RVC CLR Recognized For Technology Innovation

Rock Valley College’s Center for Learning in Retirement (CLR) was recently awarded the Illinois Council for Continuing Education and Training (ICCET) 2021 Innovation Award.

The award is a result of the collaborative efforts between RVC, McHenry County College, Harper College, and College of DuPage. “Resulting from the pandemic and seeing how it was negatively impacting older adult programs, [the colleges] reached out to each other, brainstormed, shared resources, and created a profitable and sustainable model supporting older adults across four community college districts,” said ICCET President Jessie McClusky in her award letter to the colleges.

In the fall of 2020, program directors from the four community colleges came together to collaborate on programming for older adult programs. The COVID-related cancellations and challenges of transitioning to online learning had put stress on programs and reduced enrollment numbers. The colleges needed to be innovative to shift programmatic offerings in order to attract participants.

“We came together to combine our resources allowing students from all four colleges to participate in a set number of shared courses allowing students to participate from anywhere via Zoom,” explained Tammy Lewis RVC Center for Learning in Retirement Program Director. “The collaboration has been a great success.”

The collaboration helped to fill the enrollment and program gaps each college was facing. The collaboration launched in the spring of 2021, breaking down location-specific boundaries community colleges have traditionally operated within.

The technology innovation of CLR was not limited to collaboration. CLR volunteer instructor and Zoom trainer Bob Bertolasi was presented with the City of Rockford Challenge Coin Award. Rockford Mayor, Tom McNamara, and the Rockford City Council present this award to recipients for going above and beyond to move the city forward.

According to Lewis, “Bob has been committed to getting hundreds of seniors in northern Illinois connected and comfortable with taking online classes via platforms like Zoom.”

Bertolasi has conducted dozens of training sessions, been willing to help people one-on-one if needed, and been present for most CLR Zoom classes to offer his expert advice and assistance. In addition to this support, he teaches several CLR courses each semester.

To learn more about the innovative programming that is a part of RVC’s CLR program, visit www.rockvalleycollege.edu/CLR or call (815) 921-3931.