More than a year in to the pandemic, the new norm for social distant communication is virtual media.  Everyone is jumping on the train from kids videocalling their school teachers , to business meetings arranged online, to even Grandma and Grandpa catching up with the grandkids via video calls. Now when Covid-19 first hit, it was uncertain what roles these services would fill with people believing the restrictions would be short-term temporary. But then lockdown restrictions went into play, and were extended…. and then they were extended again and again. In fact the lockdown extensions have severely impacted industries that were functioning within the economies of “live media”. So much so that they were left grasping for virtual interactive replacements that could fill-in for the restricted live gatherings. But now with a new report by Reuters showing that half of USA adults have been vaccinated, getting back to real-time events is now back in the circle of discussion.

Beyond just circling in the discussion, there’s a new report out from the National Research Group, saying that nine out of ten consumers are ready to get back to these real-time events. The study also shows in a post-pandemic reality that seven of ten consumers plan to continue interacting virtually. So it suffices to say that not only do we really enjoy virtual and videocalls, but the expectation of live events has shifted to virtual as part of the everyday experience.

“What began during the pandemic as forced substitution now reflects a major evolution and democratization of the live events category,” said National Research Group CEO Jon Penn in a statement explaining the live industry’s adoption of virtual options in an ongoing evolution of live media substitution. New virtual media is definitely convenient, and what’s driving this major evolution has more to do with the unique possibilities they offer. Virtual events surpass live media events by creating new ways to connect through community and co-creation that weren’t previously possible.

With the COVID-19 vaccine continuing to rollout, marketers are expecting events in the future to progress further toward fusion of virtual and live media. We can see some examples of the industry’s biggest shows taking shape like the South by Southwest music festival as well as the Consumer Electronics Show moving to a virtual options. Personal conversations and networking have been replaced by video-calling apps, chatboxes, and live streams. For example, musicians at SXSW connected with fans over live streams for intimate performances, press releases, and cooking shows across Facebook and Instagram. Other teams created interactive websites where fans could preview new music and have access to exclusive purchases via a virtual merchandise store. Rather than framing the discussion in black and white terms (virtual vs. physical), creators now have a spectrum of possible options to fit their particular needs in a given moment.

The annual CES trade show, multi-day event in Las Vegas, NV.

 

The live events continue in the creation of virtual spaces where young people flood social interaction in videogames like Fortnite. In one of the industry firsts, Travis Scott held a record-breaking concert on the platform back in April 2020 that had over 45.8M views across the five times it was aired.

Next to Scott, Lil Nas X attracted over 30 million visits to the videogame platform Roblox across four weekend performances of his virtual concert in November of 2020. Taking it a step further, Lil Nas X jumped into playing the Roblox game with some of the biggest Youtube influencers around to extend the interactive experience.

One of four Performances by Lil Nas X, Roblox November 2020.

At the beginning of this pandemic, the goal for video calling and virtual events was to replace the aspects of in-person gatherings by going video. However the examples given in this article suggests that the opposite is happening — as we get back to the ability to do events in-person events, we’ll also notice that there is progressively more video interaction and virtual options. Educational institutions are using video apps like Ourglass and Zoom to further enhance the interactive experience. Artists and Musicians are using platforms like Twitch and Discord to enhance their consumer’s experience. And now the consumer of tomorrow is looking to “live” not only to create new memories with their dear ones, but also to get closer than ever to their favorite creators, get tailored instruction from their favorite teachers, and to participate as a co-creator in a shared moment.

cryptocurrency, bitcoin

 

Can I pay my providers in Cryptocurrency? 

We’ve received several questions that can be summarized as, “Can I pay my Ourglass providers in cryptocurrency?”. Given COVID-19 upending the world’s economy, it’s a valid question to say the least. We’ve seen ups and downs of cryptocurrencies’ valuations over many years. Now with the uncertainty of the US economy and all other US dollar-dependent economies, bitcoin is on the rise yet again. The direct answer to this cryptocurrency-meets-Ourglass question is that Ourglass currently does not have any specific integrations to process cryptocurrency transactions.  

However, there are some creative ways to use Ourglass with cryptocurrency.  

First, some context: cryptocurrency was originally designed to make improvements in transaction dependability, availability, and speed through technology and decentralization. The single biggest challenge in the adoption of crypto in everyday transactions is the limited businesses who accept crypto directly. As a new business, we too face this challenge because our core competency is improving paid video calls for people; innovation within banking is not our core focus. Fortunately, for the crypto-curious, there are debit cards that allow cryptocurrency to be exchanged for fiat currency at point of sale.  Let’s take a look at some of the best ones we’ve found:

 

  • Wirex

Wirex is a U.K.-based company established in 2014. They offer a multi-currency Visa card that supports conversion from several major cryptos available for use by their 30+ million customers in 130+ different countries. One of the great perks of the card is it gives users a 0.5% BTC reward on all in-store purchases through its Cryptoback Program. In addition to that, the card also has its own built-in utility token (WXT).  For users who hold more than 500,000 WXT tokens, the Cryptoback rewards are increased to 1.5% BTC. So utilizing this card with Ourglass comes with benefits and is best suited for clients outside of the USA as the card is not yet available domestically.

 

  • Plutus

Our runner up is one of the longest running crypto card services, Plutus. This London startup began in 2015 and has its own loyalty token (PLU) which is awarded to users every time you use their debit card. Currently the only cryptocurrencies available are Etherium ETH and their own PLU token. The card can have funds added by way of GBP or EUR as it is only available in Europe. Usable outside in almost 200 countries, they also have a virtual bank account available in the European Economic Area for free.

 

  • Bitpay

Bitpayis arguably the best option for U.S. residents. In fact, it is exclusive to U.S. citizens. The card costs $9.95 and funds can be added using eight fiat currencies from the Bitpay wallet.  From there the card can conveniently be used anywhere that accepts Visa. Bitpay’s currency conversion fee is 3% of each transaction.  Other less frequently applicable fees & limitations include $3 every time you use an ATM outside the U.S, daily transaction limits of $10,000, and $1,500 per day & $5,000 per month withdrawal ceilings.

 

These cryptocurrency debit cards are bridges to using Ourglass with crypto that ensure Ourglass clients can operate in the fiat currency of their choice.  Given that the cryptocurrency usage continues to increase over time, we do foresee Ourglass working directly with cryptocurrencies, but for now we are focusing on helping people make more money in less time via paid video calls.  For an extended list of potential crypto debit cards that might suit your needs, please check out [ Cryptowisser: Cryptocurrency Debit Card List ].

 

 

How do we prepare for the shift to online teaching? 

As schools navigate how to teach during a pandemic and we become increasingly aware that there isn’t a clear break in sight, remote learning has moved from an exception to the rule. This change requires teachers to invent new ways to hold students’ attention online while parents similarly scramble to fill the social void children face with social distancing. Tutors and educators are adapting their position and accessibility to their students, while institutions are forced to mitigate financial cutbacks in the education sector.  The demand for digital education has outpaced educators’ expertise.

 

Although online education served a small percentage of American children prior to March 2020, ‘distance learning’ in higher education had gained legitimacy in major universities (Washington Post – ‘After gaining legitimacy, can online higher education replace traditional college?’). As online learning becomes not just possible but necessary for all levels of education, new streams of income and career advancement are surfacing. The ‘brick to the click’ shift in teaching means that our traditional “knowledge providers” — teachers, tutors, therapists, coaches, etc. — need to develop a new set of tools to maximize their effectiveness in the digital classroom.  Here are 5 power tips on how to prepare for teaching online:

 

  1. Simplify Your Curriculum. Online lesson plans are much more focused on self-directed assignments and learning, therefore, proper planning upfront is critical to the success of distance learning. Your student/clients will assess your course materials, deadlines, and online support flexibility against their schedule before committing to your course.  Be sure to have your syllabus prepared with very clear instructions and require a minimum of paid support resources, ideally one or two.

 

2. Prepare and Master Your Technology. Invest in the right hardware and software to give your clients a seamless digital experience. You will need a strong internet connection (check https://www.speedtest.net), a portable device like a phone or tablet, and the best platform to suit your needs. There are many available options. Ourglass, for example, is a mobile app that enables regular social interaction often lacking from many online lesson plans with the ability of pro-rated charging for 1:1 sessions that run overtime. Whichever one you choose, you will need a single digital platform that keeps things simple. 

 

3. Prioritize Stimulation In Your Assignments. Digital courses are run differently than classroom courses. Digital requires a higher level of detail with more time to plan, and failing to do so can leave your course feeling cold and mechanical. So prioritize engaging your students and clients in discussion and participation around your course material. Don’t be shy asking for perspective and opinions to actively pull your clients into engagement. 

 

4. Motivate Your Clients With Regular Communication. In the digital space communication is paramount, so it’s important to maintain a healthy and consistent online presence. Be sure to introduce yourself and give your students and clients the opportunity to introduce themselves to each other. Each student and client should know how best to contact you outside of online sessions. Your students and clients will miss the human connection the most when reflecting back on their standard educational experience. So in being proactive with this steady communication, you you are creating  personalized touchpoints with your clients. You can create these through social network groups, comments on shared documents, emails, video messages, etc. Once you have established your best channels of communication, follow through with a consistent frequency and your clients will greatly appreciate it. 

 

5.   Actively Request Client Feedback. The feedback given from your client base is some of the most valuable feedback you can receive. A student or client who has attended your course most likely has attended online courses before, and that experience can help inform the quality of your material forward. They can inform you of the positives and negatives of the overall experience. Also requesting their feedback also shows an additional level of respect in valuing their opinion. Education is a field of “sharing” so these connections can turn out to be priceless in your development as a knowledge provider. 

 

Are you ready to take the online teaching plunge? 

The reality is online education is quickly becoming the global standard in this realm in the digital age. Some people may choose to ride the wave surfs up, while others may be swallowed by it. In either case there is clear evidence that it is a growing market for knowledge providers on an international scale, thanks to the accessibility of modern technology. The potential is there to influence a volume of students that you would never have the opportunity to reach in a traditional class or business setting. While it may not be the simplest platform to digest, it is a fairly new platform  meaning there are multiple lanes to success. Do your due diligence with continued research and you just may find yourself ahead of the class and the curve. For more insights on navigating through these tough times, check out  [ Forbes: Why 2020 Will Be Online Educations Biggest Year ].

 


 

COVID has us soul searching our passions.

The combination of skyrocketing business closures and cabin fever at home has led many people to rethink their streams of income.  According to a recentsurvey from a popular staffing firm, more than 57% of office professionals are second-guessing their current line of work due to the pandemic and all of the existential questions about health, home, and priorities. Of this large majority rethinking their work future, 44% will now be prioritizing their personal life overwork, with another 33% wanting to pursue something more meaningful in their life.  Considering the U.S. national unemployment rate of 10.2% as of July, we can expect to see structural changes to employment trends in our economy functions for the remainder of 2020 and 2021.

 

 

Uncertainty is the only certainty.

Changing careers while federal stimulus aid touted to sustain people through these difficult times has been curtailed and can be nerve-racking during this pandemic.  As a result the number of people working 2 or more jobs among those employed, has skyrocketed as families struggle to maintain their livelihoods. The often-overlooked risk of multiple jobs per person (and family) is the increase in the chances of contracting COVID. At a time when health services are stretched thin, any necessary quarantine from a COVID infection will likely decrease income.  However, some motivated “Covidians” have found an alternative income stream with low risk for COVID infection.

 

Ourglass provides opportunities to make money safely and dependably.

With many businesses adapting their model to a work-from-home environment, there has been a rise in the popularity of video call and payment processing apps.  These apps are transforming an economic calamity into a financial opportunity for motivated people with skills to share. These creatives have managed to take a passion, hobby, or talent and create an income-generating business around it via video-call appointments, and subsequent payment by their clients through a separate payment app. Ourglass simplifies and improves this process by consolidating video and payment services into one app which results in more money, less hassle, and saving time. All walks of business appear to be jumping on the content provider wave.  From math tutors and guitar players to lawyers and therapists, Ourglass is increasing earnings and decreasing delinquent charges, undercharges, and awkward money conversations. For more insights in navigating through these tough times, check out  [ Washington Post: Small Business Tech Pandemic ].