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Internet Woes

Yesterday was a bad day on the Internet. My connection went down in the middle of the day and stayed that way for about an hour. It's been doing that, off and on, for some time now. You can imagine the result: no email (thank goodness!), no Facebook (a plus for my productivity), and no searching the Internet for cool items like that logo above. 

The real problem, though, was that some applications (like Microsoft Word) wouldn't open because they need to verify with headquarters that they are not pirate copies. (OK—I know that I could use a copy on a phone because it can get Internet even if the local WiFi is down. But have you ever tried editing a large piece of writing on a smartphone?)

Well that just threw a wrench into my machinery.

We might have similar problems when school opens because EVERYONE on campus is trying to use the same electronic resources at the same time. (And some of you who live in rural areas with your parents never did have good Internet.) So here are my recommendations.


I think a paper copy of America Now and Writer's Reference will serve you better than electronic ebooks in the long run. Chances are excellent that you will use Writer's Reference throughout English 101 and 102, so a one-semester access deal might end up costing you more. Chances are also excellent that you will use America Now in 101.

Word Processing

You should plan on doing most of your rough drafting with paper and pen anyhow. You learn more, and it's more natural. When it comes time to type things up, you might consider using Google Docs offline if your Internet gives you a lot of trouble.

Advantages to Google Docs offline:

  • It's free.
  • It's easy to use and works with any computer.
  • When the Internet is down, you can keep working.


  • The spelling and grammar checkers are not very good.
  • The initial setup is tricky.
  • You have to decide that a document will be available offline before trouble hits. It's not automatic. 
  • You must go through an extra (not too difficult) step to prepare your document for submission through Blackboard.

In any case, you should have a paper printed copy of the assignments you are writing because you never know when the Internet is going down.


If the Internet is still going but Blackboard isn't, you have a fall-back. I've posted the syllabus (including the reading and writing assignments) and the major paper assignments on this alternate website. It's a different system, so Blackboard glitches don't affect it.

If Blackboard refuses to cooperate when you need to submit a paper, send it as an email attachment to (Microsoft Word docx format, please)

Those short grammar quizzes remain open for a while after the due date, so if Blackboard is giving you trouble, you have a bit of time.

Other stuff

I find Zoom awkward and many people's equipment can't handle it too well, so I'm not planning on using it much (if at all).  Likewise, those "talking head" videos will not include very much real teaching content, so if your equipment (or Blackboard) can't handle them, don't panic.

Though many of my students don't agree, there are no "red lights and sirens" emergencies in English composition, so if your email system is down, take a deep breath. I don't read my email outside of ordinary working hours anyhow (not at night, not on Sunday, not while I'm driving a car, not while I'm teaching a class), and your desperate question can probably wait. I'll get to it. And if your email is down, write your question on a slip of paper and wait for the email to come back.


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