• The Villages Mag

Lockdown Technology

Stay in touch. If you can’t meet loved ones or colleagues face to face, how can tech help you feel less isolated – or conduct effective business meetings?

Telephone - Don’t knock it – it works! And email, Facebook etc. still exist too.

WhatsApp - This is a popular app for smartphones that lets you text chat, voice chat or have video calls so you can see the person you’re talking to. Don’t underestimate how much better you feel after seeing peoples’ faces when you’re cut off from each other. You can use it on a computer too, but maddeningly, you need a smartphone to set it up in the first place.

Zoom - Not just an alternative to WhatsApp, this is a video conference tool that lets you have family get-togethers, business meetings and even lessons remotely. Unless you intend to discuss state secrets its weak security isn’t an issue – but do read Zoom’s advice and don’t publish meeting links on public places like Facebook. Most laptops have built in webcams and microphones, but check yours work before the meeting. Desktop PCs need a plug-in webcam.

Educating Charlie - With the kids at home all the time it is tempting to stick them in front of a screen for long times, but please don’t use TV and tablets as baby sitters. Kids need real people to interact with and physical interaction with the real world. So get them cooking, painting, doing woodwork, growing plants in pots or the garden – anything where they can get the feel of materials and understand how gooey, bendy, stickable and strong they are (yup, stuff will get broken: it’s the only way to learn). What about the tech? Well, Facebook and other sites are full of suggestions for activities at the moment. Be inspired!

The BBC and other broadcasters are presenting a rich choice of educational programmes. Take full advantage of them. But again, just looking at a screen isn’t enough. People learn best when another person engages with their learning, so stop the broadcast every ten minutes or so to ask questions and check your kids’ understanding. Record programs so you can go back later if you need to. And follow up with activities that build on what they have just learnt. Kids learn by doing.

But kids can get techie too. Get them writing games using Scratch and they’ll learn to program without realising it. If you need cheap computers for the family, look at the Raspberry Pi.

There is more on my website goggleboxtech.uk

Andrew - GoogleboxTech

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