The transition from the classroom
Since the inception of the Certified Aging In Place Specialist (“CAPS”) designation program in 2002, all of the classes have been offered and conducted in-person at various sites around the country. This largely worked, but there were several logistical and organizational issues that had to be met including finding available dates and locations to hold the classes and then making arrangements for participants to attend them – and assuming that there were no last-minute issues to resolve with the facility where the classes were being conducted.
Then the pandemic hit. Everything changed. In-person meetings and travel, for the most part, were restricted or even canceled. In retrospect, this transition allowed so many more people to participate. Previously, someone would need to take time off – and often factor in another day or two for travel each way to the classes – find a location that was convenient for them, and hope that enough people registered for the class for it to be held after they already had begun making arrangements to attend.
So, online classes were selected as the way to deliver the CAPS classes. Online classes had been common prior to this for other continuing education and training courses, but this was a new direction for delivery of the CAPS classes. Nevertheless, this has been a tremendous success! No looking back!
More than virtual
While many people had requested an online availability of the CAPS classes in years past, especially since so many university classes and continuing education (CE) offerings are available this way and people have become accustomed to taking them in this manner, the in-person offerings were doing well. Then, we had the big reset. We transitioned – make that switched – to online classes.
Some people refer to the online classes as virtual, meaning not really experiencing them in-person. However, the term virtual tends to imply that the classes are pre-recorded sessions, self-paced programs, or videos that one watches.
These classes are not virtual in that sense. They are live, real-time, interactive sessions where the participants are engaged, questions are posed and answered, and content is shared – often addressing the specific needs of those attending that particular meeting.
These classes are to be experienced and not just attended. There is a tendency is virtual sessions to conduct other activities while the online meeting plays in the background – checking in every so often to keep up. These classes are exactly the same as being there in-person, and in many ways even better.
Since people either couldn’t travel or wouldn’t do so – or both, with facilities not being open to hosting us and travel restrictions or quarantine rules applied to many cases, it became quite difficult to continue as we were. Therefore, the change was made from in-person offerings to online classes.
The online Zoom classes are a perfect complement to what was happening in-person, but actually turned out to be better in several key respects. The only area that expectations may not match is where people expect to sit in front of their computer and watch a video, a self-paced program that they can start or stop at will, or a lecture that can be muted or kept on in the background while multitasking with other activities.
Rather, these are live, real-time, interactive classes that in many respects require more participation than in-person versions. The content, while structured, varies a little each time with questions that are asked, the experiences of those attending, outcomes desired, current events, and group dynamics. There is no way this can be accommodated in a pre-recorded or rote presentation of the material – online or in-person.