Pivot to virtual Fifty and Better is success

COVID pushed debut of Cal Lutheran program online

Paloma Vargas, assistant professor of biology at Cal Lutheran, will dive into the science behind pandemics.

Photo: Brian Stethem

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – May 19, 2020) A quick pivot to virtual learning worked so well for the launch of California Lutheran University’s Fifty and Better program that an expanded schedule of online summer classes is planned.

The new program for older adults interested in taking noncredit university-level classes for the joy of learning and social engagement was set to debut in spring with four in-person courses. Because of COVID-19, Cal Lutheran reduced the number of courses from four to three and put them in a virtual format using Zoom.

The virtual courses were a hit. Nearly 100 people took one or more classes that ranged in size from 30 to 70 students. Older adults were able to connect with others and learn from experts while they stayed safe in their homes. People who live far from Cal Lutheran’s Thousand Oaks campus could attend classes they couldn’t have otherwise.

“I am sorry for the Californians who were deprived of the in-person classes, but I am so grateful for the opportunity,” said Kathy Denny of New Jersey. “All three classes truly increased my knowledge of history and art, introduced me to outstanding professors, provided many smiles and left me yearning for more.”

Five lecture courses will be offered during Summer Session One from June 1 through 26. Professor, writer and podcast host David Parsons will explore the history of suburbs in America. Paloma Vargas, assistant professor of biology at Cal Lutheran, will dive into the science behind pandemics. Art historian and professor Katherine Zoraster will delve into the art of the impressionists. Author Cary Ginell, president of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections, will look back to the folk music revival in the 1960s. And, in “Physics for Poets,” author and instructor Robert Piccioni will explore our universe and where we fit in it.

The lecture courses will meet for two hours each week on Zoom. Students can communicate with faculty members during the lectures through written messages using the chat function.

The courses on suburbia, pandemics and impressionists have optional weekly one-hour companion seminars designed for in-depth discussions between the instructors and smaller groups of students. Students will be able to speak directly to instructors on Zoom, and the seminars will be limited to 15 students each.

There are no tests or homework for any of the courses.

The deadline to register for Session One is May 27. Session Two will run from July 27 through Aug. 21. All courses are $20 each. For more information, go to CalLutheran.edu/50, email fab@callutheran.edu or call 805-493-3928.