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Things to do online during lockdown
By: Amy Sweet
Last updated: Wednesday, 10 November 2021
Staying at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during this pandemic has compelled us to explore alternative ways to socialise, work, learn, keep fit, connect with nature, meditate and be entertained. Whether it’s using Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, Houseparty, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts or another of the myriad of virtual meeting apps, technology is enabling us to transition to a ‘new normal’ during lockdown.
Although some platforms have been around for a while, new ones are coming on stream as well as organisations innovating in how they share their services – often for free. Continuing to use such services online could contribute to more sustainable lifestyles; making it possible to adapt from excessive, polluting travel to living life a little more virtually.
Could conferences and other meetings continue to move online? Could remote working become normalised? Will we continue to engage more with virtual activities more generally? Whether or not this will come to light in the future, here’s a handy list of some things to do online now during this troubling time:
- Explore a huge range of famous museum collections via Google Arts and Culture from the comfort of your living room. While you’re at it, why not see what your Renaissance portrait would look like by uploading your photo with AI Gahaku or get involved in the 'Getty Museum Challenge' by recreating famous art works at home.
- Even though the International Space Station (ISS) crew are back on Earth, you can still enjoy a live stream view of our planet from the ISS to help keep things in perspective. Or tour Nasa’s Space Centre Houston facilities by downloading their app.
- Stay closer to home and virtually visit The Royal Pavilion, the Booth Museum and solve a murder mystery in the Preston Manor virtual tour. If you live centrally in Brighton, why not take a self-guided walking tour as part of your designated daily exercise. If you don’t live in central Brighton, here’s a live feed of the Palace Pier in case you miss this iconic view!
- See castles reconstructed to what they would have looked like in their prime or visit famous landmarks and buildings such as the Taj Mahal, The Vatican, the Eiffel Tower and the Sydney Opera House. You could even go on a 360° virtual ride at Disney World if you were so inclined.
- Wander around National Parks in the United States with Google Earth, including Death Valley, the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone.
- Stream plays, operas and ballets for free including performances from the National Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe, The Royal Opera House, The Metropolitan Opera, Bolshoi Ballet, as well as Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘The Show Must Go On’ YouTube Channel which streams each Friday at 7pm. Check the programmes for the others, and watch their previously streamed performances which are available for a limited time after the stream date. If you don’t fancy sitting through an entire play, you can watch Patrick Stewart reciting a ‘Sonnet a Day’ on Twitter instead.
- As well as the usual TV media players such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, All 4 and ITV Player adding more titles during this time, as a member of staff at Sussex you can access Box of Broadcasts (BOB) and sign up to Kanopy to watch films and TV programmes. If you want to watch your favourite shows or films with your physically distant friends and relatives, try the Netflix Party web browser extension to sync up and chat along while you watch.
- Some podcast recommendations include Professor Dave Goulson as a guest on ‘In the Weeds with Anne’ earlier this month, and Dr Chris Sandam discussing his rewilding research on Sussex’s 'Impacted' podcast. There's always classic 'Desert Island Discs' episodes to catch up on as well as Louis Theroux's new podcast 'Grounded' coming soon. In addition, local station Radio Reverb are going strong during this difficult time if you need a break from COVID-19 updates from mainstream media, or explore world-wide radio stations on Tune-In.
- Join a quarantine quiz with Big Drop Brewing Company’s weekly Living Room Pub Quiz, or Edinburgh-based Goose Quizzes every evening from 7pm. You can also play pre-set quizzes with your friends on Zoom with Kahoot – or create your own of course! Apart from quizzes, other games popular during lockdown right now are 'Words with Friends' and 'Draw Something'.
- Watch a wildlife webcam live feed such as the RSPB’s Osprey Nest Cam and the various Wildlife Trust’s webcams including bats, birds and badgers. Check how the otters, jellyfish and penguins are doing at the Vancouver Aquarium and the National Aquarium livestreams. Watch the penguin feeding frenzy at Folly Farm in Pembrokeshire at 11am and 2pm each day. Animal sanctuaries also offering webcams such as The Donkey Sanctuary and the Romanian Bear Sanctuary live feeds.
- As well as Sussex Library and local libraries in Brighton & Hove, other libraries are making more of their collections available online including New York Public Library and the British Library. Find out what other libraries are doing online around the UK at Libraries Connected. Why not join or start an online Book Club using forums such as Goodreads. Explore local Sussex heritage collections and dig into your family history at The Keep.
- Delve into a new topic or brush up on an existing skill with a free online course. Search a variety of courses offered by Ivy League Universities, the Open University, Skillshare, Futurelearn, and Amnesty International’s Human Rights Academy to name a few. You could also learn a language with DuoLingo, learn from professional photographers with Nikon Live, and make use of Fender Play's 3-month free online guitar lessons.
- Catch up on the WHO’s Global Citizen One World Together at Home series of home music performances. For other home music performances see NPR’s Tiny Desk (Home) Concerts, Sofar Sounds home performances, KEXP virtual concerts, Evanston’s SPACE ‘All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Show’ series of live gigs on Facebook, The Grammy Museum’s 'The Drop' series of conversations and performances, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Look out for upcoming live streamed concerts on Ticket Master. Stream DJ sets with the Boiler Room or create your own synchronised party with Rave where you can mash up tracks with an AI DJ whilst chatting with your friends.
- If you need a mindful moment, join Sussex’s Lead Chaplain Christopher McDermot every Wednesday at 4.30pm for meditation. Hotels around the world are live streaming their views and sounds to make you feel like you’re on holiday which could be an another way to unwind!
- Connect with community by joining the Sussex Community Solidarity – COVID-19 Facebook group. Sign up to your local Nextdoor neighbourhood online hub to reach out or to see if you can lend a hand to someone nearby. Find out how to support food waste charities such as Fareshare, The Real Junk Food Project and the Feedback Gleaning Network, plus Brighton and Hove Food Partnership’s crowdfunding campaign for providing food to the city’s most vulnerable people. If you grow your own fruit and veg, join the ‘Grow an Extra Row’ campaign. Get a Veg Box from Florence Road Market and buy another box for someone in need. Girls Who Grind are offering to send coffee to a health care worker when you buy a pack of their ‘They Care We Share’ coffee. Support local businesses and find out which of your favourite restaurants, cafés and bars are now delivering during this time on Brighton Quarantine Delivery and Restaurants Brighton websites.
- As well as clapping for carers each Thursday at 8pm, why not create a 'thumbs up for your postie' poster to thank our postal workers and delivery drivers, or give them a thumbs up when they come round - from a safe 2m distance of course!
- While the sun is shining, why not have a screen break and go outside and potter with some plants. You could conduct a wildlife survey, build a bird bath and create habitats and highways for wildlife in your garden. Even if you have no garden at all you can still grow some plants in pots on balconies or windowsills. If you can’t get hold of any seeds, try re-growing vegetables from food scraps.
- When the sun goes down, why not do a bit of stargazing. Use websites such as In-The-Sky to find out what is visible in the night sky where you are.
- Looking for a fitness video other than PE with Joe? Try Sussex Sport's free online classes. Or what about a Jane Fonda workout video for an old school exercise fix. If you're not feeling energetic, try a 5 minute desk yoga practice with Adriene. Namaste.
- Finally, since you're here, why not read the inspiring blogs as part of the Sussex Sustainability Research Programme (SSRP) forum responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Please note that these activities were correct as of Thursday 23 April 2020 when this blog was published. Some of these services may change.
As more of us are using new online services, apps and devices at this time remember to be aware of your online safety and also to make yourself familiar with Sussex ITS security advice.
Written by Amy Sweet, Communications and Engagement Officer for the Sussex Sustainability Research Programme (SSRP).
This blog is part of the
SSRP Forum: the Pandemic and Sustainability
This forum aims to contribute to the analysis of the impact of the pandemic on sustainability and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and to offer policy recommendations on how to respond to this unprecedented challenge.
The spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) presents us with an unprecedented challenge. We see losses of human life around the world, while one can hardly think what will happen if and when the pandemic reaches poorer countries with weaker economic and health structures. We see countries shutting down their economies to avoid the spread of the virus, as well as employing unprecedented measures of social distancing and population lockdown. We see whole economic sectors and households entering the intensive care of public financial support. In less than a month, the pandemic has redefined the priorities, parameters and boundaries of ‘what is possible’ in much of the world that we constructed since the Second World War.
The most urgent question is how to deal with the humanitarian crisis currently evolving and prevent it from getting out of control at a global scale. But a question we must also face is how the currently unprecedented mobilisation of public resources will be used to support our transition to a sustainable future, rather than a return to a socio-environmentally unsustainable past. One can hardly overstate the urgency of both these tasks. We in the Sussex Sustainability Research Programme (SSRP) community aim to contribute to this ‘mobilisation’ effort by setting up this Forum which aims to bring together experience, knowledge, ideas and recommendations to inform public responses to the pandemic and the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at both local and global levels.
Forum Academic Lead
Dr Andreas Antoniades, Senior Lecturer in International Relations in the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex.
Find out more about his Sussex Sustainability Research Programme (SSRP) project on 'Financial Crises and Environmental Sustainability'.