Where would we be without our tech tools? We rely on them for so much—school, work, communicating with friends—that if disaster strikes in the form of loss, theft, hardware failure, or a virus, it would be easy to slip into a panic. At other times, technical glitches such as a broken Internet connection can make the difference between an assignment completed on time and one that misses the mark.

Though we can’t always prevent computer problems from arising, we can think ahead and mitigate the negative fallout that may occur because of them. In their book E-Learning Companion: A Student’s Guide to Online Success, Fourth Edition, Ryan Watkins and Michael Corry recommend creating a technology contingency plan. This plan helps you protect your resources and also prompts you to identify what alternate resources are available to you in the event of a tech emergency. Review these points, and be sure that you’ve taken these steps before you start your next series of classes:

  • Viruses can wreak havoc on your computer by corrupting your files and perhaps even locking you out of various applications. To prevent this from happening, be sure you’ve installed both antivirus and anti-spyware software on your computer. Because new viruses spring up on a regular basis, you should also be sure to keep the software up to date.
  • Find two or more computers you can use in the event of your own computer failure. For example, your campus computer lab will likely have a bank of workstations with Internet connections and necessary applications; some will also offer printers, scanners, and other tools that will help you finish your work. Your college or public library may also have computers you can use to complete your assignments or access your online resources.
  • Also recommended: identify a “buddy” who can let you know what you may be missing online, inform your instructor about your technical issues if needed, and perhaps allow you use of his or her computer in a pinch.
  • Keep all contact information for your instructor in an easily accessible place—that way, if you lose Internet access, you can still inform him or her of your issue via telephone.
  • If your school has a tech support department, keep their contact information handy as well. They could help you in the event of a computer problem.
  • It also helps to have a second e-mail account, in case your campus e-mail fails or is otherwise inaccessible. (pp. 61-62)

For additional suggestions you can use to protect your technology resources, read our previous post, “Keeping Your Computer Secure.” And don’t forget: back up your work! To lessen the likelihood of losing all your files, save them to a USB flash drive, cloud storage, or other external storage media.

Reference: Watkins, Ryan and Corry, Michael. 2014. E-Learning Companion: A Student’s Guide to Online Success. 4th ed. Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Have you survived a technology emergency? What steps did you take to resolve the issue? Share your story below or submit it to thinktank@cengage.com.