I taught my first face-to-face class in two years 3 weeks ago. It’s a late start ENG102 hybrid that meets once a week in LA108. I didn’t really want to teach the class face-to-face, but my chair said that admin would like us to have more on-campus classes this semester. “The data show that is what students want.” I saw the data and had a completely different interpretation, but I’m a team player, so I agreed to teach the class. It is one of the two classes I previously taught on campus in 2020, so the class was prepared and ready to go.
The first indication that things were going to be different is when I noticed I wasn’t teaching in my preferred space. Apparently, HT2 classrooms were not big enough to accommodate our class sizes (18). I was bummed but verified I’d have a Chromebook cart in my new teaching space. On the first day, I arrived about 15 minutes early just so I could familiarize myself with the technology in the classroom. I’d promised students I would do a live-online class so students who couldn’t make it to class for whatever reason could attend live from home. I also have the same course as an all online and thought it might be nice to offer the option to them. Turns out LA108 is a cave with no cell service. You might think that fact is not that important, but trust me it is.
I began by trying to log into the teacher station computer, which I haven’t had to do since Duo Two-Factor Authentication was introduced into our lives last year along with having better log-in passwords. I had found a loophole and was successful in using the same password for probably 3 years. I should be ashamed, but I wasn’t. I actually knew my password back in the day BC (Before Covid). Today, not so much. My souped-up 17 digit numbers and symbols are a solid password now. So I looked up my password on my phone using my LastPass app; I have offline access on my phone, and I typed it into the prompt on the computer at the teacher station. The computer went into some weird realm that took probably 5-6 minutes before it stopped and prompted me for a user name and password again. Again? I looked it up again and typed all the letters, symbols, and numbers again. After another ridiculous amount of time, you know what happened. No, it worked, but our new friend Duo popped up. I asked Duo to send me a text. She goes into spin mode waiting for me to complete the action on my phone. Nothing appears on my watch or phone. So I kindly ask Duo to send me another text. And then again. By this time I have about 5 students sitting in front of me watching. Duo never complies so I give up on that endeavor.
I thought to myself, I don’t need your crappy technology. I’ve got a backpack full of it sitting at my feet. We are about 10 minutes into class time at this point when I realized I needed to log into the WiFi on campus if anything was going to happen today – my first day back in the classroom after 2 years. That wasn’t going to happen, so Maricopa net or whatever the open wifi is called was it. Fifteen minutes into my first class, with 5 students sitting in front of me, and one single person online, I was finally ready to teach. I learned later that several students gave up on the online class when I wasn’t there to let them in. Bummer. But hey I was ready. I say to the students in front of me. Let me just “plug” my laptop into the teacher station and you’ll be able to see my screen. I had already started teaching but had no visual for them yet.
Let me ask you a question before I continue. Does anyone have one of these plugs on their computer anymore? Oh, never mind. The whole point of this post is to point out how I was done after day one. And I can’t say that the following week was any better. I had a whole new set of problems. I’m so out of practice with trying to use someone else’s technology that my heart is just not into teaching face to face anymore. It ruined my experience. Technology should enhance, not prohibit. Apparently, you need cell service in order to get Duo prompts or be logged in to wifi on a computer to get a password to log into the computer. Or you need to remember to put your dongle in your backpack so you can connect your fancy technology to the old school kind in the classroom. Or…(fill in the blank). It’s just too much to deal with. I need to stick with what I do best and tackling GCC technology ain’t it.
P.S. Thank you Caryn Bird for hiding whiteboard markers in the classroom because of course you have to bring your own low tech too.