In the official announcement post, Discord said it has “become a place for study groups, karaoke nights, plant parenting advice, learning about cryptocurrencies and simply a place to talk and hang out with your people whoever they are.”
They also released a follow-up post on May 13 reiterating the reasons for the rebranding. It is clear that Discord has been paying attention to how its user base has grown and evolved throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. As more users have been utilizing the platform than ever before, Discord’s statements demonstrate they are listening to feedback.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2019, Discord’s revenue was estimated at $45 million. People on stay-at-home orders utilized Discord for study groups, work project teams or just as a new way to stay connected with friends. Discord is estimated to have pulled in $130 million in revenue in 2020.
So what exactly is Discord, and how can it be utilized to stay connected with friends or make new ones?
Discord is a free-to-use, voice-over-internet-protocol platform. It is a messaging tool that allows users to send and receive messages, voice and video chat, and stream screens, gaming and other media. It is very similar to Zoom, which Orange Coast College students are already familiar with due to remote learning.
So, why is the app worth downloading and what sets it apart?
Discord uses a chat server system instead of a scheduled meeting system, meaning that once a user is invited into a server, they are free to use any of the text chat, audio or video features at any time so long as the server administrators allow it. Messages do not disappear and there is no need to wait for a scheduled meeting or someone to admit you into a voice or video call. People can just hop onto the voice and video calls at any time. More active servers will have people on calls throughout the day. The most interesting feature is that Discord divides the text chat into subchannels. Servers can have multiple channels, such as “general chat,” “school-related,” “memes,” or “video games.” All of these subchannels help organize the clutter of endless conversations that might be found on other social media apps. If users within a server are interested in subtopics, they can utilize the subchannels to discuss their interests.
Discord also has advanced privacy settings that are customizable to easily hide one’s information or server information from the public. Discord also has multiple bot programs to help run and organize servers for its users, with features like playing music and games.
Users can create their own server or join public servers based on similar interests. There are even websites dedicated to displaying public server information to give you a range of options to choose from with invite links attached.
Discord’s format is beginner friendly and offers many tips from new users and new server owners. It is also free to download and use. It is available for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Linux. It can even be used in-browser only and does not require a download. The browser version is a lighter version and has some limitations to customization.
Discord Nitro is the paid upgrade which unlocks more customizable features like animated gifs and HD video streaming, but is not necessary to utilize all the basic features of the app.
Users can stream their screen and broadcast connecting games or other media.
Some OCC students have already begun using Discord for their online learning.
“I just took a class that was 100% held on Discord. In my opinion, it’s pretty useful,” OCC sophomore Dustin Pham said.
“Since it isn’t the most formal format, people who are more used to Discord are a lot more comfortable with using it, and then become more comfortable interacting with classmates,” Pham said.
What other options are there similar to Discord?
There are many other options comparable to Discord like Telegram, Element, and Slack but ultimately what works best depends on the type of server needed. Some are more suited for businesses, file transferring, or easier audio and video recording features.
What are some group activities that can be planned?
Friends and classmates can watch movies and shows together with browser extensions.
Teleparty, formerly Netflix Party, is a free browser extension that allows users to host a viewing party for up to 50 participants. The viewing party also features a chat box so users can converse through text during the viewing. Each user would need to have their own Netflix, Hulu or HBO account, but are synced with the chat host so that everyone can watch the same content at the same time.
Create a study group
Students can suggest making a chat server per class and form study groups. It’s also a way to connect to their peers and begin networking. Be sure to check that your professor allows for peer-to-peer communication before creating a server.
OCC film and television major Kennedi Armstrong believes Discord should be utilized for more class learning and study groups.
“Sometimes it can be intimidating or inconvenient to ask a teacher something when you could send out a message to your whole class and get an answer or opinion immediately,” said Armstrong said. “It’s nice to know that everyone else also hasn’t started a 15- page script that’s due next week.”
OCC Film and Television major Cynthia Tran prefers making a Discord server when exchanging contact information with classmates.
“When an instructor suggests making a study group, the first thing that comes into my mind is Discord,” Tran said.
Tran is a member of several Discord groups made from different current and past OCC classes.
Create a workout group
If you feel brave enough to work out on camera, create a workout session with your friends and family. You can utilize Spotify’s Group Session feature and create a workout playlist everyone can enjoy while getting exercise in.
Create themed channels or days
Use channels or create themed days like Selfie Sunday, Selfcare Saturday, or simply share memes.
Create themed dress up or activity days like “dress as your Hogwarts house day”, “show your pet day,” or “Bob Ross painting party day” and make video chats more fun.
OCC announced on April 30 that it would remain mostly online for fall 2021. Utilizing online social platforms can help fill a lack of in-person social interactions for some.