Being online in a power cut

We’re facing the prospect of planned power cuts this winter, to protect the energy and power grid. This will have an obvious impact on lots of aspects of our lives, not just the fact it’ll be winter and many will be without heating during these proposed three-hour power cuts.

Like many, I have come to rely on my, so far, solid and stable broadband connection – for work, for shopping, for family, or for fun. It enables me to be informed and connected, it means my kids can play with their friends online, my wife can keep in touch with vulnerable family members who live at a distance from us, I can watch some rubbish on Netflix in the evening, etc.

It means I can work remotely.

This means a similar stable connection can enable someone else to learn remotely. Online.

But what happens when the power goes off?

James Clay wrote ‘When everything goes dark‘ recently which explains quite a bit of where my thoughts are too at the moment.:

“Learning during a blackout is always going to be a challenge, and for many students it will be something that they don’t do until the power comes back on. However universities can do some things that make at least some learning possible, so diminishing the impact of the blackout.”

Alastair Creelman has also written in his post ‘Offline learning in focus as energy crisis looms‘:

“We can learn a lot about resilience from all the educators and students in countries afflicted by crises and war.”

So, what can we do as educators? What advice can we provide to the students worried about missing an assignment deadline, an online webinar, or a collaborative working group session that’s monitored and graded? Is there enough information out there at the moment to help us through this?

I asked something similar on Twitter recently and heard about a UPS (‘Uninterruptible Power Supply’) device – a power pack that plugs into your router to keep the broadband working when there’s no power. It’s likely your phone line will continue to work (it works off a different power supply to your home) during a power cut, providing the infrastructure like this is on a different power supply. Most UPS devices seem to offer anything in the region of a couple of hours up to 10 hours of power to a router thereby enabling online learning or working to continue.

Don’t forget the humble phone, the one we don’t use to make calls with anymore. This can be your lifeline in the event of a power cut. Keep it charged, or keep a battery pack charged and to hand. If the power cuts go on too long or there are too many of them then this will mean many of us will run out our contracted data allowance, so now is the time to check what extras are available and, if necessary, invest in extra data.

Considering the likelihood of these power cuts, I think I’m going to invest in a UPS (here’s a helpful guide with suggestions on what to buy).

What are you doing / going to do?

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash