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Fall 2021

Autumn Harvest -  Photo by Linda Tu
Autumn Harvest - Photo by Linda Tu

Bring Autumn’s wine.

Let us drink and sing the song of remembrance

To Spring’s carefree sowing

And Summer’s watchful tending,

And Autumn’s reward in harvest.

 – Khalil Gibran, as quoted on her post-it notes by Eveleen Armour


The days are getting crisper, don`t you think? Nice for taking a walk and kicking some leaves around. The fresh-picked apples are here and the tomatoes smell good. Of course, we have the new season of the Academy to enjoy.

The Opinions workshop from last season has been reviewed for you by Don Plumb. Our featured interview by Karena de Souza is all about Jill Humphries. These items are in the About the Academy section.

We have had to share with you some deaths that have occurred recently and in this issue, I pay tribute to Jean Iverson, Margrit Eichler, Mark Abbot, Viki Colledge and Eveleen Armour. Each of these marvellous people made significant contributions to the Academy.

We have two book reviews for you in the arts and letters section by Barrie Wilson and Tanya Long.

The Opinions section is all about Zoom. Are we tired of it or are there more aspects of it to challenge us in new ways? Cathy Spark and Ron Miller give us their opinions. But here is the caveat - opinions in this section are always those of the writers, and do not necessarily reflect the Academy Board's considered deliberations. So please read the cautionary preface to this section in this issue.

We hope you enjoy this edition and we welcome your comments.

                                                                                                            Linda Tu


Workshop Spotlight: Opinions

An Opinions Zoom session in Spring 2021 featured two topics about as different as possible: Black Holes, presented by Ivan Lorant, and Baking Bread in Lyon, presented by Michael Cole.

Ivan started his presentation by suggesting he should have picked an easier topic, such as brain surgery, but then delivered a concise, coherent explanation of past and current studies of black holes, how they are formed and how they might die. These astronomical bodies have gravity so strong that nothing can escape them, even light. As he paraphrased the Las Vegas slogan, “What happens in a black hole, stays in a black hole.” Black holes range in mass from double to a billion times that of our sun and, in size, from 100 m to 2 million km. Scientists from Isaac Newton to Stephen Hawking have speculated about gravity, and the study of black holes has led to new concepts and new terminology, from singularities to event horizons to “spaghettification!” Part of the spin-off usefulness of these studies has been in their application to technologies such as X-rays, radio waves, gravitational waves, tracking of orbiting stars and neutrino observations. Ivan left us with the reassurance that the nearest black hole will not be destroying Earth soon. The lively discussion that followed this complex topic was an indicator of the clarity of his presentation.

The second topic was one relevant to COVID times, recalling the shortages of flour and yeast early in the pandemic. After apologizing for not being able to provide the baguettes he had planned before Zoom times, Michael showed himself to be an enthusiastic baker and consumer of bread. Whether naan, pretzels, pita, tortillas or any other of many forms, bread is found in most world cultures. The presentation focused on one particular boulangerie in Lyon, where the baker made what the author considered the best baguettes in the world in a 14-hour process that was much more art than skill. The presentation and active discussion shared some of the subtleties of the group’s experience with bread: the joy of lining up at a favourite bakery, a favourite bread at a restaurant disappearing into a handbag, making bread on a wood stove and the thrill of watching it rise. The discussion ran out of time as participants shared their favourite bakeries in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

Altogether, the presentations were an excellent finale to the year’s diverse topics.

                                                                                                            Don Plumb



Jill and I have shared time in the same workshops, so she was no stranger.

Discover how a philosophy lecturer spends her third age. I learned more about her while spending an interesting hour together, and I am sharing some of that with you.


How did you first hear about the Academy?

Karena: Welcome to our conversation, Jill. I am always curious as to how our members first discovered the Academy.

Jill: Laura Hill had mentioned it. She was one of the first people I met when I first arrived in Toronto. At the time, I was still very busy working as a consultant. But once I retired, I thought, “I’ve got to do something to use my brain!” and that is when I finally joined. That would have been around 2007.

That first year I took Physiology with Linda Tu and a nonfiction books workshop. Then I stopped for a few years, attending the lectures at the LIFE Institute. But over time I found that quite passive. So, around 2015 I returned to the Academy, and I intend to participate as long as my body and my brain allow me to stay enrolled!

Karena: Tell me more about your volunteer work with the Academy.

Jill: I was on the Talks Committee for a number of years. With my experience it seemed to be a great place to add value. In years when my health was a challenge, I was still able to play the role of archivist. And I am hoping to work with Peter Steiner on the Curriculum Committee starting in the fall.

Karena: What have been some of the workshops that stand out for you in your time at the Academy?

Jill: I really enjoyed Linda Tu’s Web of Natural Science, which is still going, and I hope goes on for a long time. It is a particularly strong class.

Another that ran for three to four years but is no longer offered was on Architecture. It was facilitated by Gillian Long and Yvette Matyas. It started off with presentations on the Pritzker award winners and then branched out. It was a lot of work, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

And another was called “Dancing to The End of Time,” facilitated by Thea Herman and Yvette Matyas. Many of the participants in the class had been former dancers – contemporary, Broadway - which made it particularly interesting.

What fascinates me about all the workshops is the wide range of people attending them. In the architecture one we had engineers and architects and even an art critic – and people who are just interested in the topic and want to learn more about it.

That is one of the things that delights me about the Academy – the range of people and the range of topics we get to discuss. For instance, in the Cities of the Future class, the broad curriculum allowed us to delve into topics like cities on Mars that I presented and that we might not have considered. I recently re-purposed that talk with a different group and shared the concept of the Academy workshops with them.

About Jill

Karena: Were you born and raised in Canada, Jill? Tell me a little more about yourself.

Jill: The spelling of my last name suggests Welsh roots. I was born in Winnipeg and lived most of my early life in Waterloo.

I actually started out training as a medical technologist in Kingston, and then worked at the University of Virginia, mainly in medical research. But after a while I tired of making pretty colours in test tubes. I wanted something else.

So I got involved in philosophy. First as a part-time student because University of Virginia was still an all-male college in the 1960s. (Karena sidebar: This fact stunned my daughter when I shared it with her as it brought home how recently women had to fight for their seats at the tables of education and employment.)

I returned to Kingston where my mother was living and finished my undergrad and then my Master’s at Queen’s. Then I completed my PhD at the University of Waterloo. And I started teaching at the University of Pittsburgh because they offered me a job!

In 1989 I chose to return to Canada and decided that I wanted to live in a big city. That is how I ended up in Toronto. I worked as a research consultant in cultural policy and cultural management, working on projects for various organizations and government agencies as well as the Centre for Cultural Management. I officially retired in 2012.

Karena: What kind of work would you do as a consultant in this field? And is there one kind of project that stood out?

Jill: I was doing everything from writing newsletters to writing reports for the Ontario government, federal government, doing case studies and bibliographies.

I enjoyed it all. For instance, there was a study on donations to charitable foundations - comparing United States to Canada, because not only is it a bigger population, but there are an awful lot more charitable foundations in the USA.

Most people donate to religious organizations, education and social services. Culture and arts show up about fourth or fifth on the list. That was an interesting study.

Another was a case study on the Kitchener Waterloo Symphony that had a major difficulty after they hired a new artistic director. In that case I was trying to listen to both sides as a neutral observer. I had an advantage as I had grown up in Waterloo and attended the symphony often as a child. Therefore, I was able to offer insights into the community and the role of the symphony, as well as knowing a number of the people involved personally.

Karena: Aside from ALLTO, what activities fill your time?

Jill: Well, I have mentioned my interest in the arts. I am deeply involved with the field of dance. I work with an organization called the Dancer Transition Resource Center. They help professional dancers mainly at the point they have chosen to transition out of dance into other careers, which usually happens around the time they are 35 years old. The organization also provides support to dancers while they are still dancing and to young artists just entering the profession. I am the secretary of the board and that takes a lot of my passion and time.

Karena: Thank you for your time. There is so much to learn about you, and I hope the members will have the opportunity to seek you out and expand this conversation for themselves.

I see that you love the Academy. Is there anything you would say to someone considering joining our organization?

Jill: For any new members out there, I would encourage them get over the fear of presenting.

This is a welcoming and forgiving group of fellow learners, all coming to learn something new together, always willing to offer technical and moral support.  I often say in the way of support and encouragement, “You’ll get to use your brain at least once a year!”

Karena: Thank you, Jill. Maybe the next time we meet, we will get to do this in person.


Karena de Souza


It was not long after I first joined the Academy in the early 1990s that I met Laura Baldwin. She was instrumental in my soon becoming vice-president of the board and then its president the following year. It was there that I met Jean Iverson. The Academy was then just a few years old and Jean was responsible for setting up the board’s structure and operating procedures. Jean acted as the board’s secretary. I was in awe of Jean’s efficiency and quiet organizing skills in this role.  She made it easy for me to preside over the board. Jean became a good friend outside the Academy too, first as part of a movie group that later became a lunch and discussion group of a few Academy ladies.

One of the first workshops I attended was the Economist Readers, facilitated by Mark Abbot. His knowledge and flare for running this group impressed me. When Mark suggested that Jim McCartney and I take over from him I was indeed honoured. Jim and I have carried on ever since with this workshop and Mark remained an active member. His humorous tales of Yorkshire life were invariably very entertaining.

I first met Margrit Eichler in a workshop and soon got to know her as a bright woman with strong opinions about social and environmental justice. She became one of the distinguished presidents of the Academy. She invited me to join her in the cause for the respect for science by society and the country’s political leaders.

Any Academy social gathering was always enlivened by the presence of Viki Colledge. She was a spell-binding storyteller. I particularly remember her at the in-costume medieval day put on by the medieval workshop many years ago.

Eveleen Armour was another lady with flare. It was Eveleen who asked me to join the Talks Committee. Her daughter, Jenny, sent me a typed-up list of the quotations Eveleen had gathered and stuck on post-it notes around her apartment. I am sharing some of them with you. You will have noticed the first one under the leading picture of this AQR and Eveleen has the last word at the end of this issue.

Each of these people deserves to be remembered for their significant and generous participation in the Academy. Alas, my brief comments do not adequately convey their contributions as past leaders in the history of the Academy. We will miss them.

                                                                                                Linda Tu


Richard Powers and The Overstory (W.W. Norton, 2018)

In June 2021, Barack Obama recommended three books as essential reading: anything by Mark Twain, Memorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey and The Overstory by Richard Powers. Of the latter, he wrote, “It changed how I thought about the earth…and how I see things, always a mark of a book worth reading.” A short time later, Bill Gates announced his three: A Promised Land by Barack Obama, Hot Seat by Jeff Immelt and The Overstory by Richard Powers. I am in good company therefore when I say that Richard Powers is the most significant English-language novelist of the late 20th, early 21st century.

Powers was born in Evanston, Illinois in 1957. In 1968, when he was 11, the family moved to Bangkok, Thailand where they lived until 1972. In high school Powers learned to sing and to play the cello, guitar, saxophone and clarinet. He was also an avid reader of non-fiction and the classics, such as the Iliad and the Odyssey. When the family returned to the US, Powers enrolled in university and started a degree in physics, later switching to English Literature, in which he earned a Masters’ degree. He did not complete a PhD because he did not like the specialization. Along the way, he worked in a biochemistry lab and as a computer programmer, then primarily as an English professor at the University of Illinois and Stanford University in California, in the heart of Silicon Valley. The point of these details is that Powers is a polymath with an intense curiosity and love for the world around him. His various interests find powerful expression in his novels; those interests include technology, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, music, genetics, terrorism, racism and climate change.

Powers is not a prolific writer. In 30+ years (his first book was published in 1985), he has published 12 novels (a 13th, Bewilderment, is scheduled for release in September 2021). He does not write short stories, memoirs or critical essays. His novels have won numerous awards: among others, in 1989 a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Award; 1993 finalist for the National Book Award (which he won in 2006); 1999 the Lannan Literary Award, one of the most lucrative literary prizes in the world; 2018 shortlisted for the Booker Prize; and in 2019 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Overstory. In awarding the prize, the Pulitzer board described the novel as “an ingeniously structured narrative that branches and canopies like the trees at the core of the story whose wonder and connectivity echo those of the humans living amongst them.”

In The Overstory, Powers takes on the greatest challenge facing humans today: climate change. As the title suggests (the overstory refers to the canopy created by old growth forests, the foliage at the top of the trees), he does this through the issue of deforestation, the clear cutting of old growth forests and the devastation this is causing. The novel tells the story of nine individuals, all intertwined in the end like the roots of trees. These characters are Nick Hoel; Olivia Vandergriff, the heart and soul of the novel; Adam Appich, a psychologist who comes to study Nick and Olivia as they perch high in the tops of the trees in an effort to halt clear cutting; Ray Brinkman and Dorothy Cazaly, whose love of trees develops in their own back yard and whose story may have a mysterious connection to Olivia; Douglas Pavlicek, a Vietnam vet, ex-prisoner and tree planter; Mimi Ma; who gets drawn into the struggle to save trees when the city cuts down a pine grove outside her office in Portland, Oregon; Neelay Mehta, a creator of computer games whose virtual reality invention holds the promise of saving the world; and Patricia Westerford, a botanist who is the intellectual heart of the novel. Five of these characters become involved in environmental activism and eventually bond in a plan that results in a premature explosion and Olivia’s death. The other four become fugitives from the law, branded as ecoterrorists and hunted by the FBI.

Sound difficult? In a way it is, given the number of characters and the complexity of the issues. Powers is primarily a novelist of ideas and has been asked why he didn’t write a nonfiction book on the subject or create a documentary. His answer: “The best arguments in the world won’t change a person’s mind. The only thing that can do that is a good story.” This is a good story, with fully realized characters and exquisite writing. Like Barack Obama, I came away from reading it with my view of nature, especially trees, of human beings and of the profound interconnection between them changed.

                                                                                     Tanya Long



Jonathan Kaufman, The Last Kings of Shanghai: The Rival Jewish Dynasties That Helped Create Modern China (Viking, 2020).

The Last Kings of Shanghai traces the important contributions to the development of modern China by several generations of two Jewish families, the Sassoons and the Khadoories. The book is a well-written detailed social history of the world before the Communist takeover in 1949. It reminds us that China was very much at the forefront of international trade from the 19th and 20th centuries onwards.

The story begins in 1829 in Bagdad. David Sassoon was the son of one of the most prominent families in that cosmopolitan city. Bagdad was situated strategically – right at the crossroads between Europe and Asia. Intercontinental trade flowed through this city and its merchants were wealthy. Facing a huge tax bill, David Sassoon fled his home, eventually winding up in Bombay out of reach of the Ottoman government. His business skills and connections came quickly to the fore. He founded the Bank of Bombay. That enabled him to become involved in financing railway lines to ship cotton and other goods from the interior of India to the coast for export. Building huge warehouses quickly followed.

An innovative entrepreneur, David Sassoon set up Sassoon schools for employees’ children, a Sassoon General Hospital and a David Sassoon Mechanics Institute for advanced studies. These were valued perks, well ahead of what other companies in the 19th century offered as employee benefits and they fostered employee loyalty.

David Sassoon’s real challenge was to figure out how to build a worldwide multinational business empire, one that would stretch from China through India and Bagdad to the London financiers. He succeeded well before modern communications and rapid transportation. The solution was keeping ownership and leadership within the family. He had eight sons and he deployed them strategically to various countries including China to further the family’s fortunes.

The Last Kings of Shanghai then traces how the Sassoon family and, a bit later, the Khadoories established various businesses with headquarters in Shanghai, trading goods back and forth between China and other parts of Asia, Europe and Britain. David’s grandson Victor Sassoon, for instance, constructed Sassoon House, an impressive headquarters for the expanding family business. The tallest building in Shanghai, it occupied a complete block along the waterfront, the Bund. It incorporated a hotel, the Cathay, which for decades was the entertainment centre for the rich and famous.

Kaufman takes us through the accomplishments of the various generations of the two families, the men, the women, their varied interests, their challenges and rivalries. They exploited the opium market. That’s the dark side of the story with many Chinese becoming addicted. With their wealth, they built suburbs in Shanghai for non-Chinese and expanded trade. Shanghai was a city to be reckoned with: in the 1930s, for instance, it was the fourth largest city in the world. Much of its prosperity prior to the Communist regime was due to the mercantile influence of these two families.

In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Shanghai became a place of refuge for Jews fleeing Nazi aggression in eastern Europe. It was one of the few places that welcomed Jews when other countries including Canada turned refugees away. “Welcomed” might be a bit of an overstatement – “tolerated” perhaps would be a better term – but certainly not persecuted as was the case in Europe. The area in Shanghai set aside for these immigrants was shabby. Families were crowded into three and four room homes. But schools were set up; synagogues created; and people found work. The Sassoons and Khadoories played an instrumental role in helping the influx survive the war even through the Japanese occupation of the city.

Today the synagogues no longer function and Judaism is not a legal religion in China, not because of antisemitism but because of the Communist government’s hostility to any religion. After World War II, most of the Shanghai Jews emigrated, many to the USA, Israel and a few to Canada. After the Communist capture of Shanghai, the Sassoons and Khadoories moved head offices to Hong Kong and their influence in China diminished.

The Last Kings of Shanghai is a book that sheds light on the commercial and business aspect of modern China, how that country came to combine socialist centralist planning with entrepreneurial ingenuity. I enjoyed it and Jonathan Kaufman provides important background to understanding an ambitious country now in its ascendancy.

Barrie Wilson

Is Zoom Fatigue a Real Thing?

To one degree or another, Zoom has been part of our lives for the past 18 months or more. While the benefits of connecting to meet with friends or family, carry out business, or expand our horizons are clear, there is a dark side to spending much of our time sitting in front of our screens.

Yes, Zoom Fatigue is a real thing! Feeling drained and tired or suffering from headaches, eyestrain, and irritation is a result of spending so much time online. Whether we use Zoom for work or pleasure, we all suffer from Zoom Fatigue to some extent.

Beyond the obvious effects of being sedentary and looking at a screen for long periods of time, why are virtual meetings so exhausting? It is largely because of the increased cognitive demands that the whole process places on us.

  • While Zoom meetings are face-to-face, it is different than the face-to-face we are used to. It takes extra work to read body language and facial expressions when there are a number of ‘people squares’ in front of us. It is difficult to restrict your gaze to just the speaker.
  • In reality, if we are looking at the screen, we are not making eye contact – although there is the illusion that we are. Only if you are looking at the camera are you actually connecting visually, and that action feels unnatural to most of us.
  • Even under the best of circumstances, there is a slight – almost imperceptible – delay in verbal responses. This means that our brains are always playing ‘catch-up’ to process what we are hearing.
  • We may unknowingly feel it necessary to emote more to stand out on the screen – smile more or gesticulate more broadly, for example.
  • Seeing yourself on screen consistently can be mentally exhausting as you assess and judge your appearance and behaviour.
  • And then there are the worries – real or perceived – that we might delay the session with low bandwidth, connectivity issues, outside noise or loving pets.

Zoom – along with other video conferencing platforms – will be with us to some degree for a while yet. So, what can we do to help with Zoom Fatigue?

  • Turn off your video whenever it is appropriate. This allows you to listen better, focus more and be less concerned about others on the screen.
  • We have Zoom, but do we really need to use it for each meeting? Consider that a phone call may meet the objective just as well.
  • People often assume that being at home means that you are always free and available. Do not feel obligated to say yes to all meeting requests. Create boundaries by blocking off days/times when you will be available for Zoom calls – leaving time for other activities or just ‘me’ time.
  • When you must meet via Zoom, leave time between meetings – and/or take a break midway – so that you can get up and move around. Start and finish scheduled sessions promptly.

Zoom and other virtual platforms have a lot to offer us, and so Zoom Fatigue may be a necessary evil for the foreseeable future. Armed with awareness and some tools to help us we can continue to get the best from Zoom and create a balance that is best for our mental and physical wellness.

                                                                                                                                          Cathy Spark

Disclaimer: a cautionary preface

Our Tech Team has carefully considered the possibility of hybrid sessions such as those described in the following article. The team's report to the board makes it quite clear that we are not in a position to offer a hybrid solution in our workshops at Tartu in the foreseeable future. The technical difficulties are profound. The rooms and our shared use of Tartu facilities cannot accommodate this technology.

The training of our facilitators to run a hybrid system would be daunting in the absence of dedicated technical staff.

What's Next For Zoom Workshops?

“It will feel strange for a while and then it will not. It will be normal."

First the “news.” After working our way diligently through two complete terms of workshops on Zoom, this summer was an opportunity to take a needed break to recover from Zoom fatigue (yes, it is a real thing!) and to reflect on how we collectively did with the technology and what the future may hold. During the year Caroline Gray and I authored a report on the hybrid workshop concept as a white paper and released a report of an all ALLTO member survey completed in a June 2021 opinion poll. You can follow these links to read or download them.

 Montreal – McGill Community for Life-Long Learning

MCLL announced that its 2021 fall term will be remote on Zoom; Its winter term will be hybrid. Equipment will be installed in their classrooms this fall and moderators (facilitators) will be given a choice of how they wish to operate their winter sessions either in-person, pure Zoom, or hybrid.

 From “Zoom land”

The pandemic was a catalyst that accelerated our digital transformation in many aspects of our life. This first generation Zoom technology was rushed into service worldwide at low cost and we saw it rapidly evolve with a succession of software updates during the year, including the interesting Immersive View.

Zoom has recently announced integration of some 50 popular 3rd party Apps clearly aimed at remote workers and offers an integrated platform for services. Zoom’s idea for office workers is that it is a platform that has everything for you, and you do not have to leave. If you want to write a note or draw something on your computer, these apps open up a screen right beside the Zoom window. In addition, there are services for learning management systems (LMS) and telehealth platforms. For us in the “workshop world,” testing is the name of the game for now.

Academy for Lifelong Learning Toronto

There has been discussion among some of us at the Academy about hybrid workshops but what this really entails is not too familiar to most of us. In general, the term “hybrid” implies something that is well integrated, such as a hybrid car, blended like gasoline, or even biologically like a hybrid plant. You may find the term frequently used in media today referring to the return to office work, which means one or two days at the office/week; the other days are remote at home. If we think that an in-person workshop with some participants on Zoom is “hybrid,” it is better to consider this “mixed-mode.” I would consider this quite experimental for the near future.

Video conferencing use is nothing new for the Academy dating back to some exploratory efforts in 2018. At the time there was no pressing need other than to occasionally bring “in” to the workshop an expert guest speaker who could not otherwise travel at that time. Fast forward to the Covid -19 Pandemic and we were very fortunate to be able to pick up the easy-to-use Zoom technology to rescue our workshops. So, what are we going to do when we all return to in-person workshops? The most frequently raised idea is the notion that Zoom could be used to remotely hold workshops in inclement weather or to allow  some participants with mobility issues to attend only by Zoom all the time. This was the most immediate reason in Montreal at MCLL for their decision to offer hybrid study groups (a.k.a. workshops in our terminology) starting in January 2022.  Our winter weather in Toronto is not as severe but we do have snow days. The secondary reason for MCLL is for them to be able to expand their study group participation beyond the Metro boundary.

To discuss this concept further It might be useful to describe what a hypothetical classroom could be like.

The audio/video technology that may be used in a mixed-mode workshop has come along way in the past 10 years. For participants at home on Zoom there is nothing they don’t already have and know how to use. There is one little wrinkle that can make things better, which I will describe a later.

The in-class installations participants are not like students in a lecture all with laptops so they could not be signed in on Zoom. The room would need an automatic 360-degree camera system and an array microphone system preferably integrated and connected to laptop computer with a Zoom link. The objective is to bring a more immediate view to the remote participant. If you have recently watched a live stream religious service, the good ones have a camera operator, likely remote. Wide angle overview is something we do not want to have, and certainly facilitators do not want to become camera operators.

Here are some examples of commercial systems:

Owl Labs

This Owl has a military ancestor. DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Project Agency -US DOD) once had project that developed a surveillance drone like an owl that would fly up unobtrusively and perch indefinitely on a tree branch or building ledge. It was packed with smart video telescopic cameras and disguised as an owl. Also, today thanks to all the anti-terrorism military funding, we now have automatic follow- cameras, face tracking, and facial recognition which we see even in inexpensive cell phones.


For audio pick up in the class either linear array microphones or centralized 360-degree 8 microphone systems are being used. What the microphone /camera does is, it finds the speaker direction and focuses on a “head” that it finds. In our case one problem that needs more work is that we like to have amplified sound for our in-person participants. But this tends to spoof the microphone arrays.

From the viewpoint of a participant in the classroom what can they see of their remote colleagues? One solution is to use several large screen TV s, maybe 42+inches, positioned within easy viewing along the side of a conference table. This is something that I have tried. The ZOOM view can be selected to show on a smart TV as a second monitor. The “fun” part is to get the personal images about the same size as a “live” person nearby and to make sure that your remote participants are framed by their cameras so that more than their heads are in their frames.

Technology considerations are fine. However, much more important is how the constructed environment affects behaviour. There are many human factors to consider. We are social animals with rich multi sensory-rich interpersonal communications. As an example, just think about how you can sense emotional state by subliminally processing very rapidly changing facial expressions. (at least some of us can do this) Or how is it that we can synchronize with each other? sing? cadence match in conversation? We see each other in three dimensions; we are aware of body language. How much does

Zoom capture? One straight-on low resolution, low frame rate head shot, and it then displays us all together trapped in a 2-dimension grid matrix as a little square all looking ahead. Quite strange.

(Note: if this field interests you, you are welcome to attend a session in my 2nd term “The Brain: Refreshed Workshop” February 7, 2022 when more of this will be discussed.)

Yes, we know this. There is more. It is important to not inadvertently create unequal groups if that can be avoided. We do not want to treat either in-person or remote participants as second-class citizens in the group. How does one become part of a workshop group if they only participate remotely? As business has discovered, remote workers do have to meet and socialize “live” occasionally.

The Academy has some 25 years of experience with our peer learning (presentation >>>> discussion) model. With experience we have developed habits and “rituals” and documented these in guidance and procedures. Compare this experience to, on the average, 72 hours of Zoom workshop exposure during the past year. And we will have at least 36 more hours from one more Zoom term this coming year. Some Zoom workshop best practice has been developing but it is far from optimized.

As we have said in our report, although Zoom does bring useful new features and some things can be better with Zoom, we must be sure we are not detracting from the in-person workshop experience in any mixed-mode operation. This will be a very interesting challenge for future facilitators

                                                                                                            Ron Miller

Eveleen’s thoughts....

How do we… Can we ever… get ourselves out of the centre of our universe?

“And did you get what

you wanted from this life, even so?

I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on this earth.”

 - Raymond Carver, “Late Fragment,” from A New Path to the Waterfall

I say these words in my head like a mantra.

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