7 Best Video Conferencing Software for Social Distancing (2020 Review)

7 Best Video Conferencing Software for Social Distancing (2020 Review)

Working from home and socializing through technology are a necessity these days. Whether you’re making the adjustment to remote work or social happy hours, video conferencing services are immensely helpful. That’s why we’ve gathered 7 of the best options available for organizing meetings with your coworkers or staying in touch with friends and family. 

Read on to learn more about the perks and parameters of each service. We’re here to help you stay connected. 

Best WFH Video Conferencing Software in 2020

1. Webex

webex video conferencing app

Webex is a leading video conferencing service from Cisco designed to help workers stay connected amid this broad shift to telecommuting.  

How Many People Can Join a Webex Call?

Webex allows 50 participants in its Starter tier, 100 participants in Plus, and up to 200 for Business level. The free version was also recently enhanced to allow up to 100 participants (up from 50). 

How Much Does Webex Cost?

Webex offers a formidable free version for personal use. Starter level for small teams costs $13.50 per host per month. Plus level costs $17.95 per host per month, and Business level costs $26.95 per host per month. 

How Do I Get a Webex Discount?

In addition to its upgraded free plan, Webex is offering the first month free on paid monthly plans and four months free on paid annual plans. Giving Assistant shoppers can also get an extra 30% off any new or renewed plan when shopping through our store page or with the Giving Assistant Button

2. GoToMeeting

gotomeeting

GoToMeeting is a streamlined solution for office teams to keep conferences going remotely. With three tiers of pricing/capabilities, the software offers solutions tailored to the scale of your organization. Team members can screen share seamlessly from web and mobile versions of the app.

How Many People Can Join a GoToMeeting Call?

150 participants can join a GoToMeeting call (from a phone, mobile or desktop app, or internet browser) at the Professional service tier, with the option for 5 dial out participants to join the live meeting. The Business tier accommodates 250 participants, and the Enterprise level allows up to 3,000. 

How Much Does GoToMeeting Cost?

GoToMeeting offers 3 pricing tiers. Professional level costs $12 (normally $14) per organizer per month. Business level costs $16 (normally $19) per organizer per month. Companies interested in Enterprise level service may call the sales team for a quote based on webinars, room solutions, and phone equipment. 

How Do I Get a GoToMeeting Discount?

Giving Assistant shoppers can get $20 off any GoToMeeting order, and earn other great deals from our store page. Install the Giving Assistant Button on your browser for the latest offers. 

3. Skype

skype video call

One of the original video calling services, Skype remains a modern mainstay for business meetings or keeping in touch with friends.

How Many People Can Join a Skype Call?

Up to 50 people can join a shared call via Skype or dial in from a landline or cell phone. Users can also screen share during calls. 

How Much Does Skype Cost?

Skype calls are free if everyone on the call uses the Skype service only. $2.99 per month grants up to 2,000 minutes of Skype calls extended via landline or cellphone within the US, with an extra 15 cents extra per additional minute. $6.99 grants users up to 2,000 minutes of phone-extended calls to all of North America, with a 35 cent surcharge per additional minute.

How Do I Get a Skype Discount?

Giving Assistant can access several discounts for phone-extended Skype calls, like this deal for 200 free minutes. Install the Giving Assistant Button on your browser for the latest offers. 

4. Google Hangouts

google hangouts

Google Hangouts is a streamlined video calling and conferencing service offered within Google’s G Suite of apps, available for anyone with a Google Account and in enhanced versions for paid users. The service allows simple screen sharing for enhanced co-working success.

How Many People Can Join a Google Hangouts Call?

The simple version of Hangouts supports up to 25 participants in a single call. G Suite paid Basic Hangouts Meet version supports 100 participants. Business level allows 150 participants, and Enterprise level allows 250 participants. 

How Much Does Google Hangouts Cost?

The simplest version of Hangouts for Google Account holders is free. Hangouts Meet Basic is included with Google’s G Suite Basic plan, which costs $6 per user per month. The Business plan costs $12 per user per month, and the Enterprise version costs $25 per user per month.

Tip: Want to be able to see everyone on the call at once? With this free “grid view” extension for Google Hangouts, you can! Try it out. (We really like it.)

5. Facebook Messenger 

facebook messenger

Facebook Messenger video calling is built directly into the texting app, accessed by clicking the video camera icon in the Messenger desktop browser or mobile app screen. Facebook also now offers a version of the app designed specifically for desktop use. The overall video call service allows screen sharing between compatible devices. 

How Many People Can Join a Facebook Messenger Call?

Messenger video calls accommodate up to 50 visitors, with a maximum of 6 people shown on-screen at once. During calls with more than 6 people, the main person speaking is shown on-screen to all callers. 

How Much Does Facebook Messenger Cost?

Facebook Messenger is free to use with a free Facebook account. 

6. Zoom

zoom

Zoom has been gaining popularity as a video conferencing service equally suitable for remote work, educational use, and social gatherings. Host meetings and webinars, work in collaborative digital conference rooms, send files, and screen share — all with relative ease. 

How Many People Can Join a Zoom Call?

The Basic version of Zoom supports up to 100 participants. Pro includes the 100-participant baseline with the option to expand to 500 or 1,000 participants. Business includes a baseline of 300 participants with the option to expand to 500 or 1000. Enterprise allows 500; Enterprise Plus supports 1,000. 

How Much Does Zoom Cost?

Zoom Basic is free, and participants don’t even need to sign up for a Zoom account to access a call (they can enter the call through a direct link from the host).

Zoom Pro costs $14.99 per month per host, Zoom Business costs $19.99 per month per host (starting at 10 hosts for $199.90 per month), Zoom Enterprise costs $19.99 per month per host (starting at 100 hosts for $1,999 per month). 

Tip:  This easy hack will let you use Zoom without downloading the app. Just paste the following URL into your browser, but replace the word MEETINGID with the meeting ID provided to by the host. Here’s that URL: https://zoom.us/wc/MEETINGID/join

7. Houseparty

houseparty video call

Houseparty is a new video hangout app that’s great for small groups of friends or family.

How Many People Can Join a Houseparty Call?

Houseparty allows up to 8 people to join a single “room,” but users can host multiple 8-guest parties at once and toggle between rooms. 

How Much Does Houseparty Cost?

Houseparty is free for iOS, Android, Mac, and Google Chrome users. In-app game purchases are available for $0.99 each. 

Shop to Give: How Your Video Conferencing Solution Can Help Nonprofits

While you figure out the best way to take your work and social life into the remote world, you can also make a difference for the nonprofit of your choice.

Cash back you save from shopping deals on some of these video conferencing services would be ideal for donating to organizations like Project HOPE. (Here are other nonprofits that directly support COVID-19 relief efforts.)

In these days of social distancing, supporting a cause you believe in is an excellent way to stay connected. 

Sign up for Giving Assistant and download the Giving Assistant Button so you can seamlessly turn your online shopping into charitable giving. Every contribution means another step forward through this dire and complex time.

Best Online Learning Sites for Skills and Courses (2020 Review)

Best Online Learning Sites for Skills and Courses (2020 Review)

Now more than ever, online learning sites are making it easier to pick up new skills, explore a career change, stay connected, get creative, and combat boredom through free classes and subscription-based video libraries.

Here’s a list of the best online education resources (based on their popularity and content) that we think will not only educate and entertain but also energize your spirit with a positive distraction:  

Best Online Education Platforms in 2020

1. Udemy

udemy home page

Udemy is the world’s largest online learning platform—one that supports 57,000 instructors and more than 50 million students taking 100,000+ online courses in over 65 languages.

It’s here you can spend the day learning how to brand a small business, play “Happy Birthday” on the guitar, write HTML code, train a puppy, and everything else in between.

What’s Included with Udemy?

  • From Rockabilly Guitar for Beginners to 14-Day Yoga Detox and Empowerment, a wide variety of online course themes are sure to keep you busy!
  • Lifetime access to free and paid courses on Udemy’s website and app.
  • Paid, approved courses offer a Certificate of Completion; there are plenty of excellent business-training and career development solutions that look good on a resume.
  • 30-day money-back guarantee for every course.

How Much Does Udemy Cost?

  • Udemy courses are individually priced and typically cost $10-$20.
  • Udemy Pro ($19.99/month) is their only subscription; it’s for students interested in IT certifications.

Udemy Discounts and Savings Tips

  • Keep an eye out for monthly sales that take up to 95% off hundreds of courses.
  • Find the best Udemy deals plus earn 15% cash back with Giving Assistant.
  • Take advantage of the 7-day free Udemy Pro trial

Recommended for: People who want the most options but don’t want to pay an arm and a leg.

2. LinkedIn Learning

linkedin learning home page

LinkedIn Learning is a relatively new resource. In 2015, the professional networking giant, LinkedIn, acquired the wildly-popular, online training site, Lynda.com.

With that acquisition came 25 years of online learning expertise and one of the largest collections of video courses dedicated to sharpening business-, creative-, and tech skills.

What’s Included with LinkedIn Learning?

  • 15,000+ expert-led courses categorized by subject, software, and learning path.
  • There’s no limit to the number of courses you can watch with a subscription; they add dozens of new subjects each week.
  • Get personalized course recommendations based on your current job and skills.
  • Receive a free Certificate of Completion upon watching a LinkedIn Learning course with a subscription; there is no limit to the number you can receive. Note: You can, however, receive only one certificate per course or learning path.

How Much Does LinkedIn Learning Cost?

  • $29.99 for a month-to-month subscription
  • $19.99 per month when you pay annually

Note: You can also buy individual courses (prices vary).

LinkedIn Learning Discounts and Savings Tips

  • Take advantage of the 1-month free trial 
  • Pay annually to save 33% off of your subscription and get $5 cash back when you purchase one through Giving Assistant.

Recommended for: Voracious learners who want to do more than just freshen up and strengthen their LinkedIn presence.

3. Coursera

coursera home page

Looking to change careers, qualify for higher-paying positions, or expand your mind?

Thanks to two Stanford computer science professors with a vision to increase access to the “world’s best education,” Coursera was founded in 2012.

This nonprofit collaborates with over 190 leading universities and companies (like Google and IBM) to provide online, skill- and career-building opportunities to anyone, anywhere.

What’s Included with Coursera?

  • Learn something new in 4-6 weeks; 4,100+ options include hundreds of free courses.
  • Add a specialization to your resume within 4-6 months, like Python or graphic design.
  • Pursue an online degree from a leading university and try your first course risk-free; if they admit you to the full program, your completed courses count towards the degree.
  • Exercise your mind with a challenging (and free!) college-level, non-credit course.

What Does Coursera Cost?

  • Monthly subscriptions for Specializations typically cost $49-$79/month. It takes an average of 3 months to complete a specialization.
  • Annual subscription for Coursera Plus costs $399 per year. There is no limit to course enrollment or Course Certificates you can earn; get a 14-day money-back guarantee.
  • One-time payments for courses and Specializations (prices vary).

Coursera Discounts and Savings Tips

  • Get the free 7-day premium membership trial
  • Sign up for a Premium Membership through Giving Assistant and earn 20% cash back.
  • Get 50% off a Premium Membership with a valid .edu address.
  • Select college-level courses are free

Recommended for: People who want the rare opportunity to attend a lecture from an Ivy League university (like Harvard or Stanford) without being enrolled at the school.

4. edX

edx home page

edX is a global, non-profit organization with an online learning platform founded by Harvard and MIT in 2012. This massive, open-source movement sees 20 million learners take classes with educators from the world’s highest-ranked universities and industry-leading corporations.

What’s Included with EdX?

  • A mix of career-advancing courses and self-paced “fun”: There are 2,500+ online courses from 140 institutions, ranging from MIT’s Circuits and Electronics to Wageningen University’s The Science of Beer and the Smithsonian Institution’s Star Trek: Inspiring Culture and Technology.
  • There are six different ways to advance your career, like the innovative MicroBachelors and MicroMasters programs, which break down barriers of time and money.
  • You don’t need a full degree to stay competitive in-demand fields; top tier companies validate the MicroMasters programs.
  • Invaluable support from university partners and peers from around the world.

How Much Does EdX Cost?

  • MicroBachelors programs cost $500-$1,500 (that’s about $166 per credit!).
  • It’s roughly $50 to $300 to acquire a Verified Certificate upon completion of free courses.

EdX Discounts and Savings Tips

  • MicroBachelors and MicroMasters programs are free to try
  • Take up to 20% off courses when you use edX coupon codes from Giving Assistant plus earn 12% cash back.

Recommended for: People in search of fun courses (learn Italian for free!), or who want to advance their career prospects, but don’t have the money or time to pursue a traditional degree.

5. Skillshare

skillshare home page

Get inspired. Advance your career. Gain valuable feedback.

Skillshare is an online learning community that builds new skills through thousands of free and paid classes for creative, curious (and bored) people. Experts teach these classes in fields such as fine art, business, lifestyle, productivity, and career development.

What’s Included with Skillshare?

  • The platform allows students to network and strengthens their skills through sharing perspectives and insights in supportive group settings.
  • A Premium Membership unlocks full access to over 20,000 classes, from a iPhone food photography tutorial to an evidence-based masterclass on how to study for exams.
  • Learn at your own pace and customize classes to fit around an ever-changing schedule.
  • It’s easy to share your expertise, create video lessons, and make money when students enroll in your classes.

What Does Skillshare Cost?

  • Monthly Skillshare Premium: $12/month billed monthly
  • Annual Skillshare Premium: $8/month ($96 billed yearly)

Skillshare Discounts and Savings Tips

Recommended for: Budget-savvy creatives seeking a mix of free and affordably-priced classes that center on building a community and providing constructive feedback.

6. Bluprint

bluprint.com home page

Take two minutes or two hours to learn something new.

Bluprint (formerly Craftsy) is an online creative learning platform that features an online library with over 1,300 classes, live events as well as exclusive perks, patterns, and techniques.

What’s Included with Bluprint?

  • World-class, expert creative instruction paired with downloadable craft patterns for any skill level—some of which are free!
  • It’s reasonably priced! Get an annual subscription for the price of a few solo classes.
  • Learn how to make a T-shirt quilt, knit a shawl, hip hop dance with tWitch from So You Think You Can Dance, paint pet portraits, and decorate a show-stopping birthday cake.
  • You are not required to sign up for a Bluprint subscription to browse the site or access your previously purchased classes.

How Much Does Bluprint Cost?

  • Monthly Plan ($7.99): Site access + 15% off bluprint.com fabric, yarn, and supplies.
  • Annual Plan ($79.99): Site access + 15% off bluprint.com supplies + free U.S. shipping.
  • Single classes in digital form, or as a DVD, generally cost from $25 to $100.

Bluprint Discounts and Savings Tips

  • Take advantage of their 7-day free trial
  • Right now, watch unlimited online classes for free until 4/16/2020; no credit card required.
  • The Annual Streaming Plan is now $39.99 + tax; price valid for first-year only. Ends 4/16.
  • Use one of our Bluprint coupon codes to save up to 40% on kits, supplies, and select classes through Giving Assistant.
  • Earn up to 4% cash back from bluprint.com

Recommended for: DIY crafters who like a one-stop-shop for creative classes and supplies that’s fun for the whole family.

7. CreativeLive

creative live home page

CreativeLive is an online learning platform that broadcasts live classes globally, from four in-house production studios within the company’s dual headquarters in Seattle and San Francisco.

What’s Included with CreativeLive?

  • Hundreds of expert instructors with access to projects and patterns for every skill level
  • Stream 1500+ top classes (with a subscription) anytime, anywhere, and on any device.
  • Browse an entire video library on-demand and get inspired; there are dozens of categories like Art, Music, Business, Creative Writing, Software, and Self-Improvement.
  • Exclusive new series released weekly.

How Much Does Creative Live Cost?

  • The most flexible option is the Monthly Pass ($39/month, billed monthly).
  • The most popular option is the Annual Pass (currently $149/year, billed annually)—less than $13 per month!

Note: Until 5/2020, the Annual Pass’s price reflects a 50% discount, and usually is $299/year. 

Creative Live Discounts and Savings Tips

Recommended for: People who don’t mind paying a little extra to take online classes taught by New York Times best-selling authors, wicked sharp entrepreneurs, and Oscar winners.

8. Creativebug

creative bug home page

Creativebug is an online learning community for DIY fanatics owned by one of the nation’s leading fabric and craft specialty retailer. In 2017, Jo-Ann Fabrics acquired Creativebug to revamp its brand. Today, the site sparks creativity with thousands of award-winning DIY craft videos, workshops, and downloadable patterns, templates, and recipes.

What’s Included with Creativebug?

  • Unlimited access to 1,000+ online art and craft classes, like How to Make a Custom Pencil Pouch and a Monogrammed Wreath project. New classes added every week.
  • Browse classes for all skill levels and interests taught by leading instructors who’ll walk you through creative projects from start to finish.
  • Creativebug classes never expire; watch at your own pace—anytime, anywhere.
  • A percentage of your subscription dollars go to support non-profits in art education.

How Much Does Creativebug Cost?

  • Unlimited: Pay $7.95 monthly to get unlimited access to thousands of ad-free classes.
  • Get exclusive JOANN discounts and keep 1 class per month to keep forever with Unlimited Plus subscriptions that cost $9.95 monthly (or $95.40 billed annually).

Creativebug Discounts and Savings Tips

  • Get everything for your next Creativebug DIY (save money by using Jo-Ann Fabrics coupon codes) to purchase supplies.
  • Special offer for teachers: Get a 3-month free trial plus three free classes to keep forever. After the free trial period ends, all-access is $4.95/month.
  • Take advantage of the 1-month free trial

Recommended for: Jo-Ann Fabrics loyalists (and beyond) who want exclusive savings on creative supplies on top of unlimited access to endless, online art and craft classes.

9. Kaplan IT Training

kaplanit training home page

Pass your exam the first time—or get your money back.

Tech jobs are at an all-time high, making skilled, certified IT professionals a sought-after asset.

Enter Kaplan IT Training (formerly Transcender). This online learning resource has prepared IT professionals (and educators) to meet the widened skill gap of a rapidly-evolving industry for over 25 years. It’s also the leading provider of IT certification practice exams.

What’s Included with Kaplan IT Training?

  • Become certified in the industry-standard IT solutions such as Cisco, Oracle, Java, Adobe, Amazon, and Microsoft—packages include 30-day or 180-day online access.
  • Kaplan IT Training exams consistently rank among the best in the industry.
  • The user-friendly website, Learning Management System (LMS), and eLearning and Practice Lab add-on products enhance an already smooth, exam preparation.
  • The Pass Guarantee: Purchase Kaplan’s 180-Day Exam Preparation study materials, and if you fail the corresponding vendor exam within 30 days of your access ending, return it for a full refund.

How Much Does Kaplan IT Training Cost?

There are two certification study package options with varying costs for vendor and career path:

  • The lowest price starts at $19 for the 30-Day Assessment (Online only) for the Adobe Photoshop certification. It’s $39 to purchase the 180-Day Exam Preparation (Online + Download) for the same certification.
  • 180-Day Exam Prep bundles for other vendors can cost up to $400.

Kaplan IT Training Discounts and Savings Tips

Recommended for: IT trainees and anyone with aspirations to advance in the following fields: web design, artificial intelligence, security, technical writing, and project management.

10. Intellipaat

intellipaat home page

Intellipaat is an online learning platform and professional certification company headquartered in Bangalore, India, that primarily caters to software developers, IT administrators, and other professional fields—from healthcare to early childhood education.

Intellipaat’s global, e-learning portal lets you learn at your own pace, offering 150+ courses through live instructor-led sessions, group learning experiences, and self-paced coursework.

What’s Included with Intellipaat?

  • Companies such as Sony, Amazon, and Cisco use Intellipaat to upskill their employees.
  • Affordable, flexible class hours that easily fit into your schedules.
  • You can complete some coursework in less than one hour.
  • You get lifetime support and lifetime access to videos, tutorials, course material, resume preparation, and job assistance.

What Does Intellipaat Cost?

E-training costs range from around $20 to $1,000, depending on the qualification.

Intellipaat Discounts and Savings Tips?

Recommended for: People who want to take their technical career to the next level.

11. Khan Academy

khan academy home page

Khan Academy is a non-profit that makes free, world-class education accessible to anyone, no matter where they are. The Academy’s library is packed with lessons and test prep in math, science, history, grammar, and more for K-12 and early college-level learners.

What’s Included with Khan Academy?

  • The site is totally free, and anyone can access it—from out-of-school programs and summer camps to correctional facilities.
  • Free tools for parents and teachers.
  • Resource translations in more than 36 languages; there are also Spanish, French, and Brazilian Portuguese versions of Khan Academy’s site.

Did you know that shopping through Giving Assistant for everyday items allows you to donate to Khan Academy a portion (or all) of the cash back you earn as a result?

Shop, Save & Donate with Online Learning Platforms

With extra time on your hands, now is the best time to learn something new.

And when you download our Giving Assistant browser extension, it’s even easier for you to save money at the same time you’re online learning and shopping. Spend the cash back you earn from shopping with us towards school supplies, crafts, and donations to your favorite non-profits.

Looking for a good place to shop? Check out these companies that support education.

We’ve also put together a list of nonprofits dedicated to COVID-19 Relief efforts. Your donation can make a difference!

Self-Chilled Wine Glass Review: Trendy & Convenient

Self-Chilled Wine Glass Review: Trendy & Convenient

Hosting a dinner party at your place can be loads of fun, but it can also mean hauling around clunky ice buckets and serving rather watery alcoholic drinks.

Sure, your friends will politely smile and say the wine is delicious, but what good is fancy wine if it’s gradually warming up and watering down?

Take the hassle, expense, and mess out of your parties by allowing a self-chilled wine glass, such as the Host Freeze Cooling Wine Glass, to stay perfectly cold and full of flavor for your (genuinely) delighted guests!

How Does the Self-Chilled Wine Glass Work?

No need to station cumbersome, unattractive coolers at your event. These glasses stay chilled for over an hour. Simply grab the freeze chilling glasses out of the freezer, deliver them to your guests, and let the party begin!

about self chilled wine glass

Key Attributes of the Self-Chilled Wine Glass:

  • Thermal cooling gel encased in tough acrylic
  • Insulated rubber grip
  • Holds at least 8.5 ounces of wine
  • Chills to as low as 6-11 degrees Celsius in the freezer
  • Chills to as low as 14-17 degrees Celsius in the refrigerator

Benefits of the Self-Chilled Wine Glass

1. Doesn’t shatter like glass

The self-chilled wine glass is perfect for both indoor and outdoor parties.

2. No more drinking watered-down alcohol

3. Save money and time

The cost of buckets of ice adds up, and who has time for all that set up?

4. Less mess

Ice melting in heavy buckets is a serious pain to clean up post-party.

5. No need for coasters

The self chilled wine glass can sit on most surfaces without a coaster – dining tables, buffet bars, or picnic areas! Never stress about careless guests leaving drink ring marks on your table tops again.

6. Rubber grip means no frosty fingers

Holding a freezing wine glass for hours can lead to very numb fingers! No more.

7. Made with BPA-Free plastic

BPA – a chemical found in plastics – can seep into food and drinks and has been linked to many health problems, including: breast cancer, obesity, prostate disease and cancer, miscarriage, and impairment of the immune system.

chilled wine glass outside

Use the Self-Chilled Wine Glass for Other Drinks, too!

You don’t have to limit the use of these nifty glasses to wine sipping. Try pouring beer, juice, tea, and water into them for long-lasting cold drinks.

This is a major plus for guests who don’t drink alcohol. They’ll fit right in with virgin cocktails in these thermal-insulated handheld coolers!

Potential Drawbacks

1. For large events, you’ll need several sets

2. Not ideal for parties lasting much longer than 1 hour

3. Require hand washing (can’t go in the dishwasher)

The Takeaway

When used properly for shorter and smaller events, the self-chilled wine glass is a trendy, convenient alternative to hefty buckets of ice and watered-down wine.

2 self chilled wine glass

Where to Find a Self-Chilled Wine Glass Set?

You can find the Host Freeze Cooling Wine Glass at Amazon.

Another wonderful choice is the brand Soiree Home. They have a Dimple Glass Self Chilling Glassware Set, available at Nordstrom.

Party on!