Attended by Geraldine McCorkell and Judith Borthwick representing Benalla U3A.
The objectives of the forum were:
- To identify a range of informal, formal and practical feedback opportunities, tools and techniques for the different stages and issues of course development and implementation.
- To share Course Co-ordinators experiences of feedback and evaluation used to identify, to respond to and resolve different situations.
- To provide the opportunity for all participants to engage with each other and exchange U3A Course Co-ordination ideas and experiences.
The table Benalla U3A were allocated had members representing Hawthorn, Bayside, Sydney Central U3A and 2 others. Their memberships ranged from 800 to 1500. The two larger U3A’s had 2 people manning a 5 day week office.
The problem of the empty classroom syndrome where people enrol and then stop attending were attributed to: were the name and title appropriate; poor content, too short/too long, accurate Course description, Friday pm not the best time to run a course.
Members disappear – need to know why, but the membership is still growing – personal communication suggested.
Ideas for addressing this included; informal chats, feedback from individuals, systematic informal feedback; tutors ask participants for feedback at the end of the course/year to gauge quality and content of activity.
Welcoming newcomers – monitor how they are welcomed into a group.
Tutors – sometimes difficult to get quality tutors.
U3A Online administered from Queensland University offer 50 courses, including 2 Australian History. Convenor or leader prints off the material needed for each session.
All the bigger U3A’s – over 100 members – had waiting lists. These caused a lot of frustration and upset many people.
Two suggestions were:
- Provide an enrolment form each class/activity during November so those wishing to participate again the following year can re enrol before Enrolment day.
- Offer the course i.e. Computers for six weeks, and have 2 per semester.
Guest speaker Kim Johnston Co-ordinator of Research and Evaluation at EACH, a community Health Organisation, led the group through Sustaining and Building a Feedback/Evaluation Culture within U3A’s.
- Feedback evaluation can improve content
- Need to meet the needs of participants
- Marketing strategies
- Handbook for tutors/convenors is necessary
- Plan – Develop – Collect - Analysis and interpretation – Reporting and Dissemination – Use.
A basic Survey Monkey is free, but one of the larger groups (Bayside I think) paid $19 a month for use of this tool.
- Elsie Mutton made a brief appearance between important meetings and stated that UMAS had been used in Nunawading with 800 enrolling online whilst 250 attended the office in person because of lack of technology or not skilled at using it.
- The U3A Conference will be on the 4th and 5th September and will be titled `Challenges for the Future’.
Judith and I both enjoyed the Forum and talking to other members. Apart from the fact they put the wrong address for the Celtic club on the form which left Judith and I wandering around Queen St. for a while in the rain until a member of the Network who was looking for `strays’ found us. Oh dear!!!