This is the classic excuse for not getting ones homework as portrayed by television sitcoms and comedians. I have updated this old adage to “the internet ate my homework.” I have never had a student actually throw his or her dog under the bus, but I have several versions of the internet excuse. This more modern version is actually more probable since computers and computers connected to the internet can be, at times, quite fickle. Things disappear in spite of your belief that have done everything correctly. Sometimes they reappear. Sometimes the lost data or file stays in whatever nether region of your hard drive, the internet, or ether-net it might have been banished to. This is exactly what happened to me last night.
I sat down late in the evening to type up a blog bit for my business website. It was going to be about Wal-Mart under performing financially for the past five quarters. Ten years ago, no one would have predicted this but it is a classic case of the market shifting from the tried and true model Wal-Mart had built their empire on to something Wal-Mart is not as good at: internet sales. I started typing on my iPad directly into the app made for posting on Squarespace, an website hosting and development application. I have used this app several times to develop my business blog posting. Cutting and pasting from MS Word or Google Docs always results in formatting issues because these word processors have either different or more formatting characters in the background.
I had typed in about 300 words and had to stop working on the blog and attend to something else. When I came back, the Squarespace app was closed. I opened it with the intent of finishing the post. My work was not there. I had either not saved it which is the more likely explanation or, queue up the Twilight Zone theme, the internet ate my homework!
In classes where I assign papers or excel assignments, I hear some version of ones homework being lost somewhere in cyberspace. It does not happen often. For a class of 25 to 30 students, the excuse is used one time for every two to three assignments. I am never clear if the internet did in fact eat their homework or if they are just procrastinated too long and simply need the extra time to finish the assignment. Given that I experience the same phenomena of the internet occasionally eating my work… I cut them some slack.
I wondered what kind of excuses students might use? I googled the topic expecting to find some very creative and very funny excuses. There are plenty of websites that claim to have the best or Top Ten excuses. Most were not really that clever or unique. Most were computer or cloud related such as:
- Bad or lost thumb-drive.
- Hard drive crashed
- The internet was down and the assignment in some cloud based storage device like dropbox.
In the past few years, I have heard an excuse that is outside my experience. Eighteen and nineteen year old girls tell me that their three or four year old was really sick or had to be rushed to Emergency. I know it is reality. It just surprises me each time I hear it.