Saturday, April 2, 2011

Shoe on the other foot

    I’m taking an online course myself right now, and I’ve been experiencing technical difficulties.  For example, when I temporarily halted work on a series of exercises, all my earlier work disappeared. Total frustration. Do I have to do all that work again?  Arggh!

    This is helping me remember what it feels like to my students when they can’t get something to work right online.  Most of the time, their problems come because they forgot the format of their userid (is it last name first or last name last?) or forgot their password.  Or both.  This is a problem they can solve – either by persevering, asking a friend, asking me in class, or emailing me.  If they can't login, they can still do the work on paper and hand it in.

    But there have been occasions, especially when I have tried out something new, when things didn’t work out as intended.  Here is the student trying to do the work – and can’t.  And it’s my fault.   This has made me super careful to test new ideas using test-student accounts. 

    Then there’s good old human error; last month I forgot to make a new vocabulary module visible, so students couldn’t work on it.  Oops!

    So I try to be charitable when the technology has done my students dirt.  Either I forgive the assignment (something’s not working) or just extend deadlines.  My students seem to think that’s fair.


  1. One reason continuing ed is so important for us! And I've learned the hard way to approach new technology every which way before setting students loose, or suffer the consequences!

  2. I think there must be a Murphy's Law corollary. If you try a new technology, something WILL go wrong. ;)