The Biggest Technology Support Problem in Schools

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August 11, 2018 by Dr. Robbie Barber

I went “back to work” two weeks ago. (Even though I’ve been working all summer preparing for school, I’m now in the building full time.) Every August teachers fill out help desk tickets, call the school IT person (whose voice mail is full), email the school IT person and ask the school librarian – me.

In fact, the first day with students was a blur so I went back and counted. Two people from the district level called or emailed a quick question to me. Two teacher-librarians at other schools emailed me a private question, besides our group conversations. And I had a 10 hr day with a tsunami of emails and visits by schoolhouse teachers all dealing with technology. In most cases, I could answer the questions with minimal effort.  In a couple of cases, I explained who to go to for assistance. This brings up the biggest technology support problem in this whole system.

The biggest problem is the lack of response.

When you send in a help desk ticket, you get an automated email response that it has been received. There is no explanation of the time it will take. There is no expectation of where you are in line or how important your issue is.  t feels like there is no consideration for the schoolhouse teacher who is facing 150 students without some piece of hardware or software they need to do the job today. When a teacher called the helpdesk to get their password reset, they were told there was a line ahead of them. Why? If they’re on the phone, verify their identity and reset the password.

Technical support requires the following:

  1. Answer the email. I reply to most emails and sometimes the response is you are tenth on the list. I do not allow teachers to stop me in the hallways and tell me what they need or get on the list. They need to send an email. And I always reply.
  2. Provide a time estimate. Yes, this is hard, but I’d rather tell my teachers it will be done in 7 days and have it done in less.
  3. Ask questions immediately. Sometimes I send a response that is a series of questions. I do not look into the problem any further until the originator responds with their answers. It’s on their plate, not mine!
  4. Anticipate. If you know passwords are a problem in August, plan for it. If the smart boards haven’t been used all summer, boot them up before the first day of class. Think ahead about what problems a teacher might encounter with technology and have a plan.

When you provide a response to a technology problem, you reduce the fear of technology in the classroom. Feeling supported matters.

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