Increasing use of Technology creates need for troubleshooting strategies

There are several problems that can happen when teaching with technology, it can be with either the hardware or the software. Teachers who use technology on a daily basis have developed strategies to successfully minimize issues and help move the lesson forward. Besides errors that can be listed in a common troubleshooting checklist, IT services can provide strategies that soon become classroom routines. Students are great resources, they can share how they solve technology issues with the classroom and teacher.
Giving students time to experiment with both hardware and software, they can explore the similarities and differences, examine the menus and the tools, learn how to save work and open files, and discover where the help is. Giving them time to become comfortable with the technology to try different options helps them when looking for solutions to problems. Having students who take turns in the role of tech support allows for them to work with each other and instills a confidence in their abilities.
There are several other strategies other than the problem checklist. One strategy is to have the students ask their neighbors (similar to ask three before me), developing a helping and supportive environment among students. If this is to be used, students should be taught how to ask questions. Teaching students how to explain to each other what the problem is, by gathering the information for the question they find the solution. Letting your need help, sets up a frustrating environment if you don’t show them how. Problem solving strategies need to be taught, especially students work and telling them to ask each other when they with technology. Technology problem solving is different, the steps you take need to be tracked and solutions should be tested as you proceed. Trying several different changes before testing your solution doesn’t provide the information on which change actually was the solution.genYES
In Computer Programming there are three basic areas that can cause problems, that you should check first: are you getting the right input; are you outputting the right variable; have you set up your calculation correctly (order of operations). You can check for your errors and if you are still having problems, your questions should include: what do you want your program to do; what is the program doing; and how are they trying to solve the problem. Example: My program should: I tried to calculate the average of three numbers, my numbers are being entered correctly and I have the answer printing, but getting the wrong answer. I have been changing the formula that calculates the average, but still getting the wrong answer. My program should: I want the program to print out the value with 2 decimal places, but getting more than that. I tried to calculate only two decimal places by dividing the answer by 100.
At one point in our school, they had an organized student help desk. The computer repair class would on certain days of the week help teachers and staff with technology issues. It taught the students needed communication skills, and also exposed them to problems they had not seen before, requiring them to use their knowledge and skills. There are ways to develop programs that work similar to this, but they need to have supervision and a teacher to supervise the students. Consequently, with a small number of students, the cost of the program was too expensive. Having students troubleshoot technology is not a new idea, curriculum is available to help. GenYES (genyes.org) is one that I have worked with at the Middle School level, I have not heard much about its use recently.
There is a catch-all solution that should be tried if all else fails, reboot. It works and is the first solution your technology support services will ask you to do.


Works Consulted

L. (n.d.). Ed Tech Tip: Plan a Program Play Day. Retrieved August 19, 2016, from http://www.teachhub.com/ed-tech-tip-plan-program-play-day

Computer Troubleshooting for Teachers and Students. (n.d.). Retrieved August 19, 2016, from http://webpage.pace.edu/ms16182p/troubleshooting/home.html

Davis, J. (2015, February 15). 10 Things Students Should Know About Tech by Fifth Grade — THE Journal. Retrieved August 19, 2016, from https://thejournal.com/articles/2015/02/23/10-things-elementary-students-should-know-about-tech-by-fifth-grade.aspx

Huddleston, A. (2014, August 16). Classroom Management Solution: Tech Helpers {A Bright Idea} — The Science Penguin. Retrieved August 19, 2016, from http://thesciencepenguin.com/2014/08/classroom-management-solution-tech-helpers-a-bright-idea.html

Murray, J. (n.d.). Solve Those Tricky Classroom Tech Problems. Retrieved August 19, 2016, from http://www.teachhub.com/how-solve-tricky-classroom-tech-problems

Murray, J. (2013, September 09). 25 Techie Problems Every Student Can Fix–Update. Retrieved August 19, 2016, from http://askatechteacher.com/2013/09/09/25-techie-problems-every-student-can-fix-update/

Student Helpers. (n.d.). Retrieved August 19, 2016, from http://eduwikius.wikispaces.com/

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1 Comment

  1. Kaity August 22, 2016 at 7:40 pm

    Ha! “Did you try restarting it” is a great go-to for technology issues. I love the idea of having a student tech services desk, but I appreciate your feedback of a program like that not being a good fit based on resources, cost, etc. In class, I would try to assign 2-3 students as “experts” who would help fellow students first- the qualifications weren’t necessarily that they knew everything about what we were working on, but that they would sit with a classmate and work through it with them, putting them in charge of figuring out together.

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