Ease the Uncertainty & Build Community.
A personal situation this week with regard to technology, lead me to review the article in our reading “Technology’s Impact on E-learning“. In this article, Hoffman stresses the need for preparation, mastery of the technology and keeping it simple in regard to unnecessary “bells and whistles”. What was not addressed is a plan to cover the inevitable ‘what if’ scenario. What if the internet goes down?
I am a firm believer in a backup plan, for most everything. It’s probably a result of preferring to be ultra-organized, and the comfort level that this organization provides. This week I did not have a backup plan for class without an internet connection! Yeah, talk about an OMG moment! This circumstance, lead me to a closer review our reading, when I got connected, of course. I found Hoffman did not address this particular aspect of technology and how to handle the issue in our online teaching. I thought I might offer some valuable tips of my own.
As part of your initial Course Introduction and Welcome page, and/or your Syllabus, offer an emergency contact number or email and recommend steps to take in the event that you cannot connect to your online course. Also I would highly recommend that students have at least thought about what they might do in this situation. The instruction might resemble the following:
What to do if you lose your internet connection:
- Don’t panic! Anxiety just adds to the stress and prevents you from thinking clearly and determining a logical plan of action
- Ask for help from a technical expert. They will be able to determine if the situation is temporary or more long term.
- Contact your instructor as soon as possible to inform them of your difficulty. Email or a post in the personal discussion board can be accomplished with a smartphone connection. Yes you will use data , but this is good use of your minutes. They need to know you have a legitimate excuse for not being ‘present’ on line.
- Have a backup plan. Chances are the entire universe in not without the internet for a prolonged period of time. Contact friends or other family members to see if you can connect at their location, and/or use their equipment. If you have a mobile device, tablet or laptop, relocate yourself to take advantage of that connection.
The key is to have a plan that you can quickly put into place, allowing for as little disruption to class as possible. Be sure to communicate your plan to your instructor.
This may seem obvious to many of us, but covering all the bases for a young or new online learner, can potentially alleviate that sense isolation that may be present in the online environment. It can also build teacher presence and improve your online community.
Hoffman, J. (2003, December 1). Technology’s Impact on E-Learning. WebJunction. Retrieved October 25, 2014.