Students Must Love Technology

January 13th, 2010
3 Comments (Now closed)

Tuesday, my mom, who was once a teacher, sarcastically stated, “your students must love technology.”

Tuesday, I didn’t feel well. Actually, I felt so bad I couldn’t stand up straight but I knew class needed to move forward. Due to snow, half of my courses were canceled the previous class meeting and I knew we couldn’t afford to fall further behind.

So what’s an educator to do?

I logged into my first course’s Basecamp space and wrote the students the following message:

Hi Everyone,

I’m not feeling well. I’m doing my best to feel better and make it into class, I’m not sure when I will make it in or if it won’t be until Professional Practices. It is important for me to attend Prof. Pract. since our client is coming in so I will be using the time until then to try to get better. Thank you in advance for understanding. Until that time follow the instructions below for Web Media 2. Review all of these instructions before starting and let me know if you have any questions. I will keep an eye out on my email during the beginning of class.

Break up into the following groups:

{I listed 5 groups with 3 student names in each group.}

Spend 30 minutes reviewing each group member’s 2 clever web banners. Have a meaningful discussion about each our your group members’ choices. Make sure everyone is given the opportunity to speak and to listen. Make it a discussion not a monologue. You do not need to only talk about your own banners: ask questions and talk with your group about their choices, too.

  • Was it difficult to find 2 clever, well-designed banners?
  • Where did you have the best success finding them? (What types of websites?)
  • Why did you choose these examples?
  • What makes the banners “clever”?
  • What design elements are working?
  • What design elements could be stronger?
  • What copy is working?
  • How could the copy be stronger?

Spend 20 minutes writing a blog post that includes the type of information that you’ve discussed with your group. The post should be at least 250-words and speak to your 2 banner examples and to the general information you discovered/realized during your group discussion. Post your writing and your images of your 2 banners. If you write about your group members’ banners include those images, as well.

Take a 20 minute break (really not a minute longer).

Spend 70 minutes (the remainder of class) working on the following tasks in the following order:

  1. Post your potential domain names on Basecamp.
  2. Read the Web Banner Tips article (ignore tip #10).
  3. Read the Optimizing Graphics article.
  4. Work on the Web in the Wild Banner project.


  1. Complete Web in the Wild banner.

Thank you again for understanding. Make sure to follow these instructions and take this seriously, pretend I am there, because I could show up at any time. Also, note that you want to use your studio time wisely as the completed Web in the Wild banner is due at the beginning of next class.


I used the message as a learning moment. Showing the students how to be accountable even when you are unable to follow through with your responsibilities. My Web Media 2 course and my Professional Practices (Prof. Pract.) course have mostly the same students in each course. In the message I demonstrated the importance of prioritizing responsibilities. I also made my expectations specific, clear, and the instructions easy to follow. This allowed my students to get a sense of the amount of planning I actually do. I keep my classes seemingly organic however there is a lot of very specific planning that allows my classes to seem free flowing. Students also were able to get a sense of the working world. These kind of situations happen all of the time. Instructions are often provided via email or through an online project management tool. Whenever possible, I treat my students as professionals, in return they act professionally.

I was able to rally and stand upright again and made it into class. When I walked into the classroom, all of my students were working. The room was quiet; one person was playing mellow music for the entire class (they often take turns being the DJ for the day); and, a few students were discussing the assignments.

A couple of factors helped our coursework stay on track:

  1. We’ve had a number of courses together. My students know that I’m serious and that expect them to follow instructions.
  2. My students generally they take their coursework seriously and want to get the most out of their courses. They’ve paid for their education and they want to take full advantage of their investment.
  3. My students know that I will do everything in my power to be in class. I don’t miss class unless I absolutely have to. I imagine they knew I would show up at an unexpected time with the expectation to find them working.
  4. Solid prepping and a great plan book. When I plan my class time, I break down the time into minutes. So I already knew what needed to happen and how much time each task should take. I was able to pass that information onto the students even though I felt so sick. Because I had preplanned I didn’t have to think about the nitty gritty details. I just had to relay them to my students using the technology I had available.
  5. Technology. If I was an educator before the Internet existed all I would be able to do is call into the office and ask the office manager to let my students know that I wouldn’t be in class and that class was canceled. The students wouldn’t have had the opportunity to learn the information they learned on Tuesday and we would have fallen behind in the course. At 7:19am I tweeted,

“Web Media 2 students please read your email/check Basecamp”

and they were able to read the message I had posted on Basecamp. I realized that I needed confirmation that at least one of my students had read the Basecamp message so I added the comment

“And someone in the class please post a comment letting me know you’ve received this info. Thank you.”

Shortly after, I receive a comment that just read, “Received.” Despite feeling so ill, the brevity of the response made me smile.

Technology has really altered the way information can be disseminated. It allows us to be more connected, which worked out well in this situation. Even though students enjoy days off, I have a feeling my students were happy they didn’t show up for an 8am class just to be sent home. They were able to accomplish a lot and we’re totally on track.

So it turns out that I’m human and sometimes life/illness gets in the way of what I really want/need to do, like be in the classroom with my students. It’s comforting to know that my students and I have a solid relationship; I can trust them to be responsible, they can trust me to use technology to ensure that their getting the most out of their education and from me.

My mom is most likely correct (99.9% of the time she is); my students probably have a love/hate relationship with technology. Bad news—there really are no days off from school because the professor isn’t feeling well anymore. Good news—there really are no days off from school because the professor isn’t feeling well anymore.

Categories UTC, Education, Teaching

Nevin Lyne says

Jan 13th, 2010 at 11:51 am

All I can say is, impressive. They should all make fine additions to the wilds of the work force after college!

Hope you are feeling better too. :)

Jeska says

Jan 21st, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Brilliant - thanks for sharing the story. I think we’re just starting to realize all of the ways technology impacts our everyday.