The internet isn’t working!!

“The internet doesn’t work”

A statement heard in my home the other day as my wife tried to access an app on her mobile phone.    I am sure the very same statement may have been uttered in households across the UK and beyond.   In itself it seems like a simple enough statement.    The issue is that it is a gross over simplification.

So let’s work through some possible issues.   First of all the issue could have been with the specific app which my wife was trying to use.   The issue may instead relate to the operating system of the phone, which in this case was Android, or to the physical hardware of the phone.   Maybe Wi-Fi was turned off on the phone or it was in aeroplane mode.   If the issue isn’t in the software or hardware of the phone it could relate to a weak wireless signal due to interference or just poor reception relating from distance or from obstructions between the device and the wireless access point or router.   The issue may relate to the Wi-Fi password and/or the security settings for the wireless network.   This brings us to the wireless access point or router which may represent an issue in terms of its functionality or its configuration.    At this point there are already a large number of things which might account for the issue being so vaguely reported however this is only a small number of the overall possible causes.

Other issues could be an issue in relation to DHCP within the router, assuming we are looking at your average home network.    It may be that the router is blocking traffic possibly.  Another option is the actual connection between the router and the ISP.    This may be incorrectly setup or there could be a physical issue in the line.   Maybe I haven’t paid the bill and the ISP has cut my home off.    Issues with the Domain Name Server (DNS) are another possible issue as are issues with the actual server with which the app is trying to communicate.

And the above only represents some of the possible causes, with other options and combinations of options being possible, and yet for all the possible causes the issue is simply presented as “the internet doesn’t work”.

Technology has become a necessity rather than a luxury.       We need it for banking, accessing council services, accessing government services and communication among many other areas.    As such we expect it to work, and that is simple; it either works or it doesn’t.     So when it doesn’t we make simple statements, which I believe highlights our generally simplistic understanding of technology, and yet we bring more and more technological devices into our home.    Do we truly understand how this tech works?   Do we understanding the implications of using it?    Do we know how to use it in a safe and secure manner?

I would suggest the answer to the above questions is No and yet we worry about the lack of understanding of our students.   How can they hope to understand and be safe with technology when we adults, the ones who they are taught by, parented by and their role models generally don’t.   Lets stop using these concerns for limiting and blocking technology use, and instead lets explore technology use with our students and children, making mistakes, and learning as we go.

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Author: garyhenderson2014

Gary Henderson is currently the Director of IT in an Independent school in the UK. Prior to this he worked as the Head of Learning Technologies working with public and private schools across the Middle East. This includes leading the planning and development of IT within a number of new schools opening in the UAE. As a trained teacher with over 15 years working in education his experience includes UK state secondary schools, further education and higher education, as well as experience of various international schools teaching various curricula. This has led him to present at a number of educational conferences in the Middle East. In addition Gary is a Google and Microsoft Certified Educator.

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