Senior Planet News

Zoom Into Life and Learning!

BJ Wishinsky, a Senior Planet Technology Trainer, is a former software engineer and education manager. Here she shares her experience teaching our Zoom workshops, and tips for getting the most out of the curriculum.

When the pandemic shut down in-person events last spring, we selected Zoom as the platform for Senior Planet’s online sessions. For anyone with “Zoom anxiety,” we’ll be offering a free, special four-part series on Zoom periodically throughout October, November and December. No registration is needed – we hope you’ll join us!

Why Zoom?

We chose Zoom because it has high-quality audio and video, is easy to learn, and runs on a variety of devices. Anyone can attend online without signing up for a Zoom account, and the free version meets most of our community’s needs. Over time we created lectures and workshops to help you make the most of your Zoom experience. Here’s a breakdown of the four-course sequence.

The Zoom Curriculum

If Zoom meetings are new for you, the All Things Zoom talk, which is first in the series, covers how to join Senior Planet’s online events or to chat with friends and family. Whether you connect with a computer or mobile device, this overview of features, security, and tips will get you started and on your way to full participation. It really pays off, according to our attendees.

Slow start

Like many of our participants, before taking our Zoom classes Karen Lackner “had no idea how to get started and then how to navigate during a meeting.” Now, she feels more comfortable after the training and says, “it enabled me to continue to take other classes and attend various events which use Zoom as their presentation tool.”

Over time, we see more people interested in learning to host. They may use Zoom at work, want to help bring a club meeting online, or want to see friends and family they can’t visit.

If you’re thinking about creating or hosting events, the second in the series, the Introduction to Hosting on Zoom lecture, is an overview of what it takes to get started, the features available to hosts, and tips for successful hosting.

Need help setting up a Zoom account or learning to schedule a meeting and invite people to it? The third lecture, the Getting Started on Zoom workshop, provides step-by-step instructions in class and a reference handout.

And finally, when you’re ready to run that first event, the fourth and last in the series, the Hosting a Zoom Meeting workshop, walks you step-by-step through everything you need from beginning to end, including security, engaging participants, screen sharing, and breakout rooms.

Zooming Back for More!

Patrick Anderson, the volunteer co-host in my classes, is one of many students who kept returning to gain new skills. “I didn’t know anything about Zoom in February of 2020 when most of the Scouting meetings had to stop because of COVID-19. I was sent information about Zoom and how we were going to use it. Somehow, I found out that Senior Planet was giving free classes on how to use Zoom. … They helped me to use Zoom and I became the go-to guy on Zoom.” An added benefit to retaking a class is that participants ask different questions, so you always learn something new!”

Tips for Success

In the fall session starting October 12, I’ll start teaching all four classes, in sequence, over every two weeks. (Additional courses may be offered by local Senior Planet centers.)

To get the most from these sessions:

  • Check the descriptions to see what fits your current Zoom skills and comfort level.
  • If you’re already comfortable attending Zoom sessions, feel free to skip All Things Zoom.
  • Take them in sequence if possible, and you’re welcome to repeat any class for a refresher.
  • Take the classes on a computer if you can, so it will be easier to follow along in Zoom.
  • Share your questions in the Chat so they can be answered at the appropriate point in the class.

One thing I love about teaching for Senior Planet is that older adults are in class by choice and really want to learn. I hope to see you in class soon. Meanwhile, visit the Senior Planet Zoom Resource Center for handouts and video tutorials. Happy Zooming!

For information on when the Zoom classes occur, visit here.


Featured photo – “Seniors In Play” Zoom class from Senior Planet in San Antonio. Instructor Bill Gundry (top right) was a valued member of the Senior Planet community who passed away in early 2021. 


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