VIU ElderCollege offers both online and in-person courses for learners

Regan McKeever uses an iPad to view the VIU ElderCollege website.

Regan McKeever, VIU ElderCollege Program Coordinator, scrolls through the landing page of the program on an iPad. Vancouver Island University Photo

July 26, 2022 - 10:45am

Online learning opportunities for Vancouver Island University (VIU) ElderCollege students are here to stay.

VIU ElderCollege offers learning opportunities for people who are 50 plus in the communities of Ladysmith to Bowser for courses held in person. During the early months of the pandemic the program pivoted to online classes, and moving forward, a range of both online and in-person classes will continue to be offered. The online courses can be taken by anyone in the world.

Regan McKeever, VIU ElderCollege Program Coordinator, said once they switched to online courses employees started getting questions from learners wondering if their friends or relatives that live in other cities could also attend classes. Now people from across Vancouver Island and BC, many from Victoria and Vancouver, are taking the online courses.

“We’re not advertising. It’s all word of mouth,” said McKeever. “We’ve even had one person from China and a couple people from the United Kingdom take courses.”

Donna Wilkie, who lives in Coquitlam, heard about VIU ElderCollege from her friend.

“I have a very close friend who lives on Vancouver Island and she and I communicate frequently. She was telling me about the courses and said, ‘Hey, why don’t you sign up for some. And let’s take a couple together,’” said Wilkie, adding that she has now since taken courses both with her friend and on her own.

Wilkie said she could take online courses offered by universities in the lower mainland where she lives, but many of those have additional coursework and assignments and she can’t dedicate that much time to them because of other time commitments in her life.

McKeever said offering online courses has also increased accessibility as many of their learners have mobility issues or are providing caregiving in their home and can’t come to campus.

“Even just getting into and out of a car, finding parking and getting to class can be a barrier for some learners,” she said. “Many people with mobility issues appreciate not having to spend that energy just to get to class.”

Jean Austen, who describes herself as a lifelong learner, said she likes that she can learn in the comfort of her own home. 

She particularly likes the courses that are more interactive.

“I really enjoy the courses where instructors have breakout rooms as part of the experience because that is close to being in a classroom where you get to have those interactive conversations during the course,” she said. 

Austen said she likes the option of doing both online and in-person classes. She’ll do more of the hands-on learning courses in-person such as a one-day gardening workshop she took in March. Austen thinks it’s important for seniors to continue learning.

“It’s very important for every senior to have a thirst for knowledge to keep learning because it keeps the brain more active,” she said.

ElderCollege has created a Zoom user guide for people to learn the basics and holds Student Zoom Cafés where people can learn more about how to use the program. The program also offers one-on-one training sessions if people need more help.

“The tutorials were excellent and they really helped me get more comfortable because even though I had done a little bit of Zoom in the writer’s group I belong to, I thought with university learning it was going to be much more sophisticated or a bit of a longer learning curve,” said Austen.

McKeever said some learners think they need to have a full computer setup to take a course online, but all students need is a cellphone or tablet.

Registration for fall courses opens on August 18 at 8:30 am. People can view course offerings, access the ElderCollege Student Zoom User Guide or learn about upcoming Zoom Cafés on the VIU ElderCollege website

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Media Contact:

Rachel Stern, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

C: 250.618.0373 l E: Rachel.Stern@viu.ca | T: @VIUNews


Tags: ElderCollege | Teaching and Learning