Coronavirus: Toronto residents using technology for responsible learning, socializing

As health officials continue to emphasize the importance of social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19, many in Toronto are turning to technology as a way to interact and collaborate responsibly.

For some, such as the Smith-Wolfe family, the province-wide shutdown of schools has meant a shift to online learning.

“It’s a challenge. They’re both young and they both need attention,” said Abbey Wolfe, referring to her two school-age children, Sammy, seven, and Lexa, five.

The two attend day classes with the UJA Federation’s Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Education. The switch to e-learning has meant some consistency in an unusual time.

“We are definitely getting into a routine,” she said.

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For the approximately 8,000 students in the 14 schools the centre supports, the online classes accomplish more than simply replacing in-school instruction, said Daniel Held, its executive director.

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“[They allow] kids to develop the resilience within the context of school, within the nurturing hand of their teachers who can guide them through these really challenging times,” he insisted.

Social distancing measures have also meant changes to many other aspects of the lives of Toronto-area residents.

Aliya Visram hosted her daughter’s sixth birthday party online after the family had to self-isolate following a vacation. Despite its scaled-down nature, she said it still left her daughter happy.

“For her it was the cake and seeing all of her friends,” Visram said.

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Technology expert Marc Saltzman told Global News modern solutions such as video conferencing can allow people to keep their social distance without being alone.

“You and someone else or several other people can simultaneously chat,” he said.

“So you can set up a daily call with your loved ones, with your friends. You could have a glass of wine while you’re chatting.”

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Saltzman also recommended “Netflix parties,” which use a free add-on to your web browser to synchronize a movie or show with friends.

“That allows you to simultaneously watch the same Netflix content with someone else, somewhere else and also chat at the same time,” he explained.


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