Lifelong Learning Happens at Home
By Jamie Vishwanat, National Director of Marketing & Communications at The Oasis Institute

Seniors Log on To Virtual Classes, Find Friendship and Stimulation Amid Pandemic

We often think about virtual learning as something designed solely for young people still in school. Yet, if this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that technology has the potential to keep us connected and increase our quality of life. Why not tap into Zoom and other video conferencing software to provide adults with lifelong learning opportunities?

Virtual learning programs for seniors can keep participants engaged and mentally active, while also helping to maintain that vital human connection we have all been missing this past year. Between exercising the mind in an energizing environment and making new friends, online courses for aging adults may be the answer to promoting a renewed sense of excitement and purpose during a difficult time. Not to mention, they’re also designed to be fun!

Oasis Everywhere was launched this past year as the whole world seemingly made the jump to “going virtual.” The program is fully remote, with an expansive menu of online classes geared to seniors to satisfy a variety of interests, all from the comfort and safety of home. Anyone in the United States can access Oasis Everywhere, through a simple and easy-to-use online platform and Zoom video conferencing. The program comes from Oasis Institute, a nonprofit education organization dedicated to enriching the lives of adults 50 years or older.

The online program offers an extensive range of courses to appeal to a wide audience, taught by top instructors from across the country. Oasis currently offers 15 different categories with a variety of classes for participants to choose from, with no prior knowledge or experience needed, such as:

  • Art appreciation classes that focus on the subject of art including its history, theory and culture. An upcoming course in April is “Renaissance Art History,” where students will not only study the rich history of this time period, but then have the opportunity to use what they have learned to create their very own Renaissance-inspired masterpieces.
  • Exercise classes allow for seniors to log on and participate in an energizing group setting with trained fitness instructors. Classes are specifically designed with aging adults’ health considerations in mind, and feature options such as “Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention.”
  • History courses are led by respected educators specializing in a diverse range of areas of expertise, featuring courses to satisfy any history buff. Upcoming classes include, “The Problem We All Live With: The History of Housing Discrimination,” “The Forgotten Empire of Byzantium,” “The Enigmatic Thomas Jefferson,” and more.
  • Technology courses aim to provide seniors with everything they need to know to stay up-to-date in a digital era. Current classes that are open for registration include, “How to Use Zoom on a Desktop Computer,” “Safety First: Privacy and Safety Online,” and “Getting to Know Your iPhone.”

There are many other courses available for registration through the Oasis portal. Classes are designed to be engaging, stimulating and affordable. And, it’s not just for seniors.

“Through Oasis Everywhere, you can learn alongside your mom, dad, grandparent, neighbor or friend as we all adjust to pandemic life while also prioritizing our older loved ones who need support and care,” said Paul Weiss, PhD, President of The Oasis Institute. “We have carefully curated Oasis classes with the interests of adults ages 50+ in mind, but we have found that our topics really have a broad appeal.”

Aside from providing a platform and safe space to learn, Oasis also helps in fostering meaningful connections and relationships. Barbra Tait and Carole Morisett are two seniors who met through taking lifelong learning classes in person, pre-pandemic and grew closer through taking virtual Oasis courses. They immediately formed a fast friendship, and now schedule classes together, keep in touch via phone and when it is safe, shop or dine together. They have both appreciated the Oasis program for not only helping to keep their minds active and curious, but because it allows them to stay connected to one another.

Their friendship has been critical to combating loneliness and increased isolation during the pandemic. “I was never lonely being able to get on Zoom,” said Carole. “On days when I don’t have classes, I find myself just waiting in excitement until the next class. I really enjoy it; it helps me stay connected.”

Barbra expressed that the virtual Oasis program has helped her get through a difficult time in her life. “During Covid, this has been a lifesaver! I got depressed being alone all the time, and my dog passed away a couple of months ago, too. So, I reached out to technology – it’s been my babysitter, my entertainment, my connection,” said Barbra.

As we emerge from this pandemic, some of us may attempt to abandon Zoom and virtual options similar to it altogether. However, fully remote learning platforms will continue to provide engaging material to stimulate active minds, as well as the ability to connect and engage no matter where you are. Even as we eventually get back to some degree of normalcy, online learning programs will continue to be a viable option for seniors looking to learn, connect, and tap into their inner student.

About Oasis

The Oasis Institute is a national nonprofit organization in St. Louis, Missouri, founded in 1982, centered on a mission to serve adults ages 50 and over, during a time when many programs for older adults were oriented around childish games and passive activities. Today, almost 40 years later, The Oasis Network includes the Oasis headquarters in St. Louis, a national network of nine educational centers, spanning the country coast to coast, and program partners in nearly 250 communities across the country. Oasis’ tutoring program serves older adults interested in teaching or mentoring through partnerships in education and school districts as well as a new direct-to-consumer virtual tutoring model that brings Oasis tutors straight to your child at home or wherever they may be learning. Our volunteer programs help older adults fulfill the satisfaction of joy that comes with giving back to their communities. Find more information about the Oasis Institute on Facebook at @OasisInstitute, on Twitter at @OasisInstitute, on LinkedIn at The Oasis Institute, or via their website


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