Technical Difficulties: Online Econometrics, Day 5

I’m afraid today’s report is more of a rant and is a little light on the teaching tips. Given that we’re playing close to the technological bleeding edge, it was bound to happen. I love to tell my friends who ask me for computer advice to buy a Mac because it “just works.” It didn’t just work today.

Things started so well. I went over a few administrative things and did some follow up to a video lecture I recorded last year a couple days before the Iranian presidential election. The Washington Post had just reported the results of poll that showed Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf was the “runaway favorite” with 39% of 430 people surveyed supporting him. It turned out the poll wasn’t very predictive of reality–Hassan Rouhani ended up winning with three times more votes than Ghalibaf (BBC). Rouhani had 8% of the vote in the poll. We had a nice discussion of what the heck might have gone wrong.

Next, I introduced a hypothesis testing problem and gave them five minutes to work on it individually. That’s when everything crashed and burned. My USB headset stopped working first, so I had to rely on my Macbook’s built in microphone. Then my tablet stopped working so I couldn’t work through the problem. I have no idea why, but my USB ports weren’t providing power to the peripheral devices. When the video conferencing software hung, I tried to reboot, and even that didn’t work.

Score one for the Mac equivalent of Ctrl-Alt-Delete–I held down my power button and hard rebooted the machine. Everything came back fine, and I was pleasantly surprised to find my students working together on the problem I had left for them. We finished that one, did one more and we were out of time.

Literally, at the end of the day, I have no idea why everything went to hell. My plan is to use a plain old Apple iPhone headset next time and hope things go better.