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Learning in the U3A Movement

Trustee for Wales Chris Winner talks about how the U3A movement has been facilitating learning over the last few months.

The way that many of our U3As, group leaders and members are organising and running their local learning activities has changed dramatically since March. Some U3As have come to the fore, offering a range of online learning activities, groups and events for their members to enjoy.

The National learning provision has also responded, by firstly offering the programme Summer learning activities for members to engage with. The summer activities proved to be very popular with members from across the movement. Building on the success of the summer programme, the decision was taken to follow up with a Winter programme of learning events and activities.

At the heart of the Winter programme are a number of our Subject Advisers and individual members, who came forward with ideas and suggestions. With their help and support, we have been able to offer range of different learning activities, from poetry to painting and maths to ‘making’ that our members can engage with.

The Summer talks/events also proved to be extremely popular and they enabled more members to participate than would have been possible face to face.

To fill the gap of the 2020 U3A National Summer School, a range of Summer School courses were brought online using Zoom. These proved to be so popular, that the the first Winter School programme has been planned and is open to all members. An important aspect of the Summer and Winter schools programme is the time built in for social interaction. Social interaction is one of the main reasons members join U3A.

A number of U3As, Networks and Regions run their own Summer Schools and the National programmes helps to plug the gap for members who don’t have the opportunity to attend them in their own area.

It is the intention that our National events will supplement the activities that are running locally and also showcase the potential. Local U3As have been using innovative methods to keep learning throughout lockdown – taking part in local festivals virtually, organising showcases of interest groups for members and even starting new groups, as Tunbridge Wells U3A, Penicuik U3A and Edwalton, Gamston and District U3A have done. More can be found on our Sources blog, as well as on our series, Ideas to Keep Learning.

As increasingly more U3As and members are becoming confident working online, it will become easier for such for online groups, learning activities and social events to be planned and organised locally.

What innovative ways has your U3A been facilitating learning over the last few months? Let us know by emailing communications@u3a.org.uk