In Search of a Connection

During the first five days of the school year, internet service interruptions tested student patience.

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Photo by Abby Pingpank

For many students, finishing schoolwork during last week’s Blackboard outage was nearly impossible

Mary Marzula, Staff Writer

In these uncertain times, going back to school is challenging enough. With so many students at home every day, it’s incredibly important that technology is working the way it’s supposed to. For North Allegheny, however, technology was not an ally during the opening stretch of the school year.

On the first day of school, the district experienced an internet outage, followed by another one last Monday. During these outages, Cohort 1 and NACA students lost access to their classes.

Many students were confused when they were unable to log into Blackboard Collaborate and feared they were missing important information.

Bella Falo, a junior in Cohort 1, noticed the issues from inside the classroom.

“For being in-person that day, the outage wasn’t very different for me personally,” she said. “But the teacher during that class was taking time away from us in class by working on getting it fixed.”

Thankfully, I was in-person during the days of the outages, but it did slightly affect the classes because the teachers took more time focusing on the online kids.”

— Ally Harder, junior

Ally Harder, another junior in Cohort 1, had a similar experience.

“Thankfully, I was in-person during the days of the outages, but it did slightly affect the classes because the teachers took more time focusing on the online kids,” she added. “We did still get the assignments done in class, but it definitely was more stressful.”

For Marina Bell, a NACA student this year, the outage caused extra stress.

“I wasn’t able to get anything done for an hour or so, and I waited that long, hoping it would come back up when it never did,” she said. “I felt stressed and frustrated because I was at first worried that I would be the only one.”

Many students expressed a desire to feel included in the classrooms and feel like they are getting all the necessary materials when they are at home. Unfortunately, that did not happen last Monday. 

Sophia St. Myer, a junior in Cohort 2, said, “I missed important information in those classes, so I felt that I was behind since I wasn’t in class.”

For another Cohort 2 junior, Annie Mellinger, the impact of the outage had everything to do with luck.

It makes it near impossible to get the same understanding of the class that you are missing as the people who are able to be in a class that day.”

— Annie Mellinger, junior

“Blackboard crashing throughout the day does affect my daily schedule.,” she said. “It makes it near impossible to get the same understanding of the class that you are missing as the people who are able to be in a class that day. This also creates challenges for teachers because not all of the students are on the same page. Luckily, many of my teachers post the lessons, so I am able to watch and get caught up once Blackboard is working again.”

Fortunately, the Blackboard outage happened only when half of the students were at home, not when everyone was on Wednesday. After the first outage, the tech integrators were certainly more prepared for an increased amount of users.  Since last week, the stability of Blackboard and the internet in general have noticeably improved.

And while all students and teachers are hoping an incident like this does not happen again, if it does, everyone will be more prepared.