During the early weeks of quarantine as the OATS team was rolling out a new slate of Senior Planet virtual classes, our Senior Planet Montgomery program began offering hour-long virtual sessions called “All Things Zoom.” The program was designed to help Montgomery members feel more comfortable using Zoom videoconferencing software, which they’d need to use to participate in other Senior Planet classes. The class quickly became one of our most popular, nationwide.
When AARP connected with OATS to collaborate on a special series of virtual programs for older adults, a joint version of “All Things Zoom” emerged as a natural choice. So did a brand-new program on online Social Security accounts, as members of both organizations wanted a deeper understanding of how to manage their benefits during the pandemic.
“During the Covid pandemic and the resulting period of social distancing, it’s more important than ever that older adults stay connected to others and avoid chronic loneliness and social isolation,” said Heather Nawrocki, VP of Fun and Fulfillment at AARP. “Technological tools such as Zoom video conferencing can be a great way for people to stay connected to friends and family, plus participate in virtual gatherings or take classes.”
On June 3rd and June 9th, Senior Planet co-hosted live trainings with AARP that focused on Zoom basics like how to join a meeting, adjust your video and microphone, raise your hand during a webinar, and other key functions to successfully participate in Zoom meetings. Only two tainings were originally scheduled, but huge demand for the class generated a 12,000-person waitlist, so we added an additional session on June 17th. Across the programs, near 17,000 older adults attended.
On June 23rd and 30th, Senior Planet and AARP co-hosted a second set of programs with more than 2,000 attendees, “Take Control of Your Social Security Benefits.” Participants learned how to create an online My Social Security account, explored safety features of a My SSA account, and discussed how to determine their expected benefits and ensure their Social Security earnings were correct. An AARP specialist supported the call, answering participant questions.
Across the two topics, 92% of participants reported they are likely or very likely to attend another virtual program hosted by AARP and Senior Planet (NPS 92).
OATS worked also with AARP to produce two articles and quick-tips videos on using Zoom to stay connected during COVID-19 and how to set up a My Social Security account online, as well as two full-length videos of the trainings (here and here).
“This was a really great way to bring together OATS expertise in virtual programming and our highly engaged membership with AARP’s key knowledge and distribution channels,” said Alex Glazebrook, director of operations at OATS. “And it confirmed that virtual programs can be successful even with massive groups of learners.”