A Day Without the Internet

1-Global-Internet-Crash-ShutdownI was prepared for the day.  I had my handouts copied.  I had my lesson book up on my screen to ensure I knew what classes I was teaching and when.  My online quiz was ready to access for my students to take.  I read my morning emails, downloaded the bulletin, and took my home room attendance.

Then the unthinkable happened.  Our access to the Internet crashed.

As my students filed into first period they were all abuzz with the fact that there was no Internet.  How would they cope?  How could they take their quiz that they had studied so hard for?  How would they be able to check Facebook at lunch? The horror of it all!

Much to the disappointment of my class, I had another project for them to start.  The quiz could wait until Monday.

At varying times during the period students opened their laptops and seemed to be surfing.

“Why is your laptop open Steve?” I asked.

“Um, I don’t know really.” Steve replied.

The Internet is a bit like a drug: the mindless surfing, the mindless sharing, the multitasking, and the multi-window conversations. Our hands need to touch the track pad. We need to click between windows. We need to not fully engage in anything for we might miss out on something!

My students survived. They were fully engaged in their project. They talked, laughed and discussed the Causes of World War I in ways I’ve never seen in previous classes.

Maybe it was just the group. Maybe it was the task. Or maybe for the first time in a long time, they weren’t distracted. The choice was made for them. And even if they had tried to sneak a peak…there was nothing to peak at.

What did I busy myself with? I wandered the room listening. I engaged them in small group discussion. I let them alone. I cleaned off my desk and filed away copies of tasks. I finally got those Geography 1 books covered.

But then my students were off to their next class. I sat in my classroom alone in the quiet. The tasks I wanted to do for planning…couldn’t do them without the Internet.   Couldn’t get caught up on the emails, the grade book, my student portal pages, attendance, or enter lessons for next week in my planner.

Oh no! My planner! I had no idea when my next class was going to be.  It is the beginning of the school year and I haven’t memorized my schedule yet.

I walked to the office to get a copy of my timetable.  Other teachers were wandering the halls with no certain destination.  They too were struggling with the clear mind space that can only be found with the absence of the Internet.

This situation has only happened once in the year I have been here.  Our systems here are so reliable that you really don’t need a plan B.  In other schools I have worked, breakdowns in the networks were a frequent occurrence.  But the exercise of living a day without the Internet Super Highway was a good one.   We need to be more mindful.  We need to create space within the day or week to be offline.

It is ok to set limits for students, and ourselves, when it comes to the time spent being online. It is ok to show our students, and ourselves that some tasks are really done better the old-fashioned way.

Instead of screaming at the IT people about the fact that you can’t do anything without the Internet, embrace the moment to be mindful and see what the empty space brings.

What do you do when the Internet goes down at your work place?

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9 replies

  1. I work at home, so no internet is a disaster… I can’t make money! At least you still get paid while ambling the corridors aimlessly 😉

    I have ranked short-term utility failings in this order (from least to most devastating):

    No hot water
    No water
    No internet
    No electricity
    [All of the above happen with frightful regularity]

    Bizarrely, though, during my first month in Spain, when I didn’t have internet, I was at my most productive, because I was working from cafes and the public library and I felt I had to make every (potential working) minute count 😉

      • Right now, with 37 degrees C, I wouldn’t mind too much if the boiler packed up. But no, that usually only happens in the midst of winter. I’ve had a few cold showers during the cold season… brrrrrrrrr! 😉

  2. The wireless internet at our school goes down at least twice a week. Since most of the teachers rely on wireless, this poses a problem. I usually check the wireless first thing in the morning so if it is down I can get it fixed before the actual start of the school day.

    • At my old school, if my students were working online on a project, the network always crashed with no place for them to save their work. Now at least we have Google Docs…it is saving all the time.

      Technology makes things so much easier, but so frustrating at times.

  3. I work at a web hosting company, using servers in data centers around the world but not here. If the Internet goes down here, There’s really not much I *can* do.

    Last time we had a power outage in this office, I just went to lunch early.

    • I remember in my last school there were stretches when some of the non-teaching staff went home to finish their work. I felt sorry for the counselors and secretaries. This is the time of year when they do a lot of data entry. Instead, they cleaned off desks, went through old files, etc. In the end, they too were glad they had time to get to the stuff they never get to.

  4. Wow. Having never had the internet when I was at school and no experience in schools since, I totally struggle to imagine how hard it must makes things when it goes down. I hadn’t even thought about it, but suppose it’s relied upon in practically every area of running and taking part in school. I imagine a day of classes now would be a totally alien experience for me!! 🙂

    • It really depends on the day. Our school is a 1 to 1 laptop school, but I don’t always have them using their laptops. As with anything else, you have to be flexible….best laid plans and all go astray.

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