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May 12, 2020

Online group chats have become so common in the recent few months. And is it any surprise? With so many people staying at home, and travel paralyzed, the only way to do any group work or meetings of any kind is by using online platforms(1). People I know have told me about Zoom, but there are many others: Google Hangouts, Adobe Connect, EZ Talks, Gotomeeting, and the grandfather of these platforms, Skype. And of course we can also use Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp on our phones. We have never been so connected. I have a friend who is very 'techy' which means that she is proficient in her use of computers and their software. She happens to be a teacher, and for many years has incorporated online work into her lessons. Now that students are at home, and school is online, she has transitioned effortlessly into teaching from home. Other teachers have not found the change comfortable at all. I suppose it depends on what you teach as well. Imagine being a woodwork and metalwork teacher. How would you convert your very physical classes, to online ones? I suppose, you could supply lots of links to fabulous sites that teach techniques, tools, and perhaps even the history of those art forms. I suspect that if teachers use the internet in their online lessons now, the teaching could become global in its perspective, and they could tap into sites of experts in their fields.

My teacher friend, Jody, encouraged me to join one of these groups last week, to chat in French. I was delighted. The platform we used was Google Meet. There were only four of us, but one gentleman joined us from Normandy, in the north of France. I had no idea that he would be part of the group; it was a lovely surprise. Our session didn't have any glitches(2), thankfully. Everyone was able to get the link for the meeting. The cameras and sound were all working well. And after we had finished our introductions, we quickly, and naturally got right into conversation. I loved it. I felt connected in a meaningful way. We hope to continue these meetings once a week, and I hope to take a leaf out of(3) Jody's book, and become comfortable and proficient as a techy.

1. 'Platform' is a word that has multiple meanings. The first that springs to mind is a platform of a train station, which is where you wait and line up for the train. Platform is also used figuratively to describe a place or space that gives you an ability to work or perform.

a. Skype is one of the oldest platforms for video chatting.

b. Miss World has a great platform (of influence) which she can use to talk about girls' education.

c. A large, rectangular platform was raised up to the church ceiling so the painters could repaint it.

d. The Conservatives decided on their platform, hoping that it would appeal to the general public.

2. 'Glitch' is a noun that means a technical hitch or problem that stops proper functioning.

a. A computer glitch made us lose all the sound. I think it was a software problem.

b. The delayed plane was just a glitch in our plans. We eventually did fly.

3. 'To take a leaf out of someone's book' is a wonderful idiom. 'Leaf' here means a leaf of paper, or one of the pages. So, if you take a page from someone's book, you are wanting to use the information that they use, or imitate them in some way.

a. I took a leaf out of my violin teacher's book, and started practicing for 30 minutes daily.

b. Why don't you take a leaf out of your brother's book and get your homework done as soon as you get it?