As I said in my article about an interactive whiteboard not working, teachers and trainers should lead by example. I get really frustrated when I am in a training session and the presenter or trainer is faffing about plugging things in, fiddling with leads, sorting out their presentation or whatever. It’s unprofessional, and it’s even more annoying if we’re paying this person a load of money. They should have sorted it all out in advance.
By the same token, I also start huffing and puffing when the session is due to start, and ther trainer says, “I’ll just give people a few more minutes to arrive.”
Why? We’re here, and we managed to get here on time. Surely the people who are present are more important than the people who are absent?
Yes, I admit it: my attitude is somewhat uncompromising. It can be summed up as: my time is valuable, so stop wasting it.
Therefore, you can imagine how mortified I was when this happened:
I was teaching the ICT/Computing class on a teacher training course (the Post-Graduate Certificate of Education, or PGCE). I explained a few things, and then said, “Now, if you go to this page on my website, you’ll find all the resources you need for this piece of work. Here’s the URL, and now I’ll click on it so you can see what it looks like.”
What it “looked like” was a big notice in a large red font stating:
This website has been deactivated because of security concerns.
Fortunately, being completely paranoid, together with a dread of letting a class down, I’d printed off all the resources. I handed them out, and then phoned my ISP, which at the time was pretty much a one man band.
“What’s going on?” I said.
He didn’t know either. He called me back later to tell me that the company who ran the server on which the website was hosted had detected that I hadn’t installed an upgrade to one of the programs on the site -- an upgrade I had no knowledge of.
“Surely they could have given me some warning?”, I said. “Apart from the fact that it could have ruined my lesson, it was highly embarrassing.”
I spent a couple of ours that evening installing and testing the upgrade.
Here’s what I learnt from this experience:
No matter how well prepared you are, something unexpected can go wrong. This is a fact of life, especially where technology is involved. That’s why it’s essential to have a Plan B. In this case, it was the printed resources.
I should have preferred to have used the institution’s own VLE for storing my resources, because then if something had gone wrong someone could have sorted it out, possibly immediately. However, I have a vague recollection that gaining access to it wasn’t straightforward for some reason, but I may be misremembering. But that’s the option I’d recommend, with your own website as a backup, just in case.
Don’t use a one man band for your website if your website is, in effect, the shop front for, and showcase of, your business.