Coping with flaky technology

Blogger Alan Levine recently commented on the problems of social media and web applications letting you down just when you need them. In Don’t Cry When Social Media Flops, Just Move On he talked about what happens when the tool you use goes down, particularly in the context of conferences and presentations.

This is something I’ve been very familiar with since my earliest days presenting about computers for learning in the early 1980s. There were the 30 blue chip CEOs to whom I was supposed to introduce online information services – but the server went down all day – we just had to cancel the event and no doubt they were unimpressed enough with online services that they forgot about them for another few years (and maybe just as well!). I once faced 300 academics with a faulty computer and projector and had to present my wonderful and innovative online courses using phrases such as “If you could see the screen, you would see that…”

And I had to sympathise with the teachers who would not use my creative and effective online literacy tool in their classrooms because of the consequences of the technology letting them down. A planned lesson ruined – over 30 children milling around while the teacher fixes the technology – it isn’t really on!

Twitter is one service that has been criticised a lot for being flaky and unavailable. Rob Cottingham’s cartoons are some of the funniest responses.

However – things have mostly changed since the early days and we have moved on with technology. Over the years I have learned to cope with the vagaries of the equipment and am glad that nowadays the technology is very much more stable than 25 years ago when I started online. However, for businesses that are relying on cloud computing, or tutors who teach courses using third-party applications, this issue is one to consider very carefully when choosing the software and applications to use.

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