Internet outages make it diffifult to be a good student

By Jack Baker

On Monday, I tried to do my homework numerous times throughout the day. Unfortunately, as I am sure you all know, the Internet would not cooperate.

My browser wouldn’t load and I couldn’t open Blackboard and pull up the discussion questions I needed to answer for my philosophy class on Tuesday.

While the Internet in my Douglas dorm room is usually pretty reliable, it was nightmarishly bad on Monday. When it finally did load, it was so slow that I could not even open Facebook and post a status about how slow the Internet was, as many of my friends had somehow managed to do.

The lack of social networking was obviously a huge concern, but the far more pressing issue was the fact that I could not do my work for school.

While it is just the beginning of the semester and it is not the end of the world to show up for class without an assignment or the PowerPoint slides for the lecture, it did give me some flashbacks to a period of my academic life that I would prefer not to revisit.

Last December, students everywhere were sent into a mad scramble during finals week to try and find out how they could access their study materials on Blackboard or even e-mail their professors to let them know that the Internet outage had left them academically useless.

The problem was a result of a power outage, whereas Monday’s problems were a result of equipment changes made by NIU’s service providers located in Texas, according to Jim Fatz, director of Information Security and Operations.

Fatz said that problems like what happened Monday can happen occasionally and that it was not caused by anyone at NIU. He added that the provider documented the trouble in hopes of recognizing and fixing it were it to happen again.

Although these incidents are unrelated, it is still very troubling that there can be so many problems with something that is so pivotal to students’ ability to complete their assignments.

ITS needs to make sure they are doing everything in their power to keep things going smoothly. When incidents do happen, they need to inform students and faculty of the problem, what they are doing to fix it and how long the university should expect to be without the Internet.

With the amount of information, assignments, and course documents that are now done online, we have to be able to access all of it from campus computers.

If professors are going to continue to put an emphasis on using online resources for their classes, then the university needs to ensure that students are going to have access to those resources while they are here.

If it cannot be guaranteed that students on campus will have access to the Internet, then professors need to stop relying on it or be more lenient with their deadlines.