Alabama Seniors Offered Free Cybersecurity Courses

Seniors in Alabama are being given the chance to learn about cybersecurity free of charge thanks to the University of Alabama.

Cybersecurity is just one of a batch of free online adult education courses being offered by the university's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI).

Usually, OLLI courses are delivered in a traditional classroom setting; however, all in-person programming has been suspended in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. To keep adult education services up and running, courses are now being taught via the video-conferencing app Zoom.

OLLI director Jennifer Anderson said: “OLLI is privileged to be in a position to provide educational and social opportunities online for its members and the community, some of whom are the most vulnerable to coronavirus and may be among the last of our citizens to emerge from their homes, even as social distancing guidelines are lifted in our community."

Anderson said adults aged over 50 were just as much in need of social and intellectual stimulation as any other group in society, especially while lockdown measures remain in place. 

“Our members, like everyone else, can only spend so much time alone, cleaning their homes and reading,” said Anderson. “They need their social network, and interactive online classes provide that along with intellectual aspects.”

OLLI's wide-ranging courses cover everything from shadow wars of tariffs and sanctions with Iran to arthritis exercises and awareness and the love stories that made history.

Courses are developed by OLLI’s curriculum committee and based on newsworthy topics, events that changed history, or useful skills to have in the modern world. Tutors are chosen by the committee from a pool of experts, educators, and professionals.

Anderson said that instead of simply logging on and viewing pre-recorded video content, mature students who take advantage of free OLLI courses are encouraged to actively engage with the learning process. 

“We hope viewers will experience the education, entertainment and social benefits,” Anderson said. 

“OLLI students will not just ‘view’ their classes. They will participate because the classes are synchronous. Participants can speak in class and the instructors can have discussions in addition to the lectures provided.”

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