A pandemic is a time which often requires hindsight to process. One is left coping as it takes place. As the world is in a state of the global health crisis in the times of Covid19, people across the world are employing different ways to incorporate and deal with social distancing, sheltering, and quarantining in different measures.
The measures to stay at home and indulge in movement across the streets only for essential goods and services is in the best interest of flattening the fatality curve.
It is then no surprise that millions of people find themselves at home for periods longer than they are used to under normal circumstances. However, the circumstances are extraordinary and, therefore, the strategies to survive these times (and find ways of hope) are also above normal.
One player that has emerged overall helpful in this situation is a digital connection. Technology is shining brighter than ever in the most fruitful ways at this time of dire need. It is connecting families, businesses, and also playing a great role in the medical services at this time of emergency.
This is the whole point of technology. It creates an appetite for immortality on the one hand. It threatens universal extinction on the other. Technology is lust removed from nature.
– Don DeLillo
The fields of professional services, education, and the arts are delivering with the use of technology. The DeLillo quote especially rings true at this moment when people are cordoned off at their homes by themselves, with partners, or larger families.
The areas of the personal, professional, and private meet in the limited physical space of a home. The following is as much a witness to the technological truths at play at this moment of human history as much as some ways in which these intersections can meet most meaningfully.
Working remotely is not a new concept. The rise in the number of people working remotely is worthy of note-making. The systems of communication, relation, delegation have been reconstrued to accommodate remote working, especially in spaces which had not experimented with remote working until this point in time.
In this context, video conference platforms have emerged as a solution, albeit riddled with extreme amounts of scrutiny and privacy concerns. Zoom is the most popular due to the interface.
Google Meetings, Duo (for a very small number of people), Microsoft platform, and Skype are some of the alternatives. It would also be interesting to see what this change due to necessity would do for global work culture once the pandemic is in the past.
Some pointers to increase productivity and efficacy while working remotely
- Creating a workspace for oneself can be extremely important in a manner that is symbolic and literal. Symbolically, the division of space marks the zone that one needs to get into even if one is working from one’s own home.
- In a literal manner, it has been seen that using spaces of relaxation like beds and couches to work decreases productivity as they promote associations of lounging.
- One should learn the different benefits of using a particular video conferencing platform. It can also be useful to see which version of a video conferencing platform suits the purpose of one’s business the most.
- This can be based on the number of employees, the amount of time that the meeting ensues for, and the kind of tasks that need to be delegated.
- Screen fatigue is an important and negative by-product of connecting through screens for various of our current needs.
- It should be observed that meetings over the screen and video conferencing platforms should be called only when the communication cannot happen over an email or a phone call. More than ever, it is important to discern if ‘this meeting could have been an email’.
- Lastly, it is a reflective time for managers and supervisors (anybody who has work to delegate) to see what kind of management might be best to carry out at a time of mass remote working. Overmanagement might be taxing for oneself while under management can lead to a slump in productivity.
A statewide closure of public schools and universities has seen the shift to online educational systems. While many institutions took an initial break to rearrange the systems for maximum usefulness, now many of them are continuing their teaching and learning through online forums.
The assignments, classes, and homework has remained similar to the normative structure, but what is missing is the ready availability of peers and teachers to help students to accelerate their learning curve.
At this moment, it is technological and e-learning spaces that students are turning to. E-learning has been developing for many decades and this seems like the (un)opportune moment to test their success.
Along with audio and video props for learning that are used in physical classrooms, spaces like Bartleby have become of use; spaces where students can find help to excel at subjects and find a reservoir of similar questions that might help catalyze the pace of learning.
Educators are also uploading explainers and how-to videos at a higher frequency to aid their students to learn concepts.
Some pointers to make the online educational experience most consequential
- As a student and a teacher, it is important to create a space of the least amount of distraction. It is advisable to keep all other gadgets in another room for the duration of classes.
- It is important to learn together at this time of isolation. Create smaller groups of peer learning where you share the workload but also check up on each other and keep bonds alive.
- Keep the channels of communication regarding feedback open as an educator, especially if one is new to it. It is of higher chance that students are more adept at the technology and could give valuable suggestions.
- In lieu of education, it is not only STEM educational material that is available online but many other alternative learning platforms like art, theatre, academic organizations are making museum tours, lectures, articles, performances, and talks available free of cost. One has much to learn from all of these too.
Where to, next?
In the current moment of shift in every form in our lives, it is important to acknowledge that self-care is important. This would look different for different people but taking a break from technology at times to rejuvenate is one such self-care tip.
Technological advancements in these ways have made it possible for us to be professionally, personally, and pedagogically connected. This pandemic might also result in seismic shifts in the way we learn, play, and work. This is for the times to come to prove true.