u3a - Hybrid Groups

What is meant by “hybrid model”

At its simplest, in the context of U3A groups and activities, hybrid model is shorthand for combining two or more ways of members meeting together. Moving to a hybrid model means might entail moving beyond binary options of face-to-face gatherings or electronic meetings, to looking at how these might be combined so that some people might be meeting in the same physical space while others are joining in the same meeting or activity using electronic devices and/or telephones.
In some situations, a hybrid approach might be as simple as a small group meeting with a laptop in the corner with others joining in the discussion/activity electronically. In other situations, it might be something similar to a webcast with a live presentation being simultaneously streamed through Zoom, YouTube, or other means and possibly being recorded for later consumption. Other options may apply to outdoor activities, music making, drama, sport, etc., etc. The options will be determined by a number of factors including nature of activity, technical know-how of participants, willingness to experiment, etc. - and some activities are more challenging than others.

Writers Round Table

Are you a budding writer looking for inspiration or struggling with writers block? A hybrid group of writers may be the solution. A small number of writers (in line with the Government Guidance) may meet face to face whilst others join in virtually. This presents a perfect opportunity to invite other local or regional U3A writers. The group can hear talks, discuss current projects or get help and support in developing storylines. It would be an ideal opportunity to share your groups current writing whilst discussing this face to face and with members joining virtually. We encourage all groups to have a Winter project planned and it’s a perfect time to compile an anthology of short stories or host your own writing competition.

Getting Crafty

Craft groups are a great example of how you can come together either in pairs or small groups a face-face (as permitted) whilst also encouraging and supporting other members to join and follow the activity through Zoom. These groups would be facilitated by having a shared activity that the group as a whole are working towards, bringing their crafty ideas to share and inspire a project virtually and face to face , through pictures, feedback , tips and showcasing different results and effects. At the end you could host a virtual gallery of the final pieces and exhibit them in your newsletter and website.

Virtual Happy Hour - Food, Wine, Cakes

Connecting through drink & food has always been a been a favourite u3a pastime . You can meet in the local coffee shop and have members join you from their kitchen sharing in the exchange, the conversations and the humour. As a group you can research and sample a favourite wine, explore the history of festive cuisine dishes; or have a virtual baking session with members with coffee and cake on line for afters.

Hybrid Painting

Creativity and informality is at the heart of the hybrid activity and art is an amazingly unifying force. Bring your painting group together by deciding on a series of canvasses that you are each going to paint, incorporating a theme that can inspire and connect the whole group.
The group can share their art and feedback on the virtual whiteboard, a small group can meet face to face where permitted and join up the final pieces of work. Why not share this on the virtual gallery and create a hashtag for the series and share on social media.

Going Live

Up and down the country, regions and local boroughs, galleries museums and historic buildings have set up virtual tours of their exhibitions and buildings. At present you may be able to go to these galleries as well as supporting the cultural centres in your area. In small permitted groups you could tour the galleries and meet to feedback online on a particular exhibition. Plan a succession of series of talks, art or themes. Let’s be ambitious , if you have a group touring why – not go live so that others can join. YouTube Live is an easy way to reach your community in real time. Whether you’re streaming an event, teaching a class or hosting a workshop, YouTube has tools that will help you manage your stream and interact with viewers in real time.

Live discussions from the sofa

This is a great way to keep in touch. Bring your u3a members that can meet face to face as permitted and organise the discussion for a wider audience of members who may join the group discussion.  You will need to come up with discussion topics, have a moderator and  be clear on the platform you are using that it is open to all of your members.  This would be ideal for history groups, current affairs interest groups and a perfect way to have a coffee morning.


Read the latest Covid-19 guidance for u3a groups, and access further support in running groups online