China’s tech giant Alibaba officially introduced its overseas multi-lingual supported version of DingTalk on April 8, making functions like simultaneous video-conferencing with 300 people, live-broadcasts, and basic one-to-one text communications free to users worldwide amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
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After completing a two-week-long test in Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and other countries and regions, DingTalk Lite is now available for download on various app stores. It is reported that DingTalk Lite is designed to suit the habits and demands of overseas users. They can login to the platform via e-mail through multiple operating systems such as iOS, Mac, Windows, and Android.
DingTalk, an intelligent working platform backed by Alibaba Group to support enterprises in achieving higher working and management efficiency with the new digitalized working method, saw a surge in daily users as working and studying from home became mainstream in the quarantined world hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is estimated that some 10 million enterprises in China have used DingTalk for remote work, and over 120 million students across China attended online classes through DingTalk during the virus outbreak. DingTalk is also among the first batch of 60 distance learning solutions recommended by UNESCO to minimize the contagion.
“With rising demands for remote working and distance learning due to the coronavirus outbreak, we hope to leverage our leading technology to support businesses and schools to maintain operations as much as possible,” said DingTalk CTO Hugo Zhu.
As the COVID-19 situation intensified in Japan, several companies and schools turned to this Chinese office software for online communication and information transformation. The principal of Tokyo COSMO School, Tetsuya Matsuka, said that DingTalk made long-distance teaching possible at any time based on needs, and more than 300 students can attend classes from home.
Earlier in February, DingTalk topped the download ranking in the Apple App Store, surpassing the widely-used social media platform WeChat, as more than 50 million students used Dingtalk for China’s gigantic online learning experiment on the first day back to school.
While DingTalk maintained a strong presence of this digital transformation in education, it drew mounting boycotts and received millions of one-star reviews from students. Its official account on Bilibili posted a video titled DingTalk, Begging for Mercy Online, to ask for “sympathy.”
The relationship of DingTalk and its users has long walked a fine line, as many employees using this platform complained it would cement the 996 working hour system and blur the line between work and private life.
Amidst the global pandemic, DingTalk gained credit for its help to resume work and education while containing the spread of the virus through virtual communication. As for its future implication and growth, whether or not it should become the new normal in people’s daily lives needs more debate and consideration.