October 28 Day 234: Flummoxed

For the second time this week, my Wi-Fi has let me down. During my second afternoon class, my iPad was incapable of connecting to my Zoom meeting. I tried everything I could think of.

  • Screen sharing the iPad through the laptop directly;
  • Having the iPad join the Zoom meeting as a guest user;
  • Connecting the iPad to the collaborative whiteboard Limnu (while sharing the Limnu screen through Zoom so that the board work would be recorded);

In each case, the “working” icon whirled but nothing loaded. It really put me off my game and it was impossible to recapture everyone’s attention (including my own).

Was it the time of day? Why would something that worked 30 minutes earlier cease working? Was it the traffic load on the network in the neighborhood? It cannot be the network demand within the house as I was the only person here this afternoon. In the past I chalked-up slow or poor connections to sons hogging bandwidth by playing video games or working with a seven year old computer. None of those excuses were available to me today. I have a brand new computer hardwired to the router with cat5e line. We have the highest bandwidth available in Tacoma and I have a wireless signal booster outside my office door.

I could have reset the router. I worried that if I left the zoom meeting, others would take the opportunity to leave and not return. In retrospect, I should have assigned the next few examples for small group work, let my very capable embedded tutor wander the breakout rooms answering questions, and reset the router. But I wasn’t thinking that clearly.

Instead, I improvised. I shared the collaborative whiteboard through my laptop and wrote using MY MOUSE!

It was not ideal and definitely not pretty. But we got through it. When the planned breakout room activity arrived, I spent some time doing a hard reset of the iPad. That allowed me to share through the laptop but the lag between writing on my small screen and seeing the annotations in the meeting was quite noticeable.

The experience gives me pause. If I am this flummoxed by internet troubles to the point that it is affecting the delivery of my course, how are my students who do not have access to similar resources faring?

If anyone out there has an inkling of what might be going on and how to prevent this problem in the future, I would appreciate advice. I want to avoid further frustration if at all possible—for me and my students.

Published by Jenny Quinn

Mathematician. Mother. Wife. Leader. I am a professor of mathematics at the University of Washington Tacoma. Mother of Anson and Zachary. Wife to Mark. President of the Mathematical Association of America.

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