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Back-up Plan
Technology Management

Unfortunately, it is necessary for teachers to have a back-up plan in case the technology fails.  For situations involving the use of the Internet, teachers should make sure they know if an alternative site is available and they should have this information written down in a convenient location.  Teachers can also make print outs of specific images or data ahead of time to have on hand, or they can save these images and web pages to the hard drive of their computer. Alternatively, teachers can devise a plan for switching to an optional or non-technological part of the project, such as watching an educational video or journal writing, if a technical problem arises.



A high school physics class uses the Navigational Vectors project to track airplanes flying in U.S. skies. Using trigonometry they determine the plane's air speed and predict its time of arrival at its destination. Prior to undertaking the project, the teacher has devised a back-up plan. She has identified back-up sites that can be used to access the real time data in case those sites are down during class time. Additionally, she copies relevant images to the hard drive of the computer so that the images can be viewed later in class if the Internet connection fails. The image may be a few hours out of date but will be sufficient for the purposes of the project.  

Consider these questions as you review your project.

  • What activities in the project you have selected will require a back-up plan in case the technology fails?

  • Are there alternative web sites that can be used if the primary sites are down?

  • Do you have a back-up class activity that you can use if the technology is not working?

Use these resources to help you develop a back-up plan.

Online Resources

  • When All Else Fails: The Back-up Plan - Provides some good reasons for having a back-up plan but some of the ideas are specific to one particular university

  • Backup Plans by Bill Bateman - Good article about using Web Whacker to create a back up plan.  Keep in mind that Web Whacker cannot save some types of Internet content such as forms, interactive components, or real time data.

  • Techniques for Saving Internet Information - List of techniques for saving information and data gathered from the Internet so that it can then be used on other non-Internet computers.

Stevens Developed Content

Potential Back-up Lesson Plans

Presentation Hardware and Software Sites
Note: The following sites are not endorsed by the project partners, developers or funding agencies.

Back-up Plans
The Internet is an amazingly complex system of interconnected computers and networks.  It can send millions of packets of data, along different routes, from New York to Japan in only a few seconds and then reassemble those packets to form a picture on your screen.  As much as I use the Internet this fact still amazes me.  As unbelievable as the technology is, a lot of people do get frustrated when this system has a temporary problem which slows their connection or prevents them from accessing it at all.  This is very understandable but should not be reason alone to stop using the technology, which is unfortunately how some people react to it.  This would be like you deciding to never watch your cable TV again after it went out for a few hours.  My point is that the Internet is not 100% reliable but this should not be a reason to stop using it or to be constantly worried that it will not be available when you need it.

On the other hand, I also understand what it means to have a room full of 30 7th graders who all need to access for that day's lesson and who cannot get online.  That is why I always stress the importance of having a non-technology based back-up plan in case the Internet or other equipment develops problems.  Unfortunately, as much as I stress the importance of having such plan many teachers see it as time consuming and often tell me that they simply do not have time to put one together prior to starting their project.  I always hear back from them the following year saying that they wished they had developed one because as we all know it is not a question of will the technology fail but when.  On a final note, when you develop your back up plan you will want to make sure that you have everything you need ready to go at a moments notice.  If you have to photocopy papers or other work to get prepared you will often not have the time to get it all done.  Again, putting a little time into developing a simple back up plan will definitely pay off in the long run.  So, here are a few ideas for back-up plans that are easy to put together and which can be used at any time:

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