After 18 months of extensive work, popular education option ready to launch online enrolment system on Sept. 7
© GUARDIAN PHOTO BY SALLY COLE
Past president Julie Dowling is thrilled about realizing her dream of developing an online registration system for the Seniors College of P.E.I. After 18 months of work with fellow committee members, the system will be launched on registration day, Sept. 7, through the college’s website.
After being involved with the Seniors College of P.E.I. for more than a decade, Julie Dowling knew all about watching people’s dreams of education come true.
Year after year, Islanders 50 years and older were able to sign up for a wide range of courses that allowed them to broaden their knowledge, meet new people and share points of view.
However, Dowling, a long-time executive member, had her own dream — one that would make it even easier for seniors to access this unique P.E.I. program.
After watching participants wait in long lines to register over the last 13 years, she simply wanted to make it easier to enrol.
“Trying to process 400 students within a few hours is challenging because it’s detailed and slow. Then, if I were working, I’d come home absolutely exhausted and think, ‘There must be a better way of doing this,” says Dowling who is the college’s past president.
But even simple dreams don’t always come true right away. Seven years ago, Dowling started encouraging college board members to develop an online registration system that would allow members to register in the comfort of their own homes.
“In 2006, we had 314 members in Charlottetown and Summerside. And people were starting to say, ‘Can’t you please put this online? This is such a drag.’ But, at that time, only 55 per cent of members had email,” she says.
But with more and more people going online over the last few years, that demand grew. So Dowling tried again, this time forming a committee.
And, after 18 months of extensive work by fellow members Mary Lou Turner, Peter Griesbauer and Ron Moore, as well as the project manager, Alet Pieterse of Web Site Advantage, a computer enrolment system was developed.
“It was a real team effort. We’re hoping that online registration will make things easier for people,” says Dowling, adding the launch date is Sept. 7 at 9 a.m.
On that date, the online registration site will be linked to www.seniorscollege.ca so all participants need to do is go there, find the link and sign up.
“Until that date, people are welcome to browse the website to explore the number of courses that are available this year,” she says.
No access to a computer?
“Not to worry. On the same day, traditional registration sessions will be held in all three centres, starting at 9 a.m.,” says Dowling, adding these will take place at UPEI’s Atlantic Veterinary College, Charlottetown, Credit Union Place, Room 3, second floor, Summerside, and the Cavendish Wellness Centre, Montague.
For those with a computer but who are still uncomfortable with using the new technology, having the option of registering in person will help to ease seniors in.
“We’ll have a number of computers and volunteers available to help them,” says Dave McCabe, president of the P.E.I. Seniors College, who is proud of the technological milestone reached by the team.
“I’m very pleased. The work of Julie and Mary Lou and their team has been fantastic. They’ve been committed to the project from the very beginning,” he says.
So far, feedback from students at the college has also been positive.
“Members are pleased. I’ve run into so many who have said, ‘now we won’t have to line up and wait. They’re so excited,” says Georgina Clow, vice-president.
But, perhaps, the happiest is Dowling.
“It’s like watching your children graduate. You feel kind of proud,” says Dowling, who is realizing her dream before stepping down from the college’s board in October.
But she’s not going very far.
“I’ll be teaching a literature course on short stories at the college in the spring.”
AT A GLANCE
If you are going to the Seniors College of P.E.I.
Anyone 50 years or over is eligible to join.
For a registration fee of $152, college members are entitled to sign up for an unlimited number of courses over the fall, winter and spring terms.
This year over 30 per cent of courses are new: photo editing; basic engine repair; architecture; birds and plants of P.E.I.; know your kidneys; P.E.I. sport history; spirituality; growing into our senior years; yoga-stretch for seniors; plant-based nutrition; bridge, orienteering; map and compass reading. As with all courses, these are offered on a first-come, first-served basis and are usually filled on registration day.
To check out these and other courses, go to www.seniorscollege.ca.and hit the Register Here button.