We are witnessing the closure of many businesses and cancelation of activities and events due to the Covid-19 pandemic to prevent physical contact and virus spread. Where applicable, activities are shifting online and people are starting to work and collaborate from home. We have an opportunity to see how quickly the world can change. For example, taxi drivers delivering food and groceries in collaboration with restaurants and shops, since their customers had to stay home. However, this adaptation was not possible everywhere: many traditional business sectors and activities are still struggling to find a way to operate in these conditions. Hence, IT-related businesses and activities are probably the ones that adapted the quickest. This doesn’t come as surprise: personal computers and internet connection, in addition to a variety of software solutions, is essentially what is needed for them to operate, and the pandemic hasn’t directly threatened those so far. Online collaboration, work from home, online video meetings, screen sharing, etc. are all well known and widely used in the IT world. One of the IT courses I’m familiar with, teaching young people in B&H web development and at the same time testing a new financial scheme for deferred payment, was in its midst when the Covid-19 crisis occurred.
At first, everyone was frightened, so two classes were postponed to avoid physical contact. After a few days, teachers and students agreed to move online. The first online class was organized using Zoom, everyone participated from home and it went excellent. The course has been organized like this for weeks now: screen-sharing has successfully replaced the projector, webcams and microphones simulate being in a teaching room, while time spent on traveling to back and forth can now be used to practice and participate in additional online courses. The fact that many online courses are now free affected a larger number of students to attend them and gain additional knowledge. Communication between teachers and students, and students between each other, seems to be more frequent. Classes often last longer than the scheduled hour and a half (video calls are restarted twice – those who use a free version of Zoom know why). In between classes, an instant messaging application is widely used to share insights and ways to solve homework problems. Not only that the course continued without any significant problems, it even has additional students who joined a few weeks after the pandemic.
Popular IT tools are being used in other sectors to overcome current obstacles, as well. Interactions between IT and traditional sectors are creating mutual benefits, nowadays as well as prior to the pandemic. These interactions are helping the society be more resilient – that’s what we are witnessing right now: thanks to IT solutions, things haven’t completely stopped. However, we mustn’t rely on it excessively, because viruses don’t attack just humans.
(Inspired by the increased use of the Zoom app due to Covid-19 and #TheLastOfUs.)
Illustration: Alexandra Koch