Senior citizens head back to class with remote learning

BOSTON — As kids and teens settle in behind laptops and monitors for remote learning, there’s a new age group now logging on.

“I live in an over-55 community, many of my neighbors are alone; they are widows or widowers. Many of them take WISE classes,” said Barbara Groves of Holden, Mass.

Barbara Groves and Tej Maini are members of the Worcester Institute for Senior Education or WISE, which is sponsored by Assumption University:

“The vision of WISE is to be a learning community that offers older adults intellectual stimulation, socialization, personal growth and opportunities for service. Through the peer-learning concept, members share their knowledge and experience with each other by creating, coordinating and participating in courses.”

“Not only are the students seniors, the instructors are seniors as well,” said Monica Gow, director of WISE.

Courses include everything from history to geology in Massachusetts and beyond.

“We have continuation of the Beatles, we have more about rock in the 60s and a couple on the election,” Gow said.

“I just took a course on the media and, frankly, at this time the media is pretty important, and it was wonderful,” Groves said.

Tej Maini is a former M.D and believes that sense of community is so valuable during this pandemic.

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“The opportunities to not only learn but interact with other people and exchange ideas and information and so on, that is what makes all the difference,” Meini said.

Remote learning becomes a course in itself when it comes to technology like Zoom.

“We didn’t grow up with these devices in our hands,” Groves said.

WISE also provides help to navigate.

“For those members who don’t feel too comfortable with Zoom, on Mondays our technical person has Zoom cafes he calls them,” Groves said.

There are no grades, no failing, just a motivation that is young at heart.

“I’ll use an age-old expression, it’s important to keep your brain alive,” Maini said.

A yearning to understand more about the fascinating world around us.

“I think it’s a love of learning that they have,” Gow said.

WISE has over 300 members and has room for many more. There are 16 courses ready to launch towards the end of the month. Each session runs for 5 weeks. Information about WISE can be found here.

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