Sunday, February 27, 2011

Being tech support

    I wear all the hats in my program, including technical support.  The number one problem is forgotten passwords. Kids are at home trying to remember their password so they can do their homework; often they’ve also forgotten their login ID, even though I’ve made it identical to their login ID for school computers.  I then get student or parent emails asking for the password; as long as I can tell who is really emailing me, I reset the password and remind them of the userid by return email.  Kids also ask me at school.
[Men working on telephone lines, probably near a TVA dam hydroelectric plant] (LOC)photo © 1939 The Library of Congress | more info (via: Wylio)

     I did have one parent who tried to phone me at home at 8:15 PM (a number I never share, by the way) to demand her child’s password for work that was due the next day; I use my answering machine to screen calls and did NOT answer.  Students always have alternative ways of both finding the work (on the school-supplied webpage, Edline, and on the Moodle) and submitting it, so forgetting the password is not an emergency (and can’t be used as an excuse for not doing work). 

    One student has asked me repeatedly to reset his password, because he supposedly “couldn’t get on” but when I had him login right in front of me there was no problem.  I informed his parents and he’s no longer using that excuse. 

    Occasionally I get asked for clarifications, mostly via email.  When is something due again?  Where is the file (right after the directions…)  Kids also ask questions via discussion forums, but they tend to answer each other there.  A good thing, too, since I don’t check email after dinner, so kids who wait until the last minute are just out of luck.  (I’ve learned that nastygrams always come late in the day, and I prefer not to spend my evenings composing and re-composing responses.) 

    Since I’ve put the written directions at the very top of the Moodle,  I receive many fewer questions. 

    One of the interesting things about tech support is that it has gotten students, who tell me they “never” use email, to use email.  Of course, some email me a question and then forget to check their email for my answer…


  1. I read this and can relate. I teach adults that are in college and it seems that no matter the level, they have the same issues. Technology is something that we love to hate:) I try to stay positive and think that even though I am not focusing on the course content, they are still learning....something. I use it as a moment to teach and share my knowledge.

    Thanks for the information. I look forward to reading your upcoming posts and tweets!

  2. "even though I am not focusing on the course content, they are still learning... something."

    I agree; sometimes it's just good that the student finally figured out how to do something - overcoming technology can be an important life skill ;)