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DavidsonLearns 2020: Still Learning

by | Sep 14, 2020 | Bottom Left Box, DavidsonLearns, News

Dr. Maggie McCarthy in a pre-COVID 19 Davidson Learns conversation.


Right on schedule, the region’s lifelong-learning organization has begun its fall academic term, but in virtually unusual circumstances.

And we do mean virtually.

DavidsonLearns Executive Director Jake Jacobs encourages folks to check out the fall curriculum for courses that meet wherever you and your device may be. “We’re extremely happy to open the term,” he said, “but it took a powerful amount of resolve and technical know-how from our board and volunteers to make this online term possible.”DavidsonLearns logo

The 2020 Fall curriculum includes seven courses, each with a few “seats” still available. For example:

  • Maggie McCarthy helps us catch all the nuances as we share movies and shows we’ve loved or missed, with Understanding Visual Forms in Film, Television, and Beyond. Beginning on October 13.
  • Joe Konen’s course on the Future of the American Healthcare System that begins October 6 seems timely in the extreme.
  • And speaking of extreme times, Deborah Nelson’s course on the Spanish Civil War begins on October 5.

Think back to March 12, when the Covid-19 pandemic first came into sharp focus for much of the country. Colleges were sending students home. K–12 schools, public and private, closed their doors. Desktops, laptops, tablets, and smart phones, already central to modern life, became more critical than ever.

By late afternoon on that March Thursday, members of the DavidsonLearns board were using those tools to huddle about its still-active spring curriculum and a calendar dotted with special events. By 6 p.m. word had gone out—classes and events were cancelled until further notice.

Even for a relatively small enterprise like DavidsonLearns, the abrupt end to the term was disorienting.

“But educators and administrative teams across the country caught their balance and spent the summer turning their systems inside out,” said Jake. “Or outside in.”

Like DavidsonLearns, many have opened the new academic year fully online. From preschool through college, today’s students are digital natives who’ve had fingers on keyboards since they can remember. If even they are somewhat thrown by an all-online model, imagine that learning curve for retirees.

There’s clear support on the DavidsonLearns website, with instructions for installing and using Zoom, the meeting platform used widely by educators, corporations, and nonprofits, as well as friends and families.

“It’s an adjustment for sure, but our members are mostly computer-savvy. They’ve been Googling and paying bills, emailing and video chatting with family for some time.

“We all look forward to a return to meeting in person again, but we’re still learning,” Jake told us.

For more information about courses and support, visit DavidsonLearns.

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