What can I do when my classroom technology does not work?

Thursday, November 4th, 2010 | Computer Usage

The more pieces of technology you have in your classroom, the more can go wrong.  You may have a computer, data projector, printer, scanner, digital camera and equipment to transform your classroom into an interactive one.  Often these items have different brand names and are obtained from different suppliers – this complicates the matter when something goes wrong.

If you are not a technical expert, you may feel at a loss if your technology does not work.  How do you feel when this happens to you?  Stuck?  Frustrated?  Inclined to throw the equipment out the window?

Three simple suggestions may help you to stay sane:

When your device does not respond, do a quick check by switching off all the different components; make sure that all connections are intact and that the equipment is plugged in at the wall sockets and switched on; leave the equipment switched off for a few moments and then switch them all on again.  You’ll be surprised how often this simple procedure does the trick!

If the problem persists, call an expert.  Another teacher in your school – one with more experience than you – may be able solve the problem quickly.  When such help is not available in your school, call for technical assistance from outside – possibly from your technology supplier.  When the expert solves the problem, observe closely and try to learn as much as you can to build your own expertise.  (Hint: keep a list of the suppliers of your equipment, with their telephone numbers, in your classroom.  Problems can often be resolved over the phone.)

While waiting for the expert, test each piece of equipment in turn.  The most likely cause of the problem is the computer or laptop.  Check whether it is operating properly on its own – loading files, displaying them on the screen, and responding to mouse or keyboard prompts.  If you are satisfied that the computer works, connect the other devices one by one and test the system after each connection.  Through a process of elimination you may be able to pinpoint the area of your problem.

When help is not forthcoming immediately, don’t waste time – go to your Plan  B … and continue teaching.

Perform a quick test of the technology you plan to use before the start of the school day – this will avoid embarrassing and time-wasting situations later.

For more technology tips for teachers click here.

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3 Comments to What can I do when my classroom technology does not work?

Albie
Thursday, 4 November, 2010

Kobus – I am a “technological worshipper”. I believe in the technology and will NOT give up on its advantages, despite the variety of “technical” issues that surface @ schools DAILY. A Plan B, as commented and blogged earlier by Mark C, should always be part of an educator’ toolkit !

I am also aware that the older schools i.e. those that were issued with technology in the early 2002, are now showing signs of “depletion of their HDD layers”. Most educators are not technological lovers and view these “electronic devices” as a threat to their normal classroom teaching activities – hence the approach of no troubleshooting, but back to old traditional teaching methods. To stay sane, the educator can use the advice that you have mentioned in this blog above, but some educators fear the digital era with passion! Why ? Technology let them down so too the suppliers / vendors / technicians.

What I would like to know is – why are certain State Departments in a position to replace their 3 year old workstations / computers, but schools must aquire their own new technology out of “own funds”? Some schools due to historical, social, economical and financial reasons will never (?) be in a position to sustain or even replace their then old and outdated technology. Further, some schools are now no-fees schools and they are the schools that cannot afford to “lose a cent” as every penny counts. Wealthier schools do have the capacity to maintain their electronic equipment year after year, but some schools is not even in a “financial” position to buy a cartridge of ink to print their schedules, admin, reports etc @ the end of the year!

Maybe due to this scenario of “classroom / LAB technology / computers / printers not working” is a blessing in disguise for some educators ….. they, the educators, just revert back to the “easier and cheaper” teaching equipment …. talk and chalk !

Albie still an EAIWB Plan A Facilitator

Mark C
Friday, 5 November, 2010

I think that within schools, between schools and with the department communication is poor. People will only ask others they find trustworthy and reliable. Moreover, educators look for person/s that will fix their problem without making fun of them (lol).

@Albie. While I agree with Albie about making tech solutions of problems part of your toolkit, very few want to do it. I understand how my car works but I’m not interested in fixing it.

Owning technology. When it is not working…who is the owner of the technology? Who used it, what went wrong while using it and when did it happen or how did it happen? Somehow when technology breaks the owners/users are non-existent. Up till today schools still see labs as Khanya’s lab and not their own. Khanya must fix the lab, laptops, data projectors, whiteboards, electrical problems, the toilets (Oops! not that one). Now to use two terms that are now used ad nauseum: “accountability” and “responsibility”. (Aaaargh!)

Funding. After listening to the quintile story of funding schools and no-fee schools. The no-fee school concept does not work. The little money schools receive do not cover all expenses. In most cases there is no money to service broken tech. Funds are not necessarily mismanaged as some officials would like us to believe. There is just not enough money to go around.Don’t ask the WCED for help, the problem will be deflected (back) to you. (BTW…a no-fee school of mine has an outstanding bill with the city of cape town for R600 000).

My strategy to solve tech problems is to “steel met die oog” from the techies. I try to understand and visualize problems, think about it or look for a possible answer and then implement the solution…otherwise I ask my children. It is best to document the solution..but we humans don’t like this.

chas
Friday, 5 November, 2010

Educators are scared to ‘scratch’. Try to figure it out and learn in the process. Many say ‘it’s not my responsibility’.
Those who know, want to be paid extra. The 2 SNA identified in a school do not have the time to assist other educators in the class or lab. Principals should manage this process too.

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