By Olivia Canter
As many search to understand how social distancing impacts our daily experiences, it has become evident that technology plays a critical role in the current times. From education to the news to personal relationships, the Internet has allowed society to stay connected with each other and continue many of their daily tasks via online communication platforms.
According to a spokesperson, Microsoft saw a 500 percent increase in meetings, calls, and conference use in China since the end of January. The use of communication platforms expanded in the United States as well, due to the increasing trend of working from home. Zoom Chief Executive Eric Yuan highlighted the “large increase in the number of free users, meeting minutes and new video use cases.”
In response to the increasing demand for this technology, companies such as Zoom, Microsoft, and Google have offered their programs for free and have taken numerous measures to ensure their ability to accommodate the growing number of users. Steckelberg, the CFO of Zoom, stated to Yahoo that “we really want to do what’s right, and the opportunity to get more people exposed to Zoom, we think will reap benefits in the future.”
For example, Zoom has ended their time limits on their video communication in the US, China, Japan, and Italy. Google has opened their special video features to the public, such as the ability for larger meetings up to 250 people and a recording capability. Furthermore, Microsoft is rendering their premium features free for six months. In regards to the kind actions of these companies, Junior Lorraine Disano describes her appreciation: “It is so nice that these online platforms are making their quality features free. I use these features everyday, and their kind actions display the significant sense of community in the current COVID-19 pandemic.”
Workers and students across the globe have utilized these new benefits, including the Byram Hills School District with the shift to online learning. Thanks to the hard work and flexibility of our teachers, students are able to learn from home due to the detailed and informative lesson plans. “When I am teaching through distance learning,” explains Mr. Borneman, a well-respected BHHS chemistry teacher, “I first create a concept list of how I want the unit to flow. I then check the internet for good videos that can hold the interest of my students. If I cannot find videos that I am satisfied with, I make the video myself. I then look for worksheets, and last I put the unit together in what I call an Activity List.”
Mr. Borneman furthers that “student feedback is the most important factor in teachers facilitating student learning. Good teachers rely on constant student feedback to revise their lessons and make them good learning experiences.” In response to the high consideration of the teachers and administration toward students, Junior Lizzie Manowitz expresses her gratitude: “They have made the shift to online learning very smooth. The teachers often schedule Google Meets and send me helpful videos, which I value very much.”
In addition to e-learning, technology has allowed society to keep in touch with peers. From direct messaging to social media to Zoom, people have the ability to remain connected with friends and relatives while social distancing; without technology, the quarantine would have meant a much higher degree of isolation.
Not only does technology allow connection with others, but it allows people to access the current news and important information. Kristin Eickelbeck describes how she stays up to date in the current times: “Every night, my family watches the news, and I often read informative articles on the Internet.” Technology allows people to stay informed about local and global events.
In sum, as society made the shift to social distancing, there was also a major shift in how technology is utilized to support our everyday lives. Technology plays an integral role in how our current society can communicate and advance, revolutionizing individual lives, as well as the global network.