With many people being asked to socially distance themselves from others, while other cities have placed their residents under mandatory lockdown to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus, the United Nations has tips for those seeking to strike the balance between vigilance and the need to maintain some normalcy in their lives.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is rallying international organizations, civil society and private sector partners in a broad coalition to ensure that learning never stops. The agency has also release a document listing distance learning solutions and recommendations.
Distance learning solutions
The list of educational applications, platforms and resources below aim to help parents, teachers, schools and school administrators facilitate student learning and provide social care and interaction during periods of school closure. Most of the solutions curated are free and many cater to multiple languages. While these solutions do not carry UNESCO’s explicit endorsement, they tend to have a wide reach, a strong user-base and evidence of impact. They are categorized based on distance learning needs, but most of them offer functionalities across multiple categories.
Digital learning management systems
Systems purpose-built for mobile phones
Systems with strong offline functionality
Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Platforms
Self-directed learning content
Mobile reading applications
Collaboration platforms that support live-video communication
- Dingtalk(link is external) – Communication platform that supports video conferencing, task and calendar management, attendance tracking and instant messaging.
- Lark(link is external) – Collaboration suite of interconnected tools, including chat, calendar, creation and cloud storage.
- Hangouts Meet(link is external) – Video calls integrated with other Google’s G-Suite tools.
- Teams(link is external) – Chat, meet, call and collaboration features integrated with Microsoft Office software.
- Skype(link is external) – Video and audio calls with talk, chat and collaboration features.
- Zoom(link is external) – Cloud platform for video and audio conferencing, collaboration, chat and webinars.
Tools to create of digital learning content
With school closures, parenting has become increasingly challenging. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has issued six parenting tips for parenting during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has upended family life around the world. School closures, working remote, physical distancing — it's a lot to navigate for anyone, but especially for parents. We teamed up with the Parenting for Lifelong Health initiative to bring parents and caregivers a set of handy tips to help manage this new (temporary) normal.
Explore the parenting tips
"School shutdown is also a chance to make better relationships with our children and teenagers," says UNICEF in the guidance document. "One-on-One time is free and fun. It makes children feel loved and secure, and shows them that they are important."
School shutdown is also a chance to make better relationships with our children and teenagers. One-on-One time...makes children feel loved and secure, and shows them that they are important.
UNICEF recommends parents and their children to create a flexible but consistent daily routine. “COVID-19 has taken away our daily work, home and school routines. This is hard for children, teenagers and for you. Making new routines can help,” it says.
In a document on how to talk to children about the coronavirus disease, UNICEF says “children have a right to truthful information about what’s going on in the world, but adults also have a responsibility to keep them safe from distress”, recommending that adults use age-appropriate language, watch children’s reactions, and be sensitive to their level of anxiety. UNICEF also offers some advice for employers on how they can support working parents during the coronavirus outbreak.
The closure of gyms, sport facilities and stadiums, public pools, dance studios, and playgrounds means that many are not able to actively participate in individual or group sporting or physical activities. But that does not mean, people should stop being physically active, nor should they disconnect from the coaches, teammates and instructors. In the lead up of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (6 April) the United Nations is working with influencers in sport to create social media messaging encouraging audiences to be active and to foster solidarity against the challenges posed by COVID-19.
The World Health Organization recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week, or a combination of both. WHO also have some tips on how to achieve this with no equipment and with limited space. There is an abundance of free and accessible online and digital tools targeted at encouraging people of all ages and abilities to stay active and mobile while remaining indoors.
Changes to lifestyle during this difficult period can adversely affect people’s wellbeing. It is always important to protect mental health. WHO has released a 31-point guidance on mental health that specifically targets the general population; healthcare workers; health facility managers; childcare providers; older adults, care providers and people with underlying health conditions; and those who are living in isolation to try and contain the spread of the pandemic. (Read UN News story on this).
UNICEF has some tips on mental health for teenagers. One recommendation is to find new ways to connect with friends via social media. Get creative: Join in a Tik-Tok challenge like #safehands. “I would never underestimate the creativity of teenagers,” says Dr. Lisa Damour, expert adolescent psychologist, best-selling author and monthly New York Times columnist. “My hunch is that they will find ways to [connect] with one another online that are different from how they’ve been doing it before.”
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