when the technology dies

Anyone who uses technology on even a semi-regular basis has come to accept the fact that technology fails. In fact, we come to expect it; sometimes we’re even glib about it. “Oh yes, THAT is broken again. Not to worry. All I have to do is push this button, unplug this, push that button, and voila!”

Classes started yesterday and our online course server is barely functioning. It can take a minute just to bring up one page, if it comes up at all. I share this fact not to complain. In fact, I’m wondering about the effect this technology snafu has on online learners. How long will online learners stay devoted to an online class when the technology isn’t working appropriately? And are more experienced online learners more patient with delays in the technology?

As an online teacher, I know I’m already frustrated with the slow performance over the last couple of weeks. I needed to prep three online classes, and the time on the job seems to triple when the server runs slow (or not at all). At this point, I’m wishing I taught on campus. Well, not really. I love teaching online. But I am concerned about the students. I’m concerned about losing folks who really want to learn online but don’t have the patience to hang around until we get it all figured out. I’m also concerned about first-time online students who might jump ship and never return based on this one experience.

OK time for me to go! I just heard Blackboard is back online–I need to get while the getting is good!

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