The COVID-19 pandemic is reaching truly dangerous proportions. Travel has shut down worldwide, education institutes have been ordered closed almost globally, business and enterprise have taken a severe hit internationally, even as the scientific community toils to find a cure and governments are scrambling to find ways to contain the virus spread.
Tech comes to rescue
Given the gloom, it is remarkable that work has thankfully been able to limp along across all sectors – in the form of work-from-home options for employees, governments announcing monetary concessions companies and training and education shifting to online and virtual modes.
In this regard, software industry is better placed in continuing to function, stabilise development operations and impart training owing to the inherent hi-tech and wired infrastructure it already has in place. However, the sudden closing down of school and university campuses in several countries, has forced the shift of education and learning online.
IT biggies get into the act
Software industry giants like Google, Microsoft, Zoom and Cisco are expectedly at the forefront of by offering special software to colleges to move classes online. According to US-based MarketWatch website, Google announced earlier this month that it was providing free “advanced” Hangouts capabilities to users of its Education suite until July 1, giving educators the ability to host larger virtual meetings and have recordings, while Cisco is offering its Webex Education software 180-day free trial to schools during the outbreak of COVID-19, MarketWatch reported.
Online training has indeed become a weapon to fight coronavirus. Microsoft said in a recent blog post that the company is providing “resources, training and how-to guides” for educators who wish to use products like Teams videoconferencing for their classrooms.
WHO shows the way
Ironically, the fight against coronavirus is itself being conducted online, in terms of spread of information on preventive measures, panic control and myth-busting. The WHO (World Health Organisation) is making available real-time knowledge and training from experts on how to detect, prevent, respond and control the virus via its online training accessible across the globe. Thousands of users are registering for training every day, suggesting the high level of interest among health professionals and the general public.
In a reflection of the scale of shift, not just lectures but even attendance and absences in group classes are being marked online. So is the case with the move of job interviews online, and all kinds of expert consulting shifting to video-conferencing and virtual sessions.
The dramatic shift
— Education starting to be conducted online globally
— Online education software sales see spurt
— Meetings, interviews going virtual
— Info on virus control being dispensed online
— Enterprises conducting almost all interaction in virtual space
— Consulting being done largely via the Web
Are we living the future already?
Observers are currently wondering if we are already living the future here and now – by beginning to implement and experience methods of teaching and other interactions that were deemed for a later era. In any case, whether for the good or bad, the future has perhaps been hastened!