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Senior learners Zoom into OLLI classes

Last updated August 24, 2020

By Tina Underwood

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Furman University is now accepting registrations for its fall classes, which begin Sept. 14 and run through Nov. 13. Sixty-four live-online classes are available through Zoom and cover languages, art, religion, history, yoga, acting, cooking, personal finance and much more.

Registration is ongoing up to the first day of class, Sept. 14.

To participate in Zoom classes, an OLLI membership is required. The cost for membership per academic year is $50, which allows members to take courses/bonus events, join special interest groups and participate in OLLI social events.

OLLI members may then choose to purchase individual courses ($35-$50 each) or a package of courses at a lower per-class rate.

Now in the midst of offering its second series of classes since the COVID-19 lockdowns began, OLLI Director Nancy Kennedy says delivering classes via Zoom has resulted in some welcome consequences. “We’ve been able to increase capacity for most of our courses because there are more Zoom seats than there are in our physical building,” she said.

Kennedy is also thrilled about clearing the biggest hurdle among OLLI members – just getting them to try Zoom. “We’re running Zoom orientations almost daily. We’ve learned that if we can get somebody on Zoom, they can do it, and they come to realize they are more computer-savvy than they ever imagined.”

The same goes for the all-volunteer OLLI instructor pool. Many of them OLLI members themselves, instructors are honing their Zoom teaching skills – sharing screens, running polls, sharing PowerPoints, managing break-out rooms and more, Kennedy says.

An added public health benefit of OLLI online is that it imparts a skill that helps keep members safe during the pandemic. “Our members are having to set up doctor’s appointments virtually, they can Zoom with their families and so many other things,” Kennedy said.

Most important, Kennedy is happy OLLI gives members a way to virtually connect with friends and ‘get out of the house’ while sheltering in place. And even during a pandemic, she says OLLI remains the place “where learning never retires.”

Learn more at the OLLI website. Or contact the OLLI office at 864-294-2998, and

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