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Tech Support and Teachers: Like Two Foreign Languages

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I’m both teacher and tech support, so I’m split on these two lists. I understand where teachers want clear, non-techie explanations (just as parents want school help without all the education jargon like ‘automaticity’ and ‘authentic assessment’). On the other hand, I see tech’s side when they wish teachers would learn enough about their computers and internet to get through a day. Isn’t that what we preach to students–take responsibility, be empowered? Yes, tech should test a fix before declaring the computer fixed, but teachers should try to fix their computer before calling tech (i.e., check the power, check the plugs, reboot–these are standard problem solvers)

The ten commandments of school tech support

  1. Thou shalt test the fix.
  2. Thou shalt talk to actual students and teachers and make time to watch how  technology works during actual class time, not just when it’s quiet.
  3. Thou shalt not make fun of the tech skills of teachers or students, nor allow anyone else in the tech department to make disparaging remarks about them.
  4. Closing trouble tickets shalt not be thine highest calling; thou shalt strive to  continually make the learning environment better.
  5. Thou shalt not elevate the system above the users.
  6. The network will be never be perfect. Learning is messy. Get thyself over it.
  7. When teaching someone a new skill, keep thy hands off the mouse.
  8. Thou shalt listen to requests with an open mind and respond in plain English.
  9. Blocking shall be controlled by educators, not filtering companies. Thy job is to enable learning, not enforce behavior.
  10. Thou shalt include students and teachers in decision-making about technology purchases and policy. Their interest is not an affront to your professionalism.

Thanks to Generation YES’s Blog.

A response from the school tech support.

  1. This means that teachers need to expect to work with IT to shape a viable fix. Chances are it will be time consuming and there will be a good bit of trial and error.
  2. We do, just remember the school is not home. We need to accommodate a classroom worth of users times the number of computer classrooms simultaneously. We also do have other parts to our job, we can only make it to a classroom when there is time available.
  3. We won’t pick on you if you don’t pick on us. Yes, we do know what you say about us.
  4. We’re IT people, we do computers and electronics not necessarily learning environments. We try, but don’t expect exceptional things without some help.
  5. We do the system, you educate kids. We don’t read minds, if you have a problem, talk to us. We will try to accommodate you, but we need to keep things working well for all users, not just you.
  6. Agreed, as educators, you need to have a plan B for when the network may not be cooperating. Trust me, we didn’t break it just to make sure you have a bad day.
  7. We’re happy to teach, don’t expect us to do everything tech for you.
  8. Ask for clarification if you don’t understand something. We have found that people don’t like when we dumb things down too much. You expect the kids to ask if they don’t get it, we expect the same from you.
  9. Yes, but far too many of you think of the filter as a safety net that will prevent kids from finding the “bad stuff”. Trust me, they do it anyway, when your not looking. We don’t like filters any more than you do, but CIPA forces us to have a filter. Unless you want to spend all day digging through logs looking at sites, we have to leave some of it up to a filtering company.
  10. Gladly, then you will realize what’s involved in making things happen.

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3 thoughts on “Tech Support and Teachers: Like Two Foreign Languages

  1. Great article… When I was doing IT (prior to retirement), I found it was all about ethics. I met many IT Managers out there that should read these commandments and what they mean.

    • Thanks, Ramblinrick. I straddle both worlds, but I see things more on IT’s side. Sometimes the teachers are just too darn afraid of technology to even try to problem solve.

      BTW, I love your blog. Been over to visit many times.

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