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Exmouth and District u3a – A New Style of Interest Group

Exmouth and District u3a has created a different sort of interest group specifically with Covid-19 restrictions and lockdown in mind. Using our own ‘Connect & Learn’ website, I launched an online Astronomy for Beginners Group on 1 January 2021 to run for a fixed period of three months.

I established our u3a ‘Connect & Learn’ website, which complements our main u3a website, in 2019. It’s available for all members to look at and use at any time, and I have created a collection of resources and guidance on a number of topics. There are also other sections of the website about computers and video-calling for those members who need support in these areas. In addition we have an ever-changing Ideas section which ties in with our u3a Facebook Group.

Building on this, I decided to start an experimental u3a group, ‘Astronomy for Beginners.’

It is very different from other groups:

• It is for a fixed period, running from New Year’s Day until Easter, with a selection of different activities and resources made available each week.

• It is open to all our members with no upper limit on numbers. The main link to it is a dedicated webpage on our Connect & Learn website. This can be accessed at any time – it had over 120 page views in the first two weeks.

• For those members who want to be more directly involved, they can sign up to a weekly email, delivered  via Beacon. This gives extra information and the chance for a dialogue. I had 24 of our members sign up to this within the first two weeks.

• Members on the email distribution list can join an online discussion via  Zoom. The frequency of this depends wholly on members’ wishes. If the sky conditions are right, we may even be able to try ‘outside broadcasts’ from our gardens!

There has been positive feedback so far.

It has also provided the stimulus for other short-term ‘pop-up’ groups to be established along similar lines. I am aiming to start a Mindfulness and Meditation Group based on resources posted on a separate webpage. So we are certainly keeping ourselves busy and learning together during lockdown and beyond!

For further information please look at our Connect & Learn website.

Are you finding unique ways to run your interest groups virtually? Get in touch with us at communications@u3a.org.uk