ASA Conference: Aging In America 2016

More than 3,000 professionals shared ideas, perspectives and expert opinions on enhancing the quality of life of older adults at the annual Aging in America conference held on March 20-24 in Washington, D.C.

The event, sponsored by the American Society on Aging, included sessions on creativity and lifelong learning hosted by the LEARN (Lifetime Educational and Renewal Network) Constituent Group. ASA’s LEARN group produced a day-long program on “The Experiential Lightness of Aging,” with sessions on the latest trends from lifelong learning research and resultant best practices.

In sessions titled “Latest Trends From Lifelong Learning: Research and Practice and Resultant Best Practices,” and “The Boomers are Coming! Are You Ready?” Linda Maurice, M.A., Director, Lifelong Learning Institute at Nova Southeastern University, Janna Overstreet, M.A., Executive Director, Lifelong Learning Academy, University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee, and Mary Staackmann, CPP, Director of Lifelong Learning, North Shore Senior Center, discussed the boomer cohort and their efforts to prepare for the generational shift.

Staackmann noted that boomers are creating a new life stage that we don’t know much about andStaackmann noted that boomers are creating a new life stage that we don’t know much about, and are very different from the current North Shore Senior Center customer. She recommends surveying your membership, and shared the results of their recent survey: respondents want education and enrichment programs and overwhelmingly want instructor-led classes rather than online courses. Their scheduling preference was weekday mornings, followed by weekday afternoons and lastly, weekday evenings. As a result of the survey, the Center has upgraded their online presence to meet the boomer expectations of enrolling online. are very different from the current North Shore Senior Center customer. She recommends surveying your membership and shared the results of their recent survey: respondents want education and enrichment programs and overwhelmingly want instructor-led classes. Very few wanted online courses. Their scheduling preference was weekday mornings, followed by weekday afternoons and lastly, weekday evenings. As a result of the survey, the Center has upgraded their online presence to meet the boomer expectations of enrolling online.

Overstreet described a successful initiative to reach boomers in their area. The “Einstein Circle” is comprised of four sessions in the fall, eight in the winter and four in the spring. The format runs from 3:00 to 4:30 with an unpaid speaker talking for 40 minutes about a subject matter that is relevant and slightly controversial such as the legalization of marijuana or Supreme Court appointees. After the speaker, the floor is open to the group for questions and discussion manned by two volunteers with handheld microphones. The cost for each session is $6 for a non member and $5 for a member. The Center did attempt to “bundle” the sessions but found that it was more difficult to manage. Many people purchased all the sessions but a high number of “no-shows” allowed walk-ins to stand and wait for seats.

Maurice discussed the benefits of launching satellite locations as a means to reach boomers in new settings and as a revenue stream for the LLI. Nova Southeastern calls them “mini colleges” and has found success throughout the community. According to their website, “Nova Southeastern currently runs 20 extended campus programs at different residential communities and in partnership with local municipalities in the tricounty area to serve those who are unable to personally visit the NSU campus. Academic classes offered at these locations mirror those at the university center.” Maurice notes that it takes very little marketing and, as a revenue stream, has been a win/win for the LLI.

Article Source: Road Scholar, LLI Resource Network

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