An ‘almost technophobe’ view of online tools by Carole Williams

How quickly the world has changed for us.  We are having to upskill very quickly to find a way into this online world.  Those of us that are cautious (I didn’t use a contactless card until quite recently)  are having to become fearless risk takers.
As someone that tends to buy kitchen white goods with the smallest number of programmes, based on my experience of generally using the same 2 or 3 all the time, I have had to dive in and start swimming.  Both of my jobs need me to be responsive so that I can support others. 
I thought some people might find it useful for an almost but not quite technophobe like myself to share what I have discovered so far.
There are various ways you can connect for online meet-ups whether they are social, hobby related or work. Before you use anything I recommend you do some research to see what people are saying about any tools that you are thinking of using.  You need to stay safe online so a secure internet connection is essential.  You might also want to look at a website like this to read up on how to keep yourself and your data safe for peace of mind
 Here’s a couple that I have been using with some links to more information
A lot of people have heard of this one and it is very commonly used.  Free to get and to use I have found it a really good way to keep in touch and I know some other SCDA folk who regularly use it to stay in touch with friends and family who live far away.  There are some tutorials on the homepage if you scroll down and once you have called someone their details are easily retrieved for future calls.  There doesn’t appear to be a limit on the duration of the call but there is a limit of 100 hours per month.  Tony Flisch, SCDA Chair, and myself have our staff meetings on Skype each week and it works well for us.
This is proving very popular and has gone viral since remote working and the lockdown became part of everyday life.  Again it is free to get and free to use.  You can hold large meetings and there is quite a lot of flexibility on it.  There is a limit of 40 minutes per call usually but this appears to be waived for some users at the moment.  However if you call from a large organisation they may enforce this limit and some are even being blocked unless they subscribe to the paid package.  There are some nice backgrounds that you can use to make it look like you are somewhere else such as a desert island.  I’ve attended a few zoom meetings but haven’t set one up myself yet although I am hatching some future plans for zoom activity.
Here’s a link for a simplistic giude to using zoom 
Here’s another useful link to a message from zoom about how they are responding to concerns around keeping people safe online – it is interesting to see how surprised they are by the way that zoom has taken off
This is the one I am most familiar with through my other job at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.  The person setting up the event or meeting has to have Microsoft office but other people invited to the meeting don’t have to.  There are some nice features that I have used such as blurring your background and I have found it to be generally reliable. 
I use this quite a lot on my phone but did you know you can also download it onto your computer.  It feels more like an enhanced texting tool but I am happy for that to be contradicted by any of you who regularly use it for connecting ditigally.  Again free to use if you use an internet connection but be careful if you use data on your phone – it can eat it up quite quickly.
Lastly, did you know that you can see the most recent posts on the SCDA Facebook page without having a Facebook account?  If you go to the What’s Going On menu on the homepage and select Facebook you can see them directly on the website.  Ideal for anyone who doesn’t want to have a Facebook account!
These are not recommendations!! I know that there are other platforms available.  I am just sharing my own recent experiences, perhaps you use other instant messaging packages that you could speak about or maybe you have come across limitations or problems with some?  It would be great if you could leave your comments here and flag it up on Facebook so that others can benefit from your experiences.  Try to keep it as non-technical as you can so that people like me can understand.
Stay Safe, Stay Connected, Be Creative


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3 comments on “An ‘almost technophobe’ view of online tools by Carole Williams

  1. Carolyn Harrison

    I hope this helps some people to stay connected at the moment Carole. We are all having to adapt to new ways of communicating with each other now.
    Stay safe out there!

    1. Carole Williams

      Thanks Carolyn – I think people are getting to grips with technology gradually and learning what works well for them. I hope that you are ok as I know that you will be very busy. Thanks for posting a comment. Carole

  2. Pingback: How to Run a Playreading Event – SCDA

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