Adult Learning in the Fitchburg Area (ALFA)

Register for ALFA's 20th Anniversary Love of Learning Day! 
ALFA hikers on top of a mountain

ALFA (Adult Learning in the Fitchburg Area) is a lifelong learning institute that serves adult learners in Fitchburg and the surrounding communities. ALFA is sponsored by the Center for Professional Studies at Fitchburg State University in collaboration with volunteer members of the community. 

We offer non-credit daytime courses, free discussion groups, and intergenerational opportunities to participate across campus. ALFA students are encouraged to volunteer and participate in program leadership and development, as well as social and recreational activities.

The Adult Learning in the Fitchburg Area (ALFA) Office is available Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Contact us by email at or call 978.665.3706.

Spring 2024 Registration

ALFA 20th Anniversary: Love of Learning Lasts a Lifetime

Shirley Pick Spring Series: Love of Learning Day: ALFA's 20th Anniversary Celebration
May 22, 2024 | 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.  Fitchburg State University 
$20 per person 

Register Today

Make a 20th Anniversary donation

Please join our celebration of 20 years of Adult Learning in the Fitchburg Area and make your secure, tax-deductible donation today.

The Shirley Pick ALFA Fund was established in honor of one of ALFA’s founding members, Shirley Pick. Your donation to this fund will help ALFA to offer even more innovative and rewarding programming for older adults, expand our intergenerational programming, and continue to offer high-quality courses using Fitchburg State faculty and community instructors.


ALFA's 20th Anniversary Events

ALFA Course Catalog

Browse the course catalog to see what we are offering.
Read more about: ALFA Course Catalog

Burg Blog

Check out the Burg Blog for photos and more information about ALFA and other Center for Professional Studies classes.
Read more about: Burg Blog

Learn More

ALFA stands for Adult Learning in the Fitchburg Area. Originally begun as a program for local older adults, ALFA has since expanded to include participants from over twenty surrounding communities. Thanks to our new online programming, we now have participants from across the country!

ALFA is a Lifelong Learning Institute that offers non-credit daytime courses, free discussion groups, and intergenerational opportunities to participate across campus. ALFA students are encouraged to volunteer and participate in program leadership and development, as well as social and recreational activities. ALFA is sponsored by the Center for Professional Studies at Fitchburg State University in collaboration with volunteer members of the community. 


ALFA provides an opportunity for lifelong learners with similar interests to meet in an informal setting and pursue learning for enrichment and personal growth.

ALFA is sponsored by the Center for Professional Studies at Fitchburg State University, in collaboration with volunteer representatives of the community.

Board of Directors

ALFA is governed by a Board of Directors, which includes the following:

  • An executive committee
  • A Fitchburg State University liaison
  • Associate members who advance ALFA’s goals by serving on committees or teaching classes

The Board of Directors meets Every 2nd Tuesday at 2:30pm. For committee meeting dates, please contact the committee chair.

If you need to connect with a board member, please contact the ALFA office at (preferred) or 978.665.3706.

Board Members

Executive Board    
President  - Barbara Friedman
Vice President -  Steve Pincott
Secretary  - Nancy Fillip
Treasurer - Sally Hens

Committee Chairs    

  • Kristen Gibbons, Publicity
  • Lisa Moison, Curriculum
  • Joyce Hinckley, Nominations
  • Sally Hens, Special Events
  • Roni Beal, Food For Thought Series/ Shirley Pick Spring Series
  • Vacant, Meet and Greet
  • Sally Hens, Remembrance/Sunshine
  • Steve Pincott, Technology Committee 
  • 20th Anniversary, Carol DeCarolis and Linda Kennedy


  • Executive: President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer
  • Nomination: Identify and present potential board members
  • Publicity: Make personal presentations and suggest press releases
  • Curriculum: Develop classes and brochures
  • Special Events: Arrange group trips - Currently on hiatus
  • Food for Thought: Organize speaker programs - Currently restructuring
  • Remembrance: Send flowers, cards when appropriate

ALFA courses are currently being held online, in the Center for Professional Studies Classroom, and in the Dance Studio in the Recreation Center at Fitchburg State University.  In the past (and hopefully again in the future) we have held courses in the following locations around our community:

Fitchburg State University

Zoom Login Information

After you register, you will receive your confirmation by email. You will then receive your Zoom Class Invitation with all of the information you need to log into your Zoom class one week before the course starts.

Equipment and Tech Requirements

You will need some basic equipment to participate. To fully participate in the video based online classroom, you will need:

  • Computer (Laptop or Desktop), Tablet, or Smartphone.
  • Microphone, Speakers, and webcam. Most laptops, tablets and smartphones have these features already built in. If you are using a desktop computer, please make sure you have all of these elements.
  • Internet/Wi-Fi access

Note: You may also participate with a landline phone but you will only be able to hear the audio and will not be able to gain the full benefits of the course.

Possible Issues

  • Low bandwidth is detrimental. High speed internet service provides better results.
  • Audio and Visual issues are mostly the result of using older or lower quality devices.
  • Best results are achieved on newer laptops followed by tablets and then smartphones.
  • Phone and video combinations can work but adds to the setup complexity.
  • Regardless of the device, make sure you are using the latest version of Zoom program or app.

Zoom Etiquette and Online Learning Tips


  • Dress as if you are in a real classroom.
  • Be vigilant about your background making sure that it is not offensive. 
  • Be cognizant of family members or pets -surprise guest appearances are not permitted.
  • Be on time for class:
    • This assists the Technology Assistant to allow participants to enter the meeting in an orderly manner.
    • The wait to enter the virtual classroom could be longer if you are late for class since class entry won’t be the main focus of the Technology Assistant once class has started.
  • Use the same name that you used when you registered for class.
    • This is to promote an ALFA community of learners
    • To help the technology assistant identify you when you want to enter the virtual classroom.
    • Provides an additional barrier for security; only those registered for the session may partake in the session.


  • Only registered students will be admitted to classes. No guests at this time.
  • Please do not take screenshots, videos, or post to social media (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.). 
  • Mute your microphone unless given permission to talk.
  • Use the Hand icon to alert the instructor you wish to speak.
  • Stay muted when someone else is verbally presenting or screen sharing.
  • Use the chat feature to comment or ask questions. We discourage private chats.
  • The instructor or tech assistant will give students permission to unmute themselves by mentioning it in conversation or chat.

Expert Suggestions:

  • Position your light source directly in front of you, not behind, to avoid shadowing and contrast problems.
  • Headsets with microphones can improve your ability to be heard.
  • Headphones and earbuds can improve your ability to hear.
  • Stands for iPads (tablets) and mobile phones provide stability.
  • Upgrade systems especially if they are no longer supported by their manufacturers. New and higher quality devices generally work better.


ALFA In-Person

Updated 8/9/2022

If you are taking an in-person course, please know that we are adhering to all state and federal guidance around efforts to minimize the spread of COVID-19. At the time of this publication, these are the guidelines that we ask you to follow.

Vaccination: If you are taking an in-person course through ALFA, we expect that you are fully vaccinated. We are not currently asking for proof of vaccination.

Masking: We are a “mask friendly” environment. All community members and guests are strongly encouraged to wear masks at any time when it is personally warranted or desired to protect oneself or others. Employees may require guests to their individual offices to don a mask at their discretion. Please continue to carry a mask with you while on campus to be able to accommodate requests. If you have forgotten yours, you may pick one up in the Center for Professional Studies.

Attestation: No longer required

If you are symptomatic: Do not go to class and test for COVID. If you are positive, please let the ALFA office know ASAP.

To view more information about Fitchburg State University's COVID-19 response, please visit our Coronavirus information page.

*Please note that these guidelines are subject to change*

ALFA Registration Instructions

Registration opens at 9 a.m. on December 12, 2023

Ways to Register

All ALFA courses are $45 a course unless otherwise indicated.
Online (Preferred):
You can register for ALFA courses online by going to

  • Make sure to complete your registration by hitting the final SUBMIT button. When you have successfully completed registering, you will see an order number on the final screen. Please make sure to write this order number down! Soon after, you should also receive a confirmation email.
  • IF YOU DO NOT RECEIVE A CONFIRMATION EMAIL, please contact us with your order number to confirm that you are registered.

By Mail:
We will continue to accept paper registrations by mail.  However, we are strongly encouraging everyone who can to use the online course registration system.  

  • Please complete a separate registration form for each person taking classes. DO NOT try to register two or more people on the same form. We will not be able to complete your registration. If you need additional registration forms, please visit our website to download and print one. Paper Registration Form (PDF) 
  • Registrations must be MAILED. No phone-in or hand-delivered registrations will be accepted.   
  • Any incomplete component may delay the processing of the registration form. 
  • All registrations are processed in the order in which they are received.  
  • Please make a copy of the completed registration form for personal records. 

Payment Instructions

  • We accept credit/debit cards (PREFERRED) and check payments. 
  • If you choose to pay by check, all check payments (both online and paper) are processed electronically as E-Checks and will appear as “ACH DEBIT” on your checking account statement. 
  • If you submit a PAPER REGISTRATION and pay with a CHECK, but are WAITLISTED for a portion of your order, we will process the full payment in the amount entered on the check. We will then issue a refund for the surplus amount. 
  • If you are sending in registration forms for multiple people, please submit a separate check for each person you are registering.  If you combine payment for two separate registration in one check, we will not be able to process your payment or registration and will either shred it or return it to you in the mail.
  • Payment is due upon submission of registration. 
  • Course, Trip, and Special Event payments are not refundable or transferable unless canceled. 

*Please note: Some classes have additional expenses including required materials you will need to purchase prior to the course starting, recommended materials, and sometimes a required materials fee (cash only) that is due to the instructor at the first class. These additional materials and fees are indicated in the course description. 

General Information and Policies

Enrollment: Prompt return of forms will facilitate early processing and improve the chances of getting preferred classes. Due to space limitations and instructor requests, class size varies. It is important to list alternatives in the event that your first choices are not available. If no alternatives are listed it will be assumed that none are desired.  
Confirmation: If you register online: You will receive an order number when you complete your registration. Please make sure to write down this order number. If you have an order number, you have successfully registered, Congratulations! You should  also receive a confirmation email  within a few minutes of registering. If you do not remember seeing an order number and you don't receive a confirmation email, please reach out to the office to make sure your registration was completed successfully. If you register by paper: you will receive a confirmation by email if you provided an email address, or by mail, if you did not. 
Location of Courses: ALFA classes will be held in-person on-campus in the CPS classroom, in-person in an outdoor location in the surrounding community, or online, unless otherwise noted.
ALFA Inclement Weather Policy: Online courses will NOT be canceled due to inclement weather. In-person courses will be canceled if the University is closed or delayed due to inclement weather. 
Over 90: Are you 90 or over?  Classes are free for those who are 90 or above.  If over 90, please email the ALFA office so that we can get you registered free of charge!  

Parking and Transportation

A valid Fitchburg State University parking permit is required to park on campus.

You will receive a Temporary Parking Permit Application with a parking hang-tag, a copy of the Rules and Regulations, and a parking map in the mail. Please bring your completed permit application to your first class, and be sure to hang your tag from your rear-view mirror facing out to avoid being ticketed by University Police.

Please make sure you are parking in the commuter parking lots. These are the lots marked in red on the map. Parking in any other lots, or in places that are not parking spaces will result in a parking citation. If parking in Commuter lots is unavailable, please park your vehicle at the Civic Center and utilize the free shuttle to get to campus.

MART Transportation

Do you need a ride to class? All seniors who live in Fitchburg Massachusetts can call the Fitchburg Senior Center at 978.829.1790 to register for MART Transportation Services. Once registered, the Senior Center calls in the information to MART.

Shuttle Service

Parking on campus can be quite difficult, but there is always ample, free parking at the Civic Center! Fitchburg State provides free campus shuttle transportation, serviced by MART. It is easy to use and gets you from your car to your destination without much walking. Two shuttles run on a continuous loop which usually means there is one every 10 minutes.

  • Route: Civic Center along North Street to Main Street, Fitchburg Intermodal Center and return to Civic Center. The shuttle runs continuously during posted hours.

About ALFA

Thank you for considering to teach for the Adult Learning in the Fitchburg Area (ALFA) program. Each non-credit course runs for 1.5 hours each week for five weeks and is a total of 7.5 hours long. Our instructors are current and retired Fitchburg State faculty members, local community experts in their fields.

  • Session I: September - October
  • Session II: November - December
  • Session III: January - March
  • Session IV:  March - April

ALFA Weekly Course Schedule Example

Example of an ALFA Schedule of Classes

Course Proposal Forms

If you would like to teach for ALFA in one of the upcoming sessions, please submit a course proposal by submitting the appropriate form. 

Community Instructors:

Fitchburg State Faculty (NEW PROCESS):

Please use the following Dynamic Form version. This version of the form will go immediately to your department chair, dean, and provost for approval before it is submitted to ALFA. *Please note that there is only one form for both spring and fall for Fitchburg State faculty.

Course proposals are received until the deadline. Once we have received all of the courses, we will send out course schedule confirmations within a few of weeks of the deadline.

Are you a community instructor looking to offer a course with ALFA for the first time?

We are always looking for local experts in their field to teach for ALFA! Please submit a course proposal above and then submit (within a few days) the following supplemental material to alfa@fitchburgstate.eduIf you do not submit the following information, we may not consider your course proposal.

  • A biography (about a paragraph or so)
  • A photo of yourself to accompany your bio in the brochure
  • Resume (Fitchburg State Faculty do not need to complete this step)
  • Three letters of recommendation. The recommendations should be submitted electronically directly by the reference person to State Faculty do not need to complete this step)

When choosing new instructors or when deciding to run a new course with ALFA, we are looking for a combination of the following qualifications:

  • Official credentials in the specific field or subject matter that you are looking to teach.
  • Extensive and specific experience in the topic.
  • Prior experience teaching this topic to others.
  • References that can speak specifically to your experience and expertise on a topic.

ALFA often receives more course requests than there are slots of courses. Submitting a course proposal does not mean that the course will automatically run. There are many factors that are considered when deciding on which courses will run each semester. Thank you for understanding!

Instructor Compensation

Community ALFA instructors receive a $250 stipend to teach. Full-time Fitchburg State faculty receive a 1 credit load reduction.

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