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Isolation in the Digital Age

How modern technology can ease the strain of "social distancing"

May in Oklahoma usually signifies a return of so many things we've all missed throughout the winter months. Outings to parks and playgrounds, sporting events, Mother's Day brunch, graduations, and plans for family travel as the school year comes to a close. 

This year, however, unexpected changes came about with the onset of COVID-19 and the necessary precautions to contain it and help those who have become ill. We have all been feeling the strain even since these early days of isolation, and social distancing began. 

While we understand it is for the good of the community and the best way to slow the spread, thus reducing the strain on medical facilities and personnel, the isolation is not easy. This especially rings true for families with kids stuck at home away from their friends and usual springtime activities. 

Unlike in past times of stuck-at-home cabin fever, in 2020, we have the advantage of technology. Between the internet, streaming video technology, web-meeting software, and satellite imaging, there are new ways to keep ourselves connected, entertained, and even some opportunities to learn something new. 

I have compiled a list of options, some free and some subscription-based. Many are always offered, and some are in response to the current COVID-19 situation.

Digital Learning and Entertainment:

Subscription-based services:

The Great Courses Plus
The Great Courses Plus brings higher learning right into your living room. Enjoy multi-part college courses from renowned professors throughout the country. Enjoy audio-only or audio-video in many categories, such as Music & Fine Arts, History, Literature, Science, Anthropology, Math, Leisure, Languages, Economics & Finance, Mathematics, Health & Fitness, and Travel. A free trial is available before subscribing. 
https://www.thegreatcoursesplus.com/

Curiosity Stream
A monthly or annual subscription to thousands of documentaries available to stream on your laptop, TV, phone, and tablet. 
https://curiositystream.com/

Masterclass
Learn a variety of subjects from some of the best in their fields. Learn about Filmmaking from Jodie Foster, Storytelling from David Sedaris, Photography from Annie Leibovitz, Makeup Artistry from Bobbi Brown, or BBQ from Aaron Franklin, Italian Cooking from Massimo Bottura, Acting from Natalie Portman, and much more.
https://www.masterclass.com

Babbel
If you've wanted to learn a new language, but never seem to have the time, now is your chance! Babbel is an interactive online learning program offering more than a dozen language options.  Each lesson takes 10-15 minutes, so once we're not cooped up anymore, you can still fit it into your schedule.
https://www.babbel.com/

FREE Streaming Services:

YMCA 360
If you are looking for ways to stay active, the YMCA is providing on-demand fitness videos provided free of charge for streaming from the YMCA. Among the classes available: boot camp, barre, yoga, weightlifting, boxing, Tai Chi, and more.
https://ymca360.org/

The Metropolitan Opera
Take in a bit of culture with free live-streaming from The Metropolitan Opera. Each nightly show from their past 14-years of the archive will be available for 23 hours without a subscription.
https://www.metopera.org/


Free Virtual Tours

Google Arts and Culture
Explore virtual tours, photo galleries, online exhibits, and informative articles from over 2,500 museums and galleries worldwide.
https://artsandculture.google.com/

Google Earth
If you are suffering from wanderlust and unable to explore new places, let the satellite images, trivia, and destination guides of Google Earth whisk you around the world.   https://www.google.com/earth/


Be Social, From Home

Virtual House Party
Happy hour, game nights with friends, and family dinners provide camaraderie and entertainment for many. During this time of social distancing, it is easy to miss those favorite activities. Choose one of many online platforms (some free, some paid) and gather your guest list for a virtual get together. Whether for drinks or trivia, great times can be had by many from the safety and comfort of your home. 
https://zoom.us/
https://houseparty.com/
https://www.skype.com/en/

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