What does COVID-19 mean for the tech economy?

Is digital media the future of learning in a time of social distancing? (Photo source: Pixabay)
Is digital media the future of learning in a time of social distancing? (Photo source: Pixabay)

Tech-industry observers are, in a word, bullish about the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the technology sector. They see an opportunity to profit from a boom in apps and network services for critical needs, such as education.

The benefits of shared virtual experiences and live-streamed video are clear enough in a time of social distancing. Yet these technologies are unevenly adopted, and not everyone has easy access to a high-speed Internet connection.

It’s all about the innovation

What type of economy will COVID-19 leave in its wake?

The Black Death that decimated medieval Europe made workers a premium, creating a nascent labor class and helping spur the invention of the clock to track hours worked.

The 1721 smallpox epidemic spurred the growth of the free press in Boston, where debate raged in local newspapers over low-tech inoculation methods.

And SARS in Asia led to both social isolation and the rise of e-commerce.

Now, the pandemic of 2020 seems to be ushering in the age of WFH — working from home — and “contactless” delivery.

Source: Forbes

Isn’t there an app for that?

A two-day virtual “hackathon” organized by an Israeli institution and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology focused on building apps that respond to the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

The idea was to develop programs that make social distancing bearable and even productive.

Among the proposed innovations were an errand-referral app to connect people on the go to those with critical needs who can’t leave their homes; a “Seniorgarten” video-conferencing program to link up elders with each other and their families; and a number of distance-learning services.

Source: Jerusalem Post

Digital education … or digital divide?

Will COVID-19 finally usher in the “learn anywhere, anytime” mantra of distance education for vast numbers of people — or will it do the opposite?

Innovative virtual-learning solutions are currently being implemented around the globe, from online physical-education classes in Lebanon to a massive investment in remote learning in China.

Big, new and expensive partnerships seem likely between national governments and private technology companies peddling innovative remote-learning services.

This could lead to profound changes in countries where education has mostly been provided by the government.

But lack of equal access to the Internet and digital technology may just widen the digital divide. Right now, only 60 percent of the global population is digitally connected.

On the other hand, a big investment-push to go online may also end up bringing digital infrastructure to developing nations and neglected regions.

Source: World Economic Forum

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