New Skills to Stay Connected

Screen shot of UMAC fellows using Zoom 4.2020

Living with an uncertain future is daunting. In the midst of a global pandemic, each of us is forced to adapt and learn new skills to maintain a sense of connection and stability within our communities. For most of us, this transition requires adaptations to new technologies, such as Zoom, a video conferencing platform. The use of Zoom is booming for its ability to keep people connected during self-quarantining and stay-at-home orders.

Like the rest of campus, the University of Minnesota Advanced Careers (UMAC) fellows pivoted to virtual meetings in March, 2020. For many, this was their first experience using a video conferencing platform. 

Sean Maurer, UMAC tech expert and University of Minnesota undergraduate student (Science & Technology, ‘23), helped UMAC fellows make the transition. To get started, Sean met with each fellow individually, introducing them to Zoom and teaching them helpful features (e.g. how to set up a meeting, how to join a meeting, how to share their screens). Sean felt like this lesson was important to show the fellows how to harness the platform to keep up engagement and networking. Through these individual meetings, Sean helped them learn the basics and become comfortable with the technology. ”We have no idea how long it will last. This technology will become an essential skill used in many aspects of life,” Sean notes.

The process took some patience, but the results were worth it. The first time the fellows all joined a call together, they chuckled and compared themselves to the Brady Bunch. After getting the Zoom basics down, many of the fellows reached out for extra lessons. Sean mentioned, “They began asking how to host Zoom parties for personal use with their friends and families.” 

Sean predicts Zoom will continue to be utilized in the future, and it will be an important tool for people of all ages to stay connected. “All of our college classes are online through Zoom, but it is not just a necessity for our generation. It’s for everyone; all generations are dependent on this new technology. Being able to pass on knowledge amongst all generations will allow us to come together at a time when it is most needed.” 

Sean hopes this experience with Zoom will encourage everyone to keep up communication and connectivity within their communities. His brief lessons unleashed confidence amongst the fellows to continue to use these new skills to stay connected, with each other and with people in their lives and communities.