” said Board President Lynn Randle, “Robbie and Jen Gill with the YMCA of the Chesapeake made it an easy decision when they jumped in with a level of support for our instructors that would help immensely in this transition.”
“Support for the senior community is part of our mission here at the YMCA,” described Jennifer Gill, Chief Operating Officer for the YMCA of the Chesapeake that operates eleven YMCAs on the Eastern Shore. “We truly welcome Chesapeake Forum’s Lifelong Learners here in Easton and hope to duplicate efforts like this elsewhere.”
Winter semester courses start January 20th with the Forum’s Distinguished Visiting Scholar Event and continue thru the end of March. Courses will be held primarily both morning and afternoon on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at the YMCA. There are twenty-one courses to choose from in the Winter semester covering a broad range of subjects.
The Spring semester runs April thru June and already has over twenty course proposals being considered, according to Randle. “Our instructors rose to the challenge of adapting to Zoom and we are very pleased to see how quickly they have jumped on board to meet this new challenge of Hybrid teaching!”
With a financial gift from the Prager family, Chesapeake Forum was able to make the investment in the equipment necessary for creating the Hybrid Classroom at the Easton Family YMCA. In the Hybrid Classroom setting, the instructor, course participants in the classroom, as well as those participating thru Zoom, will all be able to see one another. A two screen solution will allow instructors to share a PowerPoint presentation or Video on one screen while using the other to show the participants on Zoom. A sophisticated camera and audio system using Zoom Room allows everyone to hear and see each other as well as the screen presentation. Most course sessions will also be recorded.
“Our 2021 member survey showed us that well over 60% of our Lifelong Learners wanted to get back in the classroom this Winter, but we are also aware that since going to Zoom and recording classes, the recordings have been the choice of nearly 50% of our registrations,” described Randle. “Clearly, convenience is a big plus, but regaining the social interaction of getting back in-person was a driving factor in our decision to create a Hybrid Classroom.”With the Zoom Room functionality, further uncertainties having to do with COVID also allow the organization to easily switch back to Zoom if necessary.
Since its inception three years ago, Chesapeake Forum has seen a growth rate of 20% every year. “Zoom actually helped broaden our ability to build a community of Lifelong Learners,” concludes Randle, “But all indicators are that Hybrid solutions are here to stay. We hope to see a lot more of our Lifelong Learners who had held off from using Zoom join us now as we get back into the classroom!”