No. PLATO membership is open to anyone who has an interest in being part of a participatory learning organization. UW-Madison Continuing Studies supports PLATO as one means of fulfilling the "Wisconsin Idea" of extending the University’s resources beyond the boundaries of the campus.
You can join PLATO at any time, but all memberships renew on August 1. If you join between April 1 and November 30 you will pay the full membership fee, which is $60. If you join between January 1 and March 31 you pay half the membership fee, which is $30. Renewal notices are sent out July 1.
For the most part, yes. The membership fee covers attendance and participation in all courses. But for some special events, such as the annual luncheon or a bus trip, there may be an additional fee and some courses require that you purchase a resource book.
No. PLATO is a nonprofit corporation organized under Wisconsin law and is recognized by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service as a tax exempt organization under section 501(c)(3) of the internal revenue code.
No. While PLATO focuses on serving 50+ learners, people of all ages are welcome to join. The only requirement is the love of lifelong learning.
Yes, but there are limits. PLATO provides two types of activities, courses and special events. If you are not a PLATO member, you can attend a course on a trial basis before joining. In that case we ask that you decide whether to join after one or two attendances. For special events such as the annual luncheon or a bus trip, a PLATO member may bring non-member guests.
In some cases pre-registration is requested; in other cases it is not. The decision one way or another is made by the course coordinator. Each semester’s course schedule will indicate the courses in which pre-registration is required.
Each semester’s course offerings are listed on the schedule page. The course schedule lists the course offerings and includes links to the course description, location, and coordinator. The week prior to each semester there is a Open House where course coordinators are available to meet, ask questions, and sign up for courses.
The course structure is very informal. If you have any questions, feel free to contact the course coordinator. Coordinator names, phone numbers, and email addresses are shown on the course schedule.
There is considerable variation in subject matter, format, and educational approach in the different courses. In some groups, a schedule is prepared in advance and distributed to participants. For other groups an advance schedule is not possible, since the weekly discussion is dictated by participant interest. In short, one size does not fit all.
PLATO members lead or “coordinate” each course. In some cases these members may be UW-Madison emeritus faculty, but this is coincidental. As our name indicates, PLATO attracts individuals who are interested in teaching as well as learning. Thus any member can propose to teach or, as we prefer to say, “lead” a course.
PLATO’s curriculum is totally created by PLATO members. Any member can propose to lead a course. If you are interested in developing a course, you can complete a Course Proposal form and submit it to the Chair of the Curriculum Committee.
PLATO activities take place in a variety of community locations throughout the Madison area.
There is a range of levels of participation. The week prior to each semester there is an Open House. Course coordinators present brief descriptions of their offerings. This gives you the opportunity to ask the course coordinator.
In some courses there is outside reading, and participants are expected to have done this reading. For other courses there is no outside work. PLATO’s diverse educational activities have no set pattern.
The short answer is simply to ask. For more information about volunteering go to the Volunteeer page or contact any Board Director or Committee Chair. PLATO is always looking for more members to become involved in its activities.