Todd’s Note: Oh my goodness! Some how, because I know more about computers than others on the campuses that I serve, I get hit up a lot with, “My projector won’t connect to the computer” or “My computer isn’t coming on!” or “My mouse is broken!” Many times it is something very simple, a plug is not connected correctly, the computer needs to reboot or even the mouse needs to be plugged in! This last week, like so many first weeks back, I spent a lot of time troubleshooting computer issues. This, makes it easier on our IT people, but I wind up losing precious hours of work time. I know the teachers appreciate it, so it is worth it.
As time marches on, technology in the classroom is continuing to develop to increase efficiency and improve learning methods. Unfortunately, there are many teachers out there who either don’t fully understand the tools they are provided for technological learning or don’t understand how to troubleshoot simple problems on the computer systems they use on a regular basis. Although the tech department is in charge of keeping the computers running smoothly, you could do your part in providing a less troubled environment, especially on days where online testing is mandatory.
1. DIY – If you have a minor problem that could have been fixed by making sure cables were plugged in tightly, that is taking time away from other problems that the IT personnel could be working on. Although some problems may be more serious than others, conducting your own troubleshooting could help the tech fix your problem faster or allow you to do it yourself. While it’s not in your job description to maintain your computer equipment, helping yourself in this manner helps the school afford to keep the IT personnel on staff.
2. Tech Learning – You don’t have to enroll in college courses in order to troubleshoot basic problems. In fact, some school districts will offer free computer classes hosted by the very IT department that manages the schools. If this isn’t available, why not suggest having one? Not only will these classes be beneficial to your classroom needs, but the knowledge you gain could help you in your home needs as well.
3. Simple Fixes – Don’t be afraid to research your own problem. If your monitor is black with no picture, a quick search in Google can offer a few items to check before you contact your IT department. Many times, plugs will work themselves out, switches may be flipped, or vindictive students may simply unplug the device. This can help you keep your classroom going using the technology without having to wait on the ever-busy IT department.
4. Learn to Fix Reoccurring Problems – When your technical support fixes a problem you had, don’t be afraid to ask him or her how it was accomplished. If it is something within your scope of understanding, you can fix your own problems later while reducing your dependency on others to keep your class utilizing the tools you have. Many times, fixes are fairly easy to accomplish and jotting down a few notes while the tech is there can help you fix the problem yourself later on.
5. Learn How to Use It – Research the tools you are provided from the school district. All too often, teachers are handed innovative equipment such as tablets, Promethean boards, software, and others without having a basic knowledge of how to use them. Again, here is where Google is your friend. Regardless of the device you are given, tutorials and how-tos are plentiful on the Internet in order to show you just how far you can take the tool.
Technology is going to be ever present within your life and the lives of your students. Being afraid of such devices can only hinder your advancement as well as the students in your classroom. By not learning how to use the tools you are provided, you could be missing an opportunity for personal growth as well as enlightening the minds of the very children you are trying to teach. Take the time to be a student yourself and save your IT department a great deal of time and money.
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