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Navigating the digital classroom... without power

Updated: Nov 11, 2020

Kyra Garabedin

Graphics Editor

This morning I woke up to a quiet house with no power or internet. Living in a very rural area, I am no stranger to losing our power after a minor wind storm, and it usually doesn’t limit the productivity of my day. Sure there might be some minor inconveniences like not being able to do my hair or make toast for breakfast, but as soon as I get to campus my troubles disappear. However, this semester the loss of power and internet looks a bit different than minor difficulties did in the past.

My first thought when discovering the power outage was panic over how I would attend my online class in an hour. I panicked as I picked up my phone and realized it had less than half battery from not charging during the night. I quickly sent an email to my professor explaining the situation, then rummaged through my drawers to find a portable charger. My professor ended up asking me to try my best with launching Zoom over my phone for our three hour class period. How could my little portable possibly last that long?

Attending Zoom meetings from your phone is definitely an available option. However, no matter how strong your phone service may be, a strong Internet connection still works best. Unfortunately I had neither strong phone service or any Internet at all. I knew it was going to be a long and difficult class trying to have a stable connection.

Although I was able to power my phone enough to make it through class, it was stressful and I was the only student experiencing the issue. I constantly had technical glitches and didn’t have access to any of my notes or documents that were on my computer. I made the best out of the situation, but was it really worth all the frustration?

After class ended, I began to think about what this means going forward. Rhode Island experiences very unexpected weather that can leave students without power in their homes. Especially with Rhode Island College being primarily remote this semester, students are spread out more than ever. There are students taking online classes who aren’t in RI this semester at all.

It is nearly impossible to expect students will have alternative options such as using their phone for Zoom, especially when a strong internet connection is required. The question remains, is not having power in your house a valid excuse for not being able to attend virtual class? In my experience my professor asked that I make every effort to attend class or have a makeup meeting with her when my power came back on.

It’s no surprise that as we go through this semester we find more issues that cause us to rethink what protocols and plans we have in place. The issue of students losing power at home and not being able to attend class is something colleges have never thought about until now. Keeping in mind that there may be situations where some students are without power for multiple days, it is imperative that some sort of plan is in place to help students attend their classes and make deadlines.

All I can tell you is take a breath and remember our professors are on our side. They too are experiencing the same problems we are, and they will most likely be patient with us. Hopefully, before the weather becomes too extreme RIC will provide us with guidance on what to do when we lose power at home.


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