It’s difficult to believe that less than 60 days ago, large and small groups of curious residents were gathering to participate in lifelong learning classes. They were brainstorming, writing questions for discussion, participating in a book or author study, attending a Fireside Chat, or designing a service or intergenerational project. In other words, finding a new purpose in their lives and feeling valued, loved, and connected.

Today, those same residents are isolated, lonely, and frustrated. Their world changed almost overnight – instead of interaction and engagement, they are told to say apart and wear a mask.

For the past year, in addition to the over 400 classes that we offer, ALLE Learning has created a series of classes known as “The 21st Century.” Since the C-19 isolation began, many residents have sent me an email letting me know that because of this series of classes about technology, and disruptive innovations, they believe they were better prepared for the sudden changes.

One resident wrote, “We have had so many discussions about how things have changed in the past twenty years that almost nothing surprised me. When the staff said that we were going to start to ‘Zoom’ classes, I immediately knew what that meant. My first thought after that was, we are ‘disrupting’ the traditional classroom setting. While on a video call with my family, I told them about Zoom classes being a disruptive technology, and I thought the connection had dropped, even the grandchildren were in awe of Grandpa’s knowledge of the world. Thank you, ALLE Learning!”

That statement and the many others we have received from residents tell us that our program is a success. Residents are curious, can apply what they experience or learn in a lifelong learning class to changes in everyday life, and are proud of their participation in new things. While nothing can replace the energy produced by a room full of lifelong learners, we have learned that our path forward will continue to experience change. Keeping residents connected and engaged is our #1 priority; whether we use technology or in-person classes, we will meet the challenge.