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Pandemic Ed: What If the Wireless Is Out?

August 11, 2020

Interesting situation today.

I have been creating assignments suited to online learning, which basically means that I have to rethink my teaching and create an entirely new, pandemic-adjusted, English IV course. I am trying to get a number of such assignments ready to go prior to my return to school on August 20, 2020. Since students are not slated to return until September 08, 2020, I will have theoretically have some time to work on this online-based curriculum for some weeks prior to hving students. However, I am not sure what to expect between August 20 and September 08, so I do not want to count on having that time to work on assignments.

Today, I decided that it flexible due dates will have to be the “new normal.”

My phone line was dead, which meant I had no internet in my home.

This is the third time such has happened in the past year, but it is the first time since the pandemic hit.

I can’t just walk into Starbucks and settle in for several hours. Needless to say, now, it’s much more complicated.

I drove to a Starbucks near me, and I planned to sit in my car and tap into their wireless. Nope. Even though Starbucks is allowing customers to enter the store to purchase coffee, apparently, they have shut off their wireless (likely in an effort to discourage congregating in their shops).

So, I tried a nearby McDonalds. It worked, sort of. I was able to access the free wireless from my car (and I am glad to have a car to safely sit in because it started raining), but I could not access my school email because my browser did not like McDonalds’ unsecured wireless, and I could not reply to email from my personal account for the same reason, but I could access my Google Classroom assignments and work on them.

It was hard to position myself to work on my laptop in my car, but I did so for about an hour and a half. I am glad I was able to intermittently run my car’s AC (despite the previous rain shower, it was really hot).

I thought about how difficult it would be for one of my students to manage completing my assignments under such conditions, especially if the student had no car.

I also thought about how much more complicated the issue would have been for me if I were trying to conduct class online from my home under order of quarantine. How could I let my students know that I had no internet at my house and that that is why they could not reach me (or I them)?

When I reported the outage to ATT (using my cell phone, which was charged and working), I was told that the problem would be fixed by 7 p.m. the next day.

An eternity given the amount of work I need to do for my class.

I saw a tech working outside on the line, and he said that about 10 residences lost phone usage because the equipment “is about a hundred years old.”

Again I thought of my students.

After my hour-and-a-half McDonalds parking lot stint, I took a break. Later that afternoon, with phone still dead (I checked), I decided to try my gym, which has wireless.

Now, pre-COVID, my gym would have been a go-to place for Plan B wireless, for it has numerous comfortable seating areas. However, the problem now is that I did not know if I could socially distance from others (who would socially distance from me and keep their masks on). As it turns out, in late afternoon, relatively few people were on the premises, and I was able to find a space and to work (masked) for a couple of hours.

And my computer did not block any website access using the gym’s wireless as it did using McDonalds’ wireless.

I thought about returning to the gym (which closes at 9 p.m.) for more wireless time after dinner– an inconvenient prospect, but one must work with what one has.

Yet again, I thought of my students and the difficulty of finishing assignments before wireless access shuts down at close of business.

However, by dinnertime, ATT had fixed the problem, so I did not have to return to my gym for after-dinner wireless access.

Even so, flexible assignment due dates, definitely.

Definitely, definitely.



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  1. Alan J. Singer permalink

    Really good one! Thanks.

    Alan Singer, Director, Secondary Education Social Studies Teaching Learning Technology 290 Hagedorn Hall / 119 Hofstra University / Hempstead, NY 11549 (P) 516-463-5853 (F) 516-463-6196

    Follow Alan on Twitter:

    Blogs, tweets, essays, interviews, and e-blasts present my views and not those of Hofstra University. To unsubscribe, reply UNSUBSCRIBE in subject.



  2. Laura H.Chapman permalink

    Another detailed account about the assumptions many people make and how wrong they can be about “opening up” for face-to-face or online learning. Thank you.

  3. Candyce Watsey permalink

    As always I find your dedication to your students to be inspiring!

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