26 August 2020

Chair’s message

I’ve been using my evening dog walk to explore the new developments around Cambridge Railway Station. It’s a good spot to observe life moving back to normal(ish). Last Sunday in Station Square I noticed a group of four: different ages, a family perhaps, saying goodbye. And they hugged each other. My initial – automatic reaction: shocked surprise – hugging? ….. OMG. My reflection was more shock: hugging is normal. Five months ago, it would hardly have registered. Had Project Covid-19 Fear re-programmed me to repeat like a Dalek: social distancing …. social distancing? I think not but it was a salutary moment.

In the meantime, in the next few days we will launch our new look website: www.u3ac.org.uk You may wonder why we have done this work now. One important reason was to keep some perspective, not to let ‘emergency mode’ dominate and to allow business as usual to continue where possible.

The new website is a colourful evolution of and improvement on the current one, which is showing its age. One of our main aims was to make it easier for you to find the information you need. Can I suggest you have a noodle around? We think we’ve got it right but we’re always happy to hear your comments and suggestions.

Some background: our current website was designed in November 2008, the Stone Age for things digital. The ‘Comms Refresh’ project began about a year ago, well before the Pandemic. By March the budget had been allocated, the work had started: it would have been wasteful to stop. So, the Comms Refresh work on the website continued. I know from reading minutes of the meetings that it was detailed and demanding, taking place at the same time as we were moving our courses and activities online. I would like to warmly thank all involved: the Comms Refresh Team: present and past Administrators, Debbie Ganz and Nicky Morland, Secretary Penny Carter and Carol Spong our Office Manager, as well as those members who tested the website!

Susan Honeyford, Chair

New items

Allocation letters

Allocation letters will be sent out at the end of this week and should be with you next week. Your membership card will be attached to the letter and your August newsletter will be enclosed.


Beginners’ Guide to using Zoom

For course participants we have produced a Users’ Guide (here) which we hope will be helpful.

Environment Group

The environment group would benefit from having new committee members. We have regular meetings and prepare and host an annual seminar open to the wider U3AC membership.

If you are interested in protecting the environment, contact the group at environmentu3ac@gmail.com

To view presentations from previous seminars, and upcoming local events, visit our page on the U3AC website.

Summer writing

In the centre of Cambridge there is a beautiful tree-shaded graveyard. Some U3AC members are forming a writing group there, weather permitting, and would love for you to join! For more information ring: 01223 696503.

Tutor Support Handbook (TSH)

As your Chair has said above, tutors are the lifeblood of U3AC.

A small team of Courses Committee members and Office staff has been working on developing a ‘Tutor Support Handbook’ that is intended to be a resource to all of our tutors and indeed any members who might be thinking of starting to teach a course in the near future.

It is written in two parts, the first of which is about the classroom, teaching and learning and all the processes involved in planning course sessions and whole courses. This includes advice and support about tutoring online with Zoom. The second part is about administrative support, with useful guidance about such things as registers, data protection and the use of premises and equipment.

Current tutors helped us to write it, providing examples of lesson plans and practical advice. A small group of tutors read an almost finished draft and gave us feedback, which we incorporated into the final text.

We hope all tutors and prospective tutors will get what they need from it. We intend to revise it during the academic year, particularly with reference to online learning.

It is meant as a resource for you to dip into, not to read from cover to cover, though there is absolutely nothing to stop you from doing that! The Tutor Support Handbook can be found here.

Maggie Balshaw, DoS (Courses) and David Burgess, Debbie Ganz and Carol Spong.

Other Organisations

U3AC is supporting other local organisations by listing their online activities on the Other Organisations page of our website https://www.u3ac.org.uk/other-organisations/