McGill Zooms On with Virtual Lectures and Study Groups to Fuel the Fun of Lifelong Learning

Photo by @visuals, Unsplash

When Covid-19 hit, MCLL (the McGill Community for Lifelong Learning) was faced with a challenge: transfer its wide range of study groups and lectures to online Zoom sessions when its members aren’t necessarily tech savvy. The adaptability of the community with members aged from 23 to 99 with a median age range of 71-75 dedicated to learning for the joy of it, and their commitment to peer learning may have helped. The zoom sessions during the summer and fall sessions have helped seniors learn, connect, share, and make new friends, all at a time when the effects of isolation were having a harmful impact on many.

The Zoom sessions also allow members from around the world to participate. For example, Nadia Khawandanah, a former Montrealer and current MCLL participant living in Mecca, gave a lecture entitled “A Female Version of Uniqueness”.  It was a tale of female success from beyond the Arabian Desert. The lecture discussed Dr. Rafia Gubash, a Dubai psychiatrist and epidemiologist, and her achievements which have won international recognition.  The lecture emphasized Dr. Gubash’s unique museum “House of Women”, which acts as a cultural centre documenting the role of women in the United Arab Emirates. It was a fantastic example of the power of Zoom since the lecture was given by Nadia in Mecca, with Susan Van Gelder as the Zoom host here in Montreal. Dr. Gubash listened on the phone in Dubai and answered questions from MCLL attendees.

MCLL members have also had great things to say about the power of Zoom. “Zoom adds another level for me. In person-to-person study groups you tend to see only the moderators and those people beside you, whereas with Zoom, you get a sense of all the other participants so it takes on a new dimension,” said one participant. Another commented that “It’s fun for us Montrealers (MCLLers) to meet online with a group of lifelong learners from Calgary to discuss some classic Canadian Literature—from prairie writers and Quebec writers. What a great idea!”

Peer learning and active participation are two cornerstones of MCLL’s curriculum, differentiating its programs from traditional university classes. The level of involvement can range from participating in a lively discussion to advanced preparation/research, participation in group discussions and presentations to the class. No grades or exams. With your home computer and internet connection, you can participate too. Technicians and volunteers ensure members have the support they need to join and enjoy.

Another major benefit of MCLL membership is access to the amazing McGill library system, which includes online and in-person access to books, videos, music, periodicals and newspapers like the Montreal Gazette and New York Times and other major world publications. Take a look at the offerings at the web site There’s even a dedicated librarian for MCLL members!

MCLL’s winter session begins January 11 with registration starting on December 2. For more information and to see the offerings, visit or call 514-398-8234 with any questions.

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