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Abby Duke

Date:

Monday, March 23, 2020

Using Technology to Maintain a Sense of Community During COVID-19 Quarantine

As COVID-19 spreads throughout the world, the need to #stayhome has become more and more necessary and even mandatory for some states and countries. However, as we do our part to fight the spread of disease by practicing social distancing and self-quarantine during the pandemic, the opportunities for regular face-to-face interactions have become a rarity, which may lead to one feeling isolated and out of touch with their peers and community.

Never fear! With the help of modern technology, you can maintain your sense of community in several ways. Keep up with your friends, family, classmates, and peer and professional groups by using the platforms you are already familiar with in creative and fun ways. Keep reading to learn more.

Using Social Media

When NSHSS high school students were asked how they are staying connected to their friends and community, several responded by naming off the social media platforms they were primarily using. NSHSS Ambassador, Devon responded, 

 

“My town has a Facebook group and my friends and I normally chat on Instagram and SnapChat.”

 

Snapchat can be a fun way to communicate with others by sending short videos and pictures to your friends throughout the day. It also has a chat feature making responding to the videos and pictures quick and easy to keep the conversation flowing. 

Most students already know that they can also keep in touch with others by using Facebook Messenger and Instagram messages, which means that sharing those hilarious memes are only a few clicks away. Another unique feature that Facebook and Instagram offer, is the ability to go “live.” If a user would like to interact with several others at the same time, they can choose to stream “live” straight from the platform and interact instantaneously with as many people that are tuning into the streaming. On Saturday, March 21, celebrity DJ, “D-Nice” hosted a 10-hour virtual party via Instagram Live. Celebrities like Will Smith, Oprah Winfrey, and Former First Lady, Michelle Obama, were among the 100,000 guests that stopped by to enjoy #ClubQuarantine, making this digital dance party one for the books!

NSHSS members including members of our leadership groups (Ambassadors, Student Council, and Fellows) host Instagram and Snapchat takeovers regularly, giving our members the opportunity to interact with our community frequently. Our members will log in to the NSHSS Instagram and Snapchat accounts and showcase their school and community involvement, college and career interests, and answer any questions from the audience about themselves or NSHSS in real time throughout the day, connecting the NSHSS community in a unique way. So be sure to tune into and interact with NSHSS members from across the country and the world on social, @nshss.

NSHSS also keeps our Student Council (college) members and members that have entered the professional world (Fellows) as well as educators connected via three LinkedIn groups, where users can share opportunities and current events, exchange ideas, and network on a regular basis. 

Using Communication Platforms 

Schools and businesses alike are now scrambling to find the best way to digitally communicate with their students and colleagues during the sudden need to move from an in-person to a remote setting. The good news is, there is an abundance of platforms out there readily available to meet your needs. Platforms such as Skype, Zoom, GoToMeeting or GoToWebinar, Microsoft Teams, Slack, and many more have chat, call, and video features that you can use from your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone allowing you to get that face-to-face interaction you’ve been missing when you need it. Most of these platforms have free versions that make using them even easier. These platforms are useful for school club meetings, study groups, or even just meeting up with your friends for social hour!

NSHSS uses the platform Slack to help it’s leadership groups and volunteers to stay connected with each other. The students use the chat room and messages features daily to discuss NSHSS opportunities, college prep questions, and much more. We also use GoTo Meeting for regular virtual meetings with our Student Council Executive Board on a monthly basis. If you would like to become an NSHSS Ambassador or student council member, applications are currently open until April 15 and you can find them on your member dashboard. 

NSHSS also offers several partner-hosted webinars to keep our members up-to-date and prepared while adjusting to new methods of learning. Students and parents can attend and interact with presenters and other attendees during webinars like “College Funding” by SMARTTRACK or “Tips For Keeping Your College-bound Student on Track During Closures” from Method Test Prep. 

You can also use these platforms with friends and classmates by planning a regular “coffee break.” Reserve a time to connect with your network that isn't geared towards school work or business, but simply social topics; cooking, pets, movies, games, etc. Take a mental break and just socialize.

Another activity is having a fitness hour online. You could lead or attend a yoga class, weight lifting, or even aerobics! CorePower Yoga has free online classes to get you started.This will help you connect with your network of peers or friends but also keep you off the couch all day. 

Other Fun Ways to Connect Virtually 

Online Interactive Games can help keep you from feeling bored or isolated during your self-quarantine. 

Drawful 2 is a fun interactive game similar to Pictionary that allows up to 10,000 users to play at once! 

The world's largest gaming platform, Steam, has a wide variety of free online multiplayer games. This is a useful way to decompress and have a good time virtually hanging out with your friends and passing the time.

Additionally, you and a group of friends can now stream and watch your favorite movies together online with the Chrome extension, Netflix Party, complete with a chat feature. So get the popcorn and pizza ready and let the viewing party begin!

We are all in a unique situation where doing your part involves staying home, but that doesn’t mean you have to be bored or detached from your networks. Be creative. Be innovative in continuing to interact in a world that has become increasingly digital. Use this time to hone your technology skills while also pursuing your interests, learning about a new topic, or catching up with friends. You will no doubt enjoy the downtime, find new opportunities, and continue to grow with the experience.