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Beacon Senior News

Top websites for surviving COVID-19

Mar 25, 2020 03:34PM ● By Adam Cochran

Many of you are reading this column from your homes this month. Maybe you’re reading it on the BEACON’s website for the first time.

Along with reading your news online, you have begun doing things that you’ve avoided for years.

You’ve joined Facebook or other social media. You’ve started banking online, and even learned to use that little camera at the top of your computer screen.

Just like how 911 led to an increase in the adoption of computers into homes, no doubt COVID-19 will have an even greater impact on how we all use technology.

Here’s a hodgepodge list of technology resources and tips useful during times like this:

Homeschooling

KhanAcademy.org - This website is fantastic for teaching anyone STEM courses. It’s free and it’s complete enough that most schools accept completion of a Khan Academy course as a substitute for the same course offered by the institution. Khan Academy is also introducing humanities courses, and the catalog is expanding constantly.

Crash Course (www.YouTube.com/user/crashcourse) - A lot of teachers don’t like Crash Course videos because they present weeks’ worth of classroom lecture material in 20 minutes. Even worse, students remember the video material better. My daughter was once told that she wouldn’t be so bored in class if she wasn’t watching the Crash Course videos at home.

www.Wolframalpha.com - Your grandkids are gonna love this! It’s a website that allows you to search for citable facts. Best of all, it will solve almost any complex equation and it will show the steps taken to solve the problem.

News

News.google.com - No single news outlet is completely reliable and accurate 100 percent of the time. However, you can browse the headlines quickly from a variety of sources. The site also allows you to search the world’s headline via the power of Google.

Fact-checking

My article on page 20 discusses the importance of being a responsible news consumer and how to detect ethical and objective journalism. If you choose to use a fact-checking resource, I recommend using several as each tends to have a political or social slant to it: Allsides.com, Politifact.com, Factcheck.org, APnews.com/APFactCheck and Snopes.com.

Medical

I suggest that you follow medical advice that you read online as closely as you follow investment advice from a guy at the bar who’s on his third beer at 3 p.m. No matter how good the advice sounds, you always want to verify it with someone you trust.

Working from home & Video chatting

Many online meeting platforms will be stressed during this time. If you can afford to subscribe to a service, it will likely provide a more reliable, better experience.

Hangouts.google.com is a group video, audio and chat service that is free from Google. It’s probably the easiest to implement, but it is also more unstable due to its high demand.

Skype.com is free, but more reliable if you pay into one of its plans. If you are looking for a professional solution for larger meetings, I recommend Microsoft Teams or Zoom. Microsoft Teams is great for educational or professional use and is a more enhanced version of Skype.

Zoom.us is an excellent group video, audio and chat platform. Best of all, meetings of 40 minutes or less are free for more than three people. There is no time limit for gatherings of less than three people.