Lesson of the Day: ‘We Live in Zoom Now’

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Featured Article: “We Live in Zoom Now

The coronavirus has changed how we work, play and learn: Schools are closing, sports leagues have been canceled, and many people have been asked to work from home.

Overnight, Zoom has become a primary social platform for millions of people, a lot of them high school and college students, as those institutions move to online learning.

In this lesson, you will learn how, in a time of social distancing, Zoom is where we now work, go to school and party. In a Going Further activity, you will brainstorm ways that you can help less computer-literate members of your community learn how to successfully navigate the online world.

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you, your family, school and community?

  • Are you and your family practicing any forms of social distancing, such as maintaining a distance between you and other people of at least six feet when you are in public; minimizing contact with people; limiting nonessential travel, working from home or skipping social gatherings?

  • How has the coronavirus affected your education? Has your school closed and moved to remote learning? If so, how effective has it been? What learning platforms are you using?

  • How are you staying connected to friends and family? How much of your life has moved online? What do you miss most about your social life before the coronavirus outbreak?

Read the article, then answer the following questions:

1. The article begins, “On Sunday afternoon, Eleanor Dolan celebrated her 17th birthday in Minnesota with 20 of her closest friends.” What was significant about Ms. Dolan’s birthday party? What does it illustrate about life during the coronavirus pandemic?

2. What is Zoom? What services does the company provide? And why has its iOS app become a top free download in Apple’s App Store?

3. How has Zoom been preparing for this moment since the new coronavirus began spreading in China in January? Why does Paul Condra, a technology analyst, believe that “this is a crisis tailor-made for Zoom”?

4. Why has Zoom caught on with Gen Z users? How have Gen Z’ers been adapting the platform for their own needs? Give three examples.

5. What changes to Zoom would younger users like to see, according to the article? If you currently use Zoom, what upgrades and features, if any, would you like to see?

6. What are some of the privacy concerns about Zoom, according to the article? Which, if any, concern you most?

7. The article concludes:

On Saturday night, Claire Tran, 22, hosted her first Zoom party after being holed up in her Washington, D.C., apartment for nearly a week. Twenty-one of her friends popped in throughout the four-hour event.

“Before we started the call I was like, this is cool, maybe we’ll do this once a month,” she said. “After it ended, I was like, I need this every weekend or I’ll go crazy.”

Have you ever participated in a Zoom party? Would you like to?

1) Share your opinion.

2) Create a meme for our moment.

The article describes the proliferation of social distancing memes to help make sense of and cope with these challenging times, including a Facebook group for young people trapped at home called Zoom Memes for Self Quaranteens,

Create a meme that illustrates how you are coping with social distancing. You might use a well-known meme or browse The Times’s coverage of the coronavirus to find an image that you can turn into one of your own.

3) Help someone — a family member, a teacher, an older adult — to better navigate the online world.

As work and school increasingly move online, many are left bewildered or frustrated. What can you do to help others who may be lacking in relevant computer, social media and online skills?

Reach out to friends, family members, teachers and neighbors and find out their online needs. Then, create a tutorial — a poster, YouTube video or something else — to help them master an essential online skill or tool. You might consider the following people as your audience:

  • Teachers who have never used an online learning platform and suddenly have to teach all of their classes this way.

  • A grandparent who is unsure how to use FaceTime to connect with family.

  • A parent who needs to work remotely but doesn’t know how to use Zoom.

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