Pandemic sees a rise in online activities – here’s a few
No thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, industries have halted and growth in many economies have almost come to a standstill. Individuals in some countries have reduced trips to the market, stopped going out, and other social activities, while some companies even tell their employees to work from home.
Due to travel restrictions because countries are trying to contain the spread of the virus, tourism industries are hard hit and airlines like Malindo Air and MAS are telling their staff to take unpaid leave.
To get an idea of how profound an effect this has on tourism and travel, we take a look at Thailand.
Because of the fall in tourism numbers, wild monkeys are brawling over food and taking it to the streets, something they never had to do before because tourists would usually feed them.
Gatherings of huge masses of people, are highly discouraged now and in some countries like Italy, China and Spain, everything is on total lockdown.
But while offline activities have decreased, it seems online ones are seeing an uptick.
Free tools, virtual content
A few weeks before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, almost all media engagements planned for the month, were cancelled. In their place, came online versions of media events, briefings and interviews conducted, mostly via Zoom video conferencing services. In this part of the world, the Zoom service is very popular because it is so convenient to use.
Zoom has reportedly seen a large increase in usage since the spread of coronavirus began, and has already brought in more new active users this year than last year according to CNBC.
Other online content providers and collaboration tool providers have also latched on to this rising trend of virtual meetings, virtual working and virtual activities. There is a long list of them, collated here by Bleeping Computer.
- Cisco – its free Webex meeting software will now support unlimited usage, and up to 100 people per meeting. There is also free 90-day trials for businesses that aren’t customers.
- Adobe – There is free access to use the Adobe Connect conferencing solution until 1stJuly 2020.
- CloudFlare – CloudFlare for Teams allow remote workers free secure VPN access to company internal resources for the next 6 months at least. Applicable for small businesses worldwide.
- Discord – Discord Go Live streaming will support 50 simultaneous users for free. It allows people to share screens/streams of their apps, which is useful for classroom and collaborative meeting environments.
- Google – premium features in their Hangouts Meet feature are free till 1stJuly, 2020. That means up to 250 users per call, live streaming for up to 100,000 users, ability to record meetings and save them to Google Drive.
- Loom – this video messaging platform will provide for free up till 1stJuly 2020, unlimited recording usage on its free plan. Use of Loom Pro will cost half of what it usually does – USD5 per month.
- Microsoft – Microsoft Teams is free for the next 6 months
- Zoho – There is free access to its remote work software Remotely up till 1stJuly 2020.
Other remote access software providers that are trying to make it easier for folks to work remotely, are Splashtop, Logmein, and TechSmith.
Do check them out. Huge props to Bleeping Computer for researching them.
As some measure of self-quarantining loom in the horizon for the citizens of Southeast Asia, there may be some head scratches among the ones who are usually busy with activities outside their homes.
The lack of activity may be paralysing for some. There is only so much house cleaning, organising, Netflix, PornHub, online entertainment or self-reflection we can indulge in before we self-implode.
Well, if you have the idea to use the quarantine period for some self-enrichment, we may have just the thing for you.
Technology is a wondrous thing. We’ve already seen from examples above, how activities you usually do in the real world, can become virtual now. So, besides working, communication and collaboration, what else can be virtual?
An often overlooked and under-emphasised activity is virtual learning.
It’s true, nothing beats actually attending classes and face-to-face interactions with lecturers and classmates. But, if we have to quarantine ourselves, why not give (free) virtual learning a shot?
- Coursera – This is one example of a multi-school site, so yes, they have courses from prestigious institutions of higher learning like Stanford by partnering with universities and organisations like museums and trusts, from around the world.
Due to this, it has a variety of topics and perspectives located in one searchable database.
- edX – This site has courses from many different schools, and covers a wide range of topics with quality content.
- Codeacademy – This is a website dedicated to teaching coding. Lessons are organised into complete modules.
- TED-Ed – This is a great site for general learning videos.
- University of London podcasts –This features podcasts from its own campus as well as 11 universities in and around London. The topics are wide-ranging but in-depth.
- Open Culture Online Courses – You can find hundreds of free courses from universities around the world, without having to visit and search each university’s own site. Lectures, videos or podcasts, take your pick.
- Virtual museums – This website offers free online virtual tours of 12 museums around the globe.
Besides these, did you know that these universities offer free online courses? Yale, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Harvard, Stanford, and UC Berkeley, do have online learning websites. .
Not all the courses are free, and there is certification offered after completion of some courses, not all.
Teaching/learning methods offered include webcasts, videos of actual classes, RSS feeds and more.
Peace of mind and coping with stress
For those of you with religious or spiritual inclinations, there is something for you as well.
Especially after Malaysia’s announcement to control movements of the public, houses of worship would be closed at least till end of the month.
In response to this, some churches are conducting live streaming of mass sessions during weekends. A few notable mass sessions being organised are included below:
Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur www.tv.archkl.org
Archdiocese of Singapore www.youtube.com/catholicsg This link also offers pre-recorded children’s mass.
Digital healthcare providers are also moving to roll out new solutions to reduce anxiety caused by COVID-19. Korea Bio Med reports that there are a range of new devices being utilised, ranging from mindfulness apps to virtual reality gear used during psychiatric therapies.
Mabo, s a mobile app created by South Korean You Jung-eun, which provides content for COVID-19 patients as well as those who are under quarantine. Together with the Seoul Medical Center’s Human Understanding Design Center, the company, Mabo Inc, produces and distributes meditation programs for COVID-19 patients, suspected patients in self-quarantine, and medical workers.
If you’d prefer live interaction during a meditation session, a meditation centre in Bukit Gasing is conducting meditation twice daily, but virtually via Zoom meetings. Mindfulness app provider, Happiness 2 Life. has the details here.
If you know of any service being provided to ease the stress and anxiety of self-quarantine, do contact us to let us know.