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What the Recent Power Outage Should Teach Us

On Tuesday, January 1, 2017, the city of Radford, along with Radford University, experienced a widespread power outage.  Normally, this is expected to happen occasionally, but on this particular day, there was nothing but decent weather, a few clouds in the sky, and only harsh wind.  Even the students who had already finished their classes for the day faced an unproductive situation since they couldn’t do any homework online.  The power outage lasted a little over an hour, but in that short period of time, it really showed how reliant we all are on technology these days.

While classrooms might still sometimes conjure up the typical teacher drawing on a chalkboard, along with posters and students raising their hands, the reality is that the average classroom has really changed, just like we have in adapting to technology.  Nowadays, the majority of classes are taught through a PowerPoint, and teachers often go to a website, whether Radford-related or otherwise, at least once.  It’s nothing new to be in class and see a teacher ask his or her students to look something up on their phones.  But of course, the thought of not being able to use technology made everyone forget about the other major problem resulting from a power outage: not being able to see.

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“The power outage lasted a little over an hour, but in that short period of time, it really showed how reliant we all are on technology these days.” Photo from: jronaldlee.com

For the first time in a while, many of us sat in a class where there were no computers, PowerPoints, or anyone using their phone.  Many students are used to having all of these typical classroom factors every class, but the last time we were in school before technology really took over was in elementary school, where there was very limited computer use, and if we were lucky, the occasional movie.  Not having any technology and only having a chalkboard baffled some teachers even, but classes went on the best they could.

What’s important to take away from the power outage is how reliant our society is on technology.  Things are so different when it isn’t available, and without it, we can see how living was just 10 years ago.  It can be nice having fewer distractions and not having to stare at a screen forever.  I am sure some of us, not feeling compelled to check our phone or look at the time, even learned more than we would in a usual class with power.  The power outage was a strange and unexpected occurrence, but it wasn’t as bad as people thought it would be, and was actually in some ways beneficial.  The people who got to strangely experience having class without technology, or having one in a different classroom because their usual one was pitch black, actually got the chance to reflect on how much being in class has changed. A power outage will most likely not occur again, but if it does, we know that some of us could expect to experience an older way of learning again, and that we are a lot more capable in a power outage than a lot of people initially thought.