Zooming Becomes Vital Learning and Social Connection in Our New Normal



By Ada Leivada

If you are one of the tens of millions of people who are working online right now, you are probably teleconferencing a great deal, or “Zooming,” using one of the most popular teleconferencing platforms.

However, teleconferences are currently being used for a great deal more than just work meetings. Friends are enjoying happy hours together, and are even attending digital clubs where they have to pay to “enter” and need to respect the dress code! But on a more fundamental level, it’s also how families can stay in touch and where a lot of students attend classes and continue attending to their online Greek School.

What are Greeks doing online?

Even though an online app could never replace a Greek night out, Greeks are now taking advantage of these top downloaded apps to recreate gatherings with friends, celebrate birthdays and organize game nights online.

And when it comes to families who have tech-savvy grandparents, these apps appear to be popular with the crucially important effort to keep yiayia and pappou connected to their grandkids.

Greeks used teleconferencing this Easter to have their moms or grandmas help them bake “tsourekia” and to celebrate Easter together on Easter Sunday. This is the way godchildren chose to thank their godparents for all the Easter presents and to catch up until they meet again in person and can leave all these virtual “glendia” in the past.

And of course teleconferencing is the way to allow young Greeks and adults cot ontinue their Greek language education. Thousands of students now attend their Greek classes online; Liza Matz, the coordinator for Greek Lessons OnLine, which has been in operation since 2012, confirms that the registration department has never been more busy.

My Big Fat Greek Online Wedding

As the virus continues to keep us all in quarantine, people have found ways to make sure life will go on despite the current structures on gathering together. Lisa Kabouridis might not have had the chance to get married in the romantic Scottish castle she had envisioned, but during these times people remember what really matters.

For thousands of people just like Lisa, this is to marry their partner in front of their friends and family and without having to wait or cancel their wedding plans until things go back to normal. That’s why Lisa and her fiance Graeme used teleconferencing to get married in front of friends and family.

If you search for the hashtag #ZoomWeddings on social media, you will quickly see that Lisa and Graeme are just one of the hundreds of couples who decided to have a wedding online. The creators of all these platforms surely never even remotely conceived that their apps would be used as wedding venues — but what a perfect use for this technology!

Conference Calls Gone Wrong

As you can imagine, however, this new aspect of our new normal takes some getting used to. As a result, there have been a few incidents on these teleconferencing platforms that went viral and made us laugh out loud. A lot of people are talking about classmates or co-workers who went to the bathroom during a meeting or a class and left the microphone on.

Others, who had very serious business meetings with their boss, used the “potato filter” and did not know how to change it back, consequently making themselves look like a potato for the entire meeting. You might have also seen videos of online business meetings with husbands or children walking in the background in their underwear — or less.

Last but certainly not least, various pets seem to be the new teleconferencing co-workers that we all wish we had at our normal jobs all the time.

There is no question that during these times, we have all learned the hard way that there is nothing more important than spending time with the people who are around us, whether they are our co-workers, classmates, friends or family.

This contact and communication cannot fully be replaced by virtual meetings, teaching and learning, or even happy hours, online; however, it is very comforting to know that even during this, a friendly face is just a click away and the person behind it has the same need as you do to stay connected.

Technology is a true blessing right now and maybe we can finally learn to only use it as such in the future as well.