A Backup Plan is Essential

Well why not kick off my teaching blog with an example of near disaster?

Today, I arrived at my lecture a solid 15 minutes before it started.  I knew I'd need some extra time, as The ANU just upgraded its lecture PCs to Windoze (or was that Windows? I'm an Apple fan) to Windows 8.  Supposedly the first time you log in, it takes a few minutes to get sorted.

Well the machine didn't even let me get that far.  It threw an indiscriminate memory error that wouldn't go away even after restarting the machine!  So a short jog was in order to retrieve my laptop ("good thing I'm not a fat old guy" I told my students).  As it is a trusty macbook pro, it started up no dramas and we were all ready to boot up the projectors...

But of course one of the projectors isn't working.  Quick fix, digging out the remote and abandoning the built in controls on the lectern PC switches it on (thank goodness the wall was white, because the screen wasn't coming down).

So then we progress to the point where my mic batteries die - not a big deal, as more were on hand.  With a quick setup of my iPhone to record the lecture (as the Digital Lecture Delivery relies on the broken Windows machine), voila - we're only 10 minutes late starting the lecture, so the students can finally get back to yawning while I drone on about "What is The Planet?".

Moral of the story:  I need a better backup plan, so here it is:

  • Always arrive a the lecture 10 minutes ahead of time
  • Never go to a lecture trusting the lecture hall PC to work (bring a laptop)
  • Always take a spare set of batteries for the mic
  • Have the IT guys number on hand (ext 54321)
  • Be ready to record your own lecture 
  • Have a thumbdrive and Dropbox copy of the lecture ready to go

Don't worry students, you can download the lecture here:

[PDF of slides]

[MP4 Audio File]