Inspired Smartphone Photography was a weekly, live, online photography course to help seniors in the Nanaimo community express themselves and feel more positive, every day, while living in the COVID crisis.

During the four-class program, seniors through Elder College learned how to take and edit photos with their phone camera, became inspired through learning the basics of exceptional photography, and created great photos they wanted to share with family and friends. Debbie Flynn was the volunteer instructor and creator of the program at Elder College.

After receiving the grant funding, Debbie, found it difficult to advertise the free program at the homes and recreational facilities where seniors would have seen the program as they were closed and it took time to find another outlet. Elder College, through Vancouver Island University, had moved all their courses online and were interested in offering them to their senior students in their spring session for a nominal fee. It was very popular and a second class was created. In total 40 seniors attended.

Elder College had been going through a huge learning curve to bring the seniors up to speed on using Zoom. The seniors were challenged with the Share Screen option on Zoom to show their photos and 80% of them did learn how to do it. These are the ratings from the Elder College survey for Debbie’s program; 15% of the students gave an extremely satisfied rating of 5/5, 70 % rated the program very satisfied with 4/5 and 15% rated the program fairly satisfactory with 3/5. The main concern was not being able to do the Share Screen option.

Debbie learned to let students send their photos to her prior to the class and have them in one place for her to share with the other students, to be innovative when the technology doesn’t work out and that it takes time to set up a program for seniors.

Feedback from the students included; achieving way more than they ever expected, became happier with the photos they took, gained confidence in using their camera and editing photos, felt the joy and wonder of photography, played with taking creative photos, and editing, course was very well done, useful handouts, very satisfied with the opportunity for class participation, very well organized and Debbie was knowledgeable. The faculty said Debbie was an exceptional instructor. The photo is the last photo one of the students, Pam Vipond, took for the class.
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