Registration for the Montclair Institute for Lifelong Learning (MILL) launched on schedule on April 6, but participants will find that the timetable is practically the only aspect of the program to remain unchanged from prior semesters.
When the Division of Senior Services/Lifelong Montclair closed Edgemont Park House for programs in early March, staff began investigating ways that programs could continue remotely. Senior Services Coordinator Michelle DeWitt tested platform options with various program groups who regularly met at Edgemont Park. Zoom emerged as the most practical platform.
“Once the platform was determined we reached out to all of our MILL instructors to develop a semester that stays true to the MILL vision, despite the unprecedented situation we are all facing,” said Director of Senior Services/Lifelong Montclair Director Dr. Katie York.
The Montclair Public Library will provide virtual Zoom training for MILL students, and Manhattan Prep is donating a hands-on workshop for the MILL instructors to hone their online teaching skills.
“Our first priority has been making sure our residents are safe and fed,” said Dr. York, referencing the Township’s partnership with Toni’s Kitchen and other community partners to distribute food to older residents. “But we also want to do all we can to prevent social isolation as much as possible. Remote class instruction is a positive step that will help our older residents remain engaged while participating in some truly great learning opportunities.”
By moving to remote classes the MILL is now able to accommodate more students this semester with 14 courses, most of which now have an enrollment capacity of 300. Some classes require a student to view the instructor’s video and while others can be accessed with just a phone. Many classes will be re-aired on Montclair TV34.
Partners for Health Foundation committed additional funding to ensure a smooth transition to all-remote programming.