The day(s) the internet went down!

We are often asked what impact technology and going 1:1 has on  our school. Each teaching staff members has a laptop and students from years 5 to 12 have netbooks. There is a bank of netbooks for grade prep to year 4 to use and borrow.

All teaching staff members use their laptops for:-

  1. Emails:- Most communication from leadership and administration   is through email.
  2. Student reports: Student reports are completed electronically, using Markbook.
  3. Attendance records: The daily student attendance records are marked electronically by form teachers.
  4.  Online research
Others use the more immersive technologies – blogging, wikis, global projects, videoconferencing, virtual classrooms etc.
On Wednesday and Thursday our internet went down – not just for an hour or so but for two days. It was then, it became quite obvious how much we all relied on this access how much part of our teaching and learning lives it had become.

Here are some comments heard:-

  1. ‘internet access is part of our teaching life!” It makes our classrooms come alive and brings reality to what students learn.
  2. “Do we shut the school down.” Guess it is not as serious as the toilets not working, or our water being contaminate but it is nearly…..
  3. Say a prayer, that we get it back on! Remember the good old days when we had computers and thought they were great….. .now they are nothing without the internet.
  4. “Feels just  like when the power has gone off.”
  5. We are isolated and guess that is why we use the internet as we do – for networking, sharing, learning, resources etc.
Impact on teaching and classes
  • The home economics teacher was not able to get her students to look up the cuts of meat online, they had to go back to the ‘boring textbooks’ to look it up.
  • The science teacher had a youtube video lined up to show the students studying geology the recent tsunami in Japan.
  • The PE teacher relies heavily on the internet to help him  plan his lessons.
  • The music teacher had choir rehearsal with a youtube video lined up to provide the words, background music etc
  • The IT classes just did not function!
  • ….and the computer technicians? – They locked the door so we could not constantly badger and annoy them.
What did we do?
  • Butchers paper, pencil cases and paper came out again.
  • Staff looked for people to have a chat to.
  • Some actually read the hard copy of the newspapers.
  • Some decided to clean up their desks
  • Started yard duty early as there were no other distractions!
  •  But most of the time we grizzled and groaned @ and 2.0 everyone who would listen!
The problem was a harware issue that was difficult to detect. Finally we are back online and it is “Back to the Future!”


One response to “The day(s) the internet went down!

  1. Anne,
    It all boils down to…the basis of what we do: good old fashioned teaching. Could our reliance on technology be considered a co-dependency? Is our reliance on electricity taking away our powers of critical thinking? These have been big questions for me living in Mexico…and being the only teacher I know of who religiously uses technology where I work.

    I presently work in the state university, where I am one of the few teachers who actually use Internet. My students have a steep learning curve at the beginning of my classes to learn the class blog system; but afterwards, they feel supported and always know where to find assignments, guidelines or ask questions.
    In one or two of my classes I am very dependent on my computer to supply videos, access my lesson plans, and provide visual support for the learning process. However, I have had to confront teaching without Internet on many days, and thus have downloaded everything I need to my computer. I always make sure that the computer battery is charged.

    For most of my life here in Mexico learning/teaching has happened without Internet. It is scary to see just how dependent I have become and how I have forgotten about other resources…specifically myself!

    A story: A private university I used to work at was also very dependent on Internet: for attendance (during the first 10 minutes of each class) daily effort grades, Blackboard activities and readings were posted online everyday. This school still feels very secure about being the Vanguard about its technological teaching…until one day when I was arriving to school at 6:50 am, I heard a big explosion; and the lights went out. It was still dark outside (February here, our winter).

    Class started at 7, so I walked almost blindly to my classroom where my students were waiting outside the door: they couldn’t swipe their ID cards to get in. I let them in with the old-fashioned key and it was even darker than the hallway. We couldn’t work with textbooks for another 30 minutes, too dark, we couldn’t work with Internet, but here we were, 20 ‘adults’ (over age 18) with the students acting like kids!

    Other teachers let their students out to mill around and complain, it was goof off time. These poor souls couldn’t confront their students without their ‘armament’ and even sent them home, what happened to the teaching and caring of students?

    Until it was light out at 7:30, my class got over the fact that I wasn’t going to let them out, and spent a pleasant morning making up stories about what had happened, turning them into ghost stories. We finished with a bonding round robin storytelling session, in which we finished and published our story for the next day on Blackboard for homework.

    What is happening to us? Are we losing our ability to connect with our critical side? Have we fallen into the trap? I love technology, but I always have to have something else up my sleeve: debate topics about things we feel strongly about, games, thought-provoking brainstorming for future projects…have we lost that?

    Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. For me, first comes developing the thinking, then comes the process of how we interact, with or without technology. By the way, our electrical power went because a tlacuache (a raccoon-sized Mexican native mammal) crawled into the transformer box and blew the box to smithereens.

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