Electronic technology is great when it works, but it’s far less reliable than a textbook and blackboard (just ask a teacher in California!). Here is a systematic way to create a plan for responding to unexpected computer downtime, either in the classroom or in administration offices:

  1. Define possible threats. As a team, think about all the things that could go wrong, from computer malfunctions to sabotage by students or staff.

  2. Conduct impact analysis. Consider the impact of each of those threats and rank them from most damaging to least, and from most likely to least.

  3. Generate possible responses. Consider different approaches for responding to each threat.

  4. Identify responses. Choose a course of action for each type of threat. Be as detailed as possible. For example, if a decision is made that certain information cannot be lost, even temporarily, then decide how to provide an uninterruptable power supply (UPS) to that computer.

  5. Adjust policies to reflect the plan. If creating the fail-safe plan results in needing to obtain more information about users of the system or restricting their activities, make sure that everyone is told what changes are being made—and why.

  6. Implement the plan. Make it someone’s priority to ensure that it will be done.

  7. Review the plan periodically. This includes checking backup computer systems and networks on a regular basis to make sure they are backing up data as expected.