What’s your plan B in teaching when the technology is completely broken?


In one of my Graduate Teaching Scholar (GTS) weekly meeting, someone came up with this question: What’s your plan B in teaching when the technology is completely broken? When the computer doesn’t run and the projector doesn’t function? I have to admit I never thought about this question before. I heard people talking about plan B in teaching, but I never link it with complete technology malfunction. If it’s just a computer problem, maybe I can borrow a spare one from my TA. If it is just the projector problem, I can still proceed when students sharing and looking at the PPT from their computer screens— though not as efficient as before, at least it works. But when there is a complete system broken down, honestly, I don’t have a plan B.

The way I design my teaching is so integrated with technology that it would be a disaster if technology is completed teased out from the classroom. The same is true for our lives. Technology has penetrated into all aspect of our daily lives. It is hard for me to envision what life would be without technology. Yes, I am a centaurs. I use Google Maps every time when I go to new places (sometime I still need it to go to Christiansburg). I looked up in Yelps to find interesting restaurant while in new places like New York or DC. I have TED app in my smart phone so I can listen to TED talks while walking or waiting for the bus.

In my perception, technology is a place where we can outsource part of human workload to. I am more convinced with this belief as the reading of this week continues. Machine and man can collaborate in the optimal senesce that both worked in their comparative advantages (like the man-machine team in chess game). Computers are good at storing, searching and computing information, while human brain are unique in terms of analyzing and adjusting based on intuition and insight. The development of technology makes technology more capable on what original done by human. By outsourcing these tasks to machine, it leaves man with more energy (cognitive resources) to explore other unknown fields.

Ok, back to the previous question, what will you do when there is complete technology break down in your class, instead of calling it a day?