We Asked You What You Thought.
You Answered; We Listened:
Results of TALYR's 2022 Future Planning Survey
The biggest single problem we all face right now is uncertainty as to the future course of the COVID-19 pandemic. None of us could likely have predicted the twists and turns we have already taken. That makes planning for the future more difficult, since there is considerable lead time needed to recruit Speakers and mount a future lecture series. Therefore, the best we can do in planning for the Fall of 2022 is to take the opinions of Members into account BASED ON WHAT WE KNOW TODAY, and forge ahead while keeping the health and safety concerns of our members as our highest priority.
Accordingly, we recently sent all our members a Planning Survey questionnaire to help us ascertain your preferences as we move forward with our programs in a very uncertain future. We were very gratified that over 160 of you responded!
This is a great testament to our community, and we thank you for your responses and candour but especially for your loyalty and your continued enthusiasm and support.
As part of our accountability back to you, we wanted to provide an overview of some of the feedback we got, and where appropriate, what actions we are taking.
Health and Safety Concerns
Based on what we know TODAY, respondents were VERY CLEAR that they wanted to continue with ONLINE Webinars (via Zoom) rather than return to in-person meetings in the Fall. In fact, when asked directly if you would attend in-person lectures in the Fall, fully HALF of respondents said they would NOT ATTEND. Conversely, when asked if you would attend online webinars with Zoom, only 7% responded that you would not attend.
Obviously, there are some of our Members who feel that the in-person benefits are more important and/or they do not favour the value or format of online webinars, but the overwhelming majority of you told us clearly that you are far more comfortable staying online for now.
And so, at our TALYR Board meeting on June 1, 2022, the Board made the decision to keep the Fall 2022 Series online only via Zoom. It is not a decision we had hoped to make, but (sadly) the decision was an easy one given the facts as we know them today, and the very clear directive from our Members.
Given that our annual Winter Series was always going to be via Zoom (due to weather concerns in January and February etc) this means that the decision for returning to in-person lectures will not come into play until we have to plan for the Spring of 2023. We will obviously cross that bridge when we get there, and you can be certain that if there is any doubt at all, we will be coming back to you for your input and opinions before any decisions are made!
In-Person vs Zoom Beyond 2022
When we asked for your preferences of in-person vs online/Zoom even in a Post-COVID future, i.e., when we could safely meet in-person again without restriction, opinions were mixed.
Twice as many of you said you actually preferred to stay on Zoom rather than return to in-person, even when it was safe to return to a physical venue (32% Zoom vs 17% in-person). Another popular option was some sort of ‘mix’ of Zoom webinars and in-person lectures.
It seems clear then that while Zoom became the option of necessity when the pandemic started, a significant number now feel comfortable enough with Zoom that the convenience of online webinars is actually preferred, even when we could go back to in-person meetings.
As expected, a number of you indicated that the social interaction provided by an in-person event was of paramount importance. We were surprised, however, that this factor did not rank as highly as we surmised it might.
In fact, the priorities you ranked as most important were “recruiting expert speakers from outside our geographical area” [highest ranked priority] and “convenience of enjoying the lecture in the comfort of your own home and without having to travel” [2nd highest ranked priority]. The priority of “opportunity for attendees to socialize in person with one another ” was only ranked as the 5th highest priority, out of 6.
We also asked if we should explore the (more costly) option of a true “hybrid” format: an in-person lecture for those who wanted to attend in-person plus a concurrent livestream for those who wanted to view in real time from home. This is not something TALYR could expertly mount on its own but would have to be contracted out to a professional AV company. More than half of you said you had no real interest in us exploring this avenue, especially given that it would likely raise costs considerably.
Recording of Lectures
Another major theme that emerged in your comments (again) was the issue of recording of lectures. People have had to miss both in-person or online lectures in the past due to conflicting commitments, ill-health or other, but in the era of Zoom/Internet webinars, the question has intensified as to whether we could record our Zoom sessions for later playback.
Up until now TALYR had a strict policy NOT to record any lectures, both to protect the Speaker’s Intellectual Property, but also to protect TALYR should there be any inadvertent infringement of Canadian Copyright laws. This past year however, we worked with other Later Life Learning organizations in Ontario to get legal advice to see how we might record Zoom lectures for future playback and under what restrictions etc.
Based on that legal advice, at its Board Meeting on June 1, 2022, the TALYR Board approved that, on a trial basis, TALYR WILL record Zoom webinars, so that anyone who has to miss the Monday morning webinar will be able to watch it at their convenience for a limited period of time after the original webinar date. Any recordings will of course be subject to the full agreement and approval of each Speaker, and so it may happen that we may not be able to apply this to all lectures.
We are working out the rest of the details as to how we will make recordings available, with appropriate restrictions, so stay tuned for that.
Our members fully recognized that, as a not-for-profit, we must of course be able to cover our costs. Although the costs of an online program are not significantly different than the costs of an in-person program, you told us that it is important that we be transparent as to what those costs are, whether for Zoom or in-person. We agree completely, and in fact our annual financial statement has always been presented at the TALYR Annual General Meeting (usually in October) and also posted in full on the TALYR website.
In any case, Members overwhelmingly indicated they thought the Zoom webinars had value and would be willing to continue to pay for them in the future. It is assumed that our intended recording of Zoom webinars for future playback (see above) will further enhance that value proposition in the future.
Regarding lecture/webinar topics, many subject areas got broad support but the most favoured were Global Issues; Health, Medicine & Well-Being; and Social Issues. (63%, 61% and 48% of all respondents, respectively).
The 3 least favoured topic areas were Sports, Athletes & Recreation; Financial Health; and Law and Legal Issues (3%, 11% and 13% of all respondents, respectively).
Although there were a few changes in rank order of other topics since the last time we polled you over a year ago, the overall ranking of your most (and least) favoured topics has not changed.
Membership and Demographics
Our respondents were 80% female and 20% male. Most questions were answered similarly by both genders.
Of note, over 20% of respondents live in areas farther away than we have considered as our traditional “catchment” areas in York Region, many of those from as far away as Ottawa or Thunder Bay. Obviously, attending in-person for these members is out of the question and no doubt contributes to the growing popularity of Zoom Webinars where geography is largely irrelevant.