Alex’s Last Article – Don’t Put Me at the Back

VISTA Technology Update

Alex Finnarn, VISTA member

As of November 11, 2010, you will no longer see me around the OLLI office. I’ll remain here in spirit, and hopefully someone will remember who Alex was on November 12, 2010. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here in Arizona working for both OLLI and SCORE. I’ve learned a lot about organizational structure, holding and running meetings, and how to work with committees and governing boards. Of course, I’ve also enjoyed the weather and taken advantage of a variety of outdoor activities around Arizona, Utah, and California. I went from a bumpkin with a fuzzy and worn out sleeping bag to a stoic hiker who can do Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rims without breaking a sweat. I’ll be leaving Arizona and going back to Ohio to work in community outreach for an organization redeveloping a neighborhood in Cleveland, but there will always be a special place in my heart for Prescott.

Although I will be leaving you, I’d like my ideas to continue to flourish well into OLLI’s future. I know that technology can sometimes be a pain. I, myself, struggle sometimes with remembering passwords to my online accounts, and I am honestly concerned with Google and Facebook using my private data for licentious activities. However, the benefits of technology far outweigh the negatives time and time again, and I hope you are able to see this point. Personally, with the help of Facebook, I’m able to keep in touch with people who have lent their couch to me on my trip back instead of me having to pay for a hotel. I’ve also found the best deals on a variety of electronics and picked out the right makes and models for me using hundreds of credible user reviews. I can think of several more examples where online technologies have made my life easier, and I hope you can too.

In our OLLI, there are a few key areas where I think technological progress needs to continue. The first area is putting class material and resources online. Not only does putting handouts and other materials online save paper costs to Yavapai College, but it also allows for the facilitator to make available as much material as possible to their students. Documents, pictures, videos, and web links can all be shared easily. On top of sharing prepared materials, whole class sessions can be recorded for viewing later. I know that some OLLI members take trips in the middle of a session or miss a class due to sickness, and it’s nice to have a video of a previous class that you can view to catch up. We’ve already recorded an OLLI class during the Fall 1 Session, and we’ve heard nothing but positive things from the students in that class. If you’d like to see your class recorded or your handouts placed online, start talking to your facilitator about it, and we might be able to accommodate next session’s class.

Another area where progress is needed is the archiving of our history. Lucy Hanson, our wonderful historian, has painstakingly put together years of newspaper clippings, event programs, and class schedules to make sure that we don’t forget our 17 year-long journey from an Institute for Learning in Retirement to an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and we need to make sure that her work is preserved. The simple act of a leaky ceiling or accidental fire could completely destroy the story of our OLLI, and our history would be lost forever. Thankfully, through the use of technology, we are able to scan the documents and put them online for any member to browse through at their leisure. Throughout our 17 year history, we have amassed a substantial amount of documents, and the OLLI office can surely use the help of any willing volunteer with a scanner in this process.

I can say without a doubt that this OLLI is one of the most forward-thinking OLLIs in the country, and I hope that tradition is continued in the coming years. Thanks for all the advice and conversation!


Fellow OLLI Members build da Vinci’s Cam Hammer

A class from an OLLI in southern Oregon recently built a replica of a cam hammer that Leonardo da Vinci drew up 513 years ago. The 26 OLLI members initially had a class that explored da Vinci’s experiments and accomplishments. After the class, they partnered with a program called ScienceWorks at a local museum to build a replica of the first cam hammer. Cam hammers were used by blacksmiths to more effectively work metal into shapes without using as much physical energy as required by hand. The partnership with ScienceWorks marks one of the first partnerships an OLLI chapter has made with local scientific organizations. The OLLI members were even able to get some grants from the National Science Foundation to help in completing the project.

OLLI cam hammer

You can read the full article here: click to read full article

What do you think about this project? Do you think we should be partnering with scientific organizations in our community?