by Kathlene Sutton

With Jane Yoder’s recent death, The Academy has lost one of its gentlest souls, one of its most avid learners, and one of its most enthusiastic champions of lifelong learning.

In 2003, after Jane retired from teaching, she plunged into The Academy’s programs with a passion. In her very first term, she enrolled in six Academy courses. Ranging from beginner’s Bridge to Mozart’s The Magic Flute, The Economics of Globalization, The Trial of Socrates, Architecture as Art and Maslow: On Effective Relationships, her classes echoed the unusual breadth and depth of her interests.

Enthralled with those first courses, Jane initiated what was to become The Academy’s first series, Cities of Destiny, based on the book of the same name by renowned historian Arnold Toynbee. Reflecting her twin fascinations with “armchair travel” and the world’s cultural epicenters, the enormously popular series focused on how historic cities have shaped our major civilizations.

For the last decade, Jane continued to participate in four, five or six classes almost every term, recruiting others to join her along the way, including her daughter Connie Renner, an award-winning artist. After Jane and Connie took Sally Kneser’s two-term course on the Impressionists, Connie was inspired to offer Studio Art Basics at The Academy. Jane often had that effect on people–her passions subtly but significantly influencing those around her and moving them to enrich others’ lives as she did.

In at least one way, she has enriched everyone who has attended The Academy: early on, Jane surprised The Academy by becoming its first major donor, when she unexpectedly mailed in a substantial gift. She went on to make her gifts an annual tradition.

Continuing that tradition and honoring her extraordinary devotion to lifelong learning, her family has asked that memorial donations be sent in her name to:  The Academy, c/o Karen Long, Executive Director, 3667 S. Newport Way, Denver, CO 80237. Please email or call (303) 770-0786 with questions.


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Why Is Bernard Osher Important? What’s OLLI?

2-Bernard-Barbro-OsherBernard and Barbro Osher run the Bernard Osher Foundation which has funded over 100 Lifelong Learning Institutes across America from Maine to Hawaii and Alaska. Each provides a distinctive array of non-credit courses and activities specifically developed for seasoned adults aged 50 or older who are interested in learning for the joy of learning. (The Academy welcomes all adults and age does not matter)

Although The Academy does not receive Osher funding, we applaud their efforts to encourage people to get together and learn from each other.  Here are their guidelines for organizations that want to become an OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute):

  • The program must offer a diverse and intellectually-stimulating array of non-credit educational offerings, (courses, lectures, and other special events) in a wide variety of academic disciplines; (YES-We have that)
  • Program offerings must be specifically developed for seasoned adults; (YES-We have that)
  • The host institution must demonstrate its strong support of the program and materially contribute to its ongoing development and success. (Of particular concern to the Foundation is the provision of office and classroom space for program operation.); (NO-We don’t have a host institution… and we also do not have the burden of a parent organization)
  • The program must offer opportunities for volunteer leadership, have a sound organizational structure, and have in place a mechanism to evaluate participant satisfaction with educational offerings; (YES-We have that)
  • Program offerings must occur in real-time. (YES-We have that)

THREE CHEERS to Bernard and Barbro Osher for their outstanding support of Lifelong Learning.  To date they have contributed over $700 million to the Osher Foundation


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Myth-Busting Longevity Project is a MUST-READ

2-LongevityProjectYou’ve heard all the axioms about how to live longer: don’t worry, get and stay married, exercise, eat your veggies, embrace religious faith. But an 80-year (!) study of 1500 (!) people busts these notions as myths. You’ll be fascinated and shocked by the contrarian conclusions in Howard Friedman and Leslie Martin’s book The Longevity Project, delighted by their reader-friendly prose and intrigued by their short self-quizzes. Check it out at

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Online Courses: What’s Out There?

E-learning (online course) Opportunities for Academy Members
By Jackie Dobrovolny, Ph.D. UCD elearning faculty and member of the Academy’s Elearning Committee

~~Jackie Dobrovolny’s career has encompassed teaching and co-teaching numerous online courses at the University of Colorado-Denver.  Those courses include graduate degree courses, as well as open-admission adult continuing education courses. The content of all these courses is how to design online (elearning) instruction. In each of these online courses, students design and develop an online course which is either self-paced or instructor led. The students in these courses are from all over the U.S., as well as from outside the U.S., e.g., Germany, Israel, and Puerto Rico.

1-Online-EducationCurrently, Jackie is investigating the possibility of developing elearning focused on environmental and/or humane education topics. With respect to members of the Academy using elearning, there are basically three types that might be fun and informative: (1) Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), (2) self-paced courses, and (3) webinars.

MOOCs are instructor lead and often the instructor is a leader in the field. MOOCs are free, have a start and stop date, based on either a quarter or semester calendar, and students don’t have to finish the course, i.e., they can focus only on those parts of the course they find relevant and/or interesting. Students who satisfactorily complete a MOOC, can usually receive a certificate of completion.

Examples of MOOCS – Supported by 33 different universities – Supported by Stanford University – Started by MIT and Harvard. Partners currently include University of Texas system, UC Berkeley, Georgetown, and Wellesley College.

MIT Open Courseware Consortium – Includes 250 universities, providing over 13,000 courses

See below for additional information about MOOCs and the providers listed above.

Self-paced elearning
Online, self-paced courses are another type of elearning that members of the Academy night enjoy. They are often free and students can take as much time as they want to learn parts or all of the content. Typically, self-paced, elearning courses take between 5 minutes and 5 hours for students to complete albeit some students may take several months, spending only a few minutes in the course at each sitting.

Examples of self-paced instruction: “libraries” of courses (All but two of these libraries offer free courses.)
iTunes U
Khan Academy (monthly and annual subscription options)
MetEd (through COMET in Boulder)
National Repository of Online Courses
Ted Talks
Virtual University ($10/course and up)
Terra Incognita

Examples of individual self-paced courses (All of these courses are free.)

African Voices
Ancient Astronomy
Becoming Human
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony
Freeskills (software coding)
Japanese Americans and the American Constitution
Mission US (history)
Polar Science
Theban Mapping Project (Egypt)

Another online learning opportunity for members of the Academy is the synchronous webinars offered by various professional
development organizations and software companies. These are typically 45 minutes to two hours. Everyone is online at the same time and there is a presenter/faculty presenting the content. Some webinars are free; for others there is a fee.

Use Webinar Base or PBS (Public Broadcasting System) to search for a webinar on a specific topic or field of interest.


MOOCs: Massive Open Online Courses
Instructor-led courses with hundreds or thousands of students in each course. Currently, few MOOCs offer college “credit” albeit many offer certificates of completion. The learning theory supporting many MOOCs is called Connectivism, which assumes that learning is neural, conceptual, and social. Stephen Downs, a Connectivist expert, said, “to teach is to model and demonstrate, to learn is to practice and reflect.” For more on Connectivism see the following:
* “What is Connectivism?” This is a 15 minute presentation by George Siemens, a Connectivist expert.
* Connectivism: Wikipedia article.

Information about current providers of MOOCs
* 33 universities support Coursera
* Two venture capital firms fund the organization.
* 213 free courses primarily in technical sciences, i.e., science, computer science, math, and engineering
* The following is a partial listing of courses outside of the technical sciences.
o Humanities – 35 courses including:
o Language of Hollywood – Storytelling, sound and color – 5 weeks
o Science, technology and society in China – 3 weeks.
o Sports and society – 8 weeks
o Archeology’s dirty little secrets – 8 weeks
o Writing in the sciences – 8 weeks
o Listening to world music – 7 weeks
o Economics – 23 courses including:
o Fundamentals of personal financial planning – 7 weeks
o Microeconomic principles – 8 weeks
o Macroeconomic principles – 6 weeks
o Generating the wealth of nations – 6 weeks
o Climate change – 9 weeks
o Computer Science – 22 courses
* Recent major problem:
* Started February 2012
* Set up by Stanford University
* Has offered 15 free courses as of March, 2013
* All courses in technical disciplines
* Partnering with San Jose State to offer $150/course under graduate courses.
* Charles River Associates appears to be their sponsor.
* MIT and Harvard started
* Partners include:
o University of Texas System
o UC Berkeley
o Georgetown
o Wellesley College
* Have offered nine free courses in chemistry, computer science, and electronics so far.
* First liberal arts courses to be offered in the Fall 2013 by Wellesley.

MIT Open Courseware Consortium
* Started in 2001
* The OCW Consortium includes 250 universities providing over 13,000 courses
* MIT offers free 2150 courses
* So far they estimate 100 million people have used their services.
* They provide courses in 11 major topic areas including:
o Business
o Energy
o Engineering
o Fine arts (8 courses)
o Health & Medicine
o Humanities (500 + courses)
o Mathematics
o Science
o Social Science
o Society
o Teaching and Education
* Demographics of students
o 43% are life-long learners
o 42% are students
o 9% are educators
o 44% North America
o 17% Europe and Russia
o 20% China and SE Asia
o 9% India and nearby nations

Sofia: Offer the following community college courses
* Creative typography
* Physical geography
* Enterprise network security
* Elementary statistics
* Intro to Java programing
* Intro to Macromedia Flash
* Muscianship
* Webpage authoring

General information about MOOCs
* Top 10 sites for MOOCs and good video (at the end) about what is a MOOC:
* Find a MOOC:
* How to succeed in a MOOC: Video
* What is a MOOC? Some great background info and instructional design considerations.

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Veterans’ Advocate Wins Inaugural Award


Dick Young, who is teaching the Five Best and Five Worst Presidents…You Choose in Spring 2015, musician Bruce Springsteen and several others, went to Washington, D.C., to receive the inaugural Lincoln Award and a attend a celebratory concert.

Congratulations Dick!

Below is a snippet of the press release, or you can read the whole thing by clicking here:  Announcment of Standard Bearer Award

“The Lincoln Awards: A Concert for Veterans & the Military Family will be the first event of its kind to recognize outstanding achievement and excellence in providing opportunities and support to our nation’s veterans and military families. It will be presented in Washington D.C. by The Friars Foundation, the charitable arm of the legendary Friars Club. The event will take place over the course of two days, with honors awarded in ten categories at a special ceremony on January 6, 2015 and an All-Star concert, taking place on January 7, 2015, at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts Concert Hall. The event will be packaged for national prime-time broadcast to coincide with the March 4, 2015, 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s landmark Second Inaugural Address, where he stated America’s commitment ‘to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan.’

One of the ten awards is the Standard Bearer Award. The recipient of this award is listed below.
Dick Young
Standard Bearer
Recognizing outstanding lifetime achievement and excellence by a veteran in exemplifying selfless service

One unrelenting, effective champion whom our military veterans can count on is Rear Admiral (Retired) Dick Young. A staunch, pragmatic advocate for veterans returning home, Dick heads the Colorado Committee of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR). His herculean and tireless efforts have made substantial improvements and impacts in his community, the state of Colorado, and our nation’s military.”

Here’s even more about Dick from a previous article written by Kathlene Sutton:

Retired Rear Admiral Dick Young, now 84 and going strong, has been an active volunteer throughout his entire adult life. He served 35 years in the U.S. Navy, both Active and Reserve and was awarded the Legion of Merit Award three times, one of the highest peacetime awards a Navy Reservist can receive. In further recognition of his superior service, Admiral Young received the National Navy League’s John Paul Jones Inspirational Leadership Award in 1988, the only Naval Reservist to ever receive the National Navy League’s highest award.

Since becoming the Colorado State ESGR Chair in 2009, Admiral Young has devoted over 8700 hours in organizing, leading, and running Colorado’s ESGR. He built the organization from a small handful of Volunteers to a force of over 220, the largest ESGR State Committee in the country. This powerhouse team raised the bar from 1300 Volunteer hours in 2008 to 16,669 in 2014, all helping our military members.

One unrelenting, effective champion whom our military veterans can count on is Rear Admiral (Retired) Dick Young, a popular, longtime Academy course leader. A staunch, pragmatic advocate for veterans returning home, Dick heads the Colorado chapter of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), which he spearheaded in 2009.

ESGR, Dick explains, “is a Department of Defense agency, volunteer led and volunteer run.” About 200 Colorado volunteers–including several Academy members–invest approximately 1400 hours a month in fulfilling ESGR’s vital mission: connecting employers with job-hunting veterans, mentoring veterans seeking employment in the civilian world, and actively mediating veteran/employer disputes (over veterans’ re-employment in jobs left behind after being deployed on military assignments).

Dick credits ESGR’s success to both compassionate, cooperating employers and “passionate volunteers who are more knowledgeable and dedicated than most volunteers in voluntary organizations.” For more information on ESGR, visit

For many years, participants in Dick’s Academy classes have come to know and embrace all these same admirable qualities in Dick himself–compassion, passion, knowledge and dedication—plus his non-stop wit and sense of humor. Equipped with a law degree, as well as graduate work in history, he has led nine Academy courses, focused on topics such as the Electoral College, World War II, the politics of US geography (How the US Got its Shape: It Wasn’t by Dieting), and US presidential history.

We salute Dick Young for all he does for and means to veterans and The Academy!


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Rosetta Stone for a Long & Healthy Life?

Healthy Living Apple IllustrationWhether you want to live to a hundred or not, we now have scientific evidence that centenarians–who’ve lived for 100 years or longer— share healthy, active lifestyles.

You’ve heard the myth that “the older you get, the sicker you get”—right? Au contraire: the 18-year-long New England Centenarian Study suggests that “the older you get, the healthier you’ve been,” by making these 6 choices–

  • Staying connected to others of all ages and involved in your community
  • Exercising daily
  • Continuing to use your brain
  • Learning to handle stress
  • Coping through humor
  • Finding spiritual meaning, interest and joy in everyday life.

See more at:
–Adapted from Ways to Live a Long and Healthy Life, posted on January 15, 2013 by Dr. Eliza “Pippa” Shulman

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Brain HQ Revolutionizes Brain Games

1-brain-gearsThe jury is still out: do crossword puzzles improve your brain fitness? Maybe, or maybe not. If you are searching for a scientifically based alternative—or SEVERAL alternatives that target a rich variety of mental skills–then you’re ready to try out the online brain games available through Posit Science’s BrainHQ.

BrainHQ offers a research-based smorgasbord of different games scientifically designed to—

  • Focus your attention
  • Increase your brain speed
  • Improve your memory
  • Enhance your people skills
  • Sharpen your intelligence
  • Tune up your navigation skills

For a free trial, click on
Also available from Posit Science is a breakthrough game to train your brain to hear better. Read more at this Time magazine link:

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