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We at Zoom are so proud when our video collaboration software is used by people to make the world a better place. That’s why today we want to share the story of the Senior Learning Network with you. Senior Learning Network is a mission-driven company focused on providing interactive video conferencing to senior residential and walk-in/community centers. Through Zoom video meetings, the Network connects retired adults with educational institutions and experiences.
To answer that question, let’s go back to the beginning. Former teachers Ellen Ervin and Lynne Beachner watched their parents and grandparents grow older. They knew they didn’t want to age the same way. “My grandmother lived alone in a small rural town,” explained Lynne, “She just stared out the window. She lived to be 103. I knew we wanted to focus on the concept of life-long learning. I always want to keep learning.”
This passion for life-long learning inspired the Senior Learning Network. The Network brings remarkable people and programs to retired adults. From the comfort of their senior center, they can visit behind the scenes of the ballet and talk to dancers about their current performance or career, talk to the National Archives staff on research in genealogy, interact with authors to discuss their books and writing style, learn from scientists why they are trying to replicate spider silk, and any other place or person they want to see.
Senior Learning Network has a variety of programs in addition to their core offering of distance learning from senior centers, including professional development for their member centers, study groups, and book clubs – all over Zoom.
Good question! To support these programs and centers, Senior Learning Network purchased their own server and began testing video conferencing software. They had mixed results with their first few attempts.
Then they found Zoom. “Zoom was so much better. Some of the issues we had with the other product – freezing, getting out of sync – we don’t have those problems with Zoom. We are sold on Zoom,” said Lynne. Ellen added, “Once we found Zoom we never looked back. The quality of the audio and video: you just can’t beat it, especially for older adults with hearing and vision loss.”
Lynne also noted that some of the museums they work with liked the experience so much they are switching over to Zoom too.
As for the big picture, Ellen said, “We want to take lifelong learning to anywhere throughout the world!
Lynne added, “We want to connect older adults around the world, allowing them to interact, and talk about and solve issues. We’re starting with education but we’re pursuing interaction.”
Senior Learning Network offers 600 programs – either free or highly affordable – from their website. They currently serve about 25 centers across the US, but by January 2015 they expect to bring on another 25 centers.
Additionally, they are currently piloting a program with six members who are joining the educational experiences from their own homes via Zoom. If this works, Senior Learning Network could increase their user base to include those who do not have the ability or desire to leave their homes.
Finally, they’re hosting fundraisers over Zoom for their rural constituents to help them pay for the modest Senior Learning Network program fees.
We’re proud to be along for the ride with Senior Learning Network. As Ellen said, “Zoom really opens up the windows. It’s just a matter of training people on a little bit of technology. All kinds of possibilities are now open for us.”
We plan to check back in with Ellen and Lynne in 2015 to see how they’ve progressed on these plans. Stay tuned!
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