Confessions of a Digital Leader: Rabbit Ears, Tin Foil and Bandaids of Tech

Remember back in the day when television sets had rabbit ear antennas? Chances are that if you do, you also remember the set of pliers that replaced the channel knob, the wire coat hangers that replaced the antennas and the extensive amounts of tin foil that covered the wire hangers that extended into the sky just so that the television could get a sub-par picture.  This is how we grew up. When something broke, and you did not have access to a repairman, you found a way to fix it. We learned how to deal with problems and make it work because that was our only option.

If you’re wondering how this even remotely relates to classroom technology…bear with me for a second.

As a classroom teacher, I remember those moments when my projector started to die, printer stopped working, accounts were locked out and even the occasional ridiculously slow PC that took forever to load. The truth is that in most cases, those issues went on for months because instead of contacting tech, creating a ticket or taking the time to fix it…it seemed much quicker to just deal. I had my reasons for not doing a ticket and if I am to truly confess, most of those reasons were just that it took forever to enter them and I did not feel like spending the time to do it.

Well, here I am on the other side of the table and we are encountering the same issues. Except it’s not that teachers find bandaids and quick fixes. More often than not, they just stop using the tool or as things stop working, frustration enters.

Earlier today, I had a good laugh with one of our technicians about televisions, tin foil, coat hangers and pliers. We both agreed that we cannot fix what we do not know about whether that issue is an account not working, which is in my domain or a computer not working, which is in his.

The automatic response is that teachers should just enter a ticket in the tech system but my question to him was that perhaps we needed to identify the actual root of the problem.

Why are teachers not letting us know when there are issues with their access or tools?

Is the system that is being used for tech help accessible for all teachers? (You can’t enter a ticket when you can’t get in the system to do it)

What type of information is being collected and how much of that can be automated? (This is important especially when in a school where there is no campus tech support and also no time to spend on entering a 15-20 minute ticket which I am not saying is our issue but I have seen some doozies!)

Do teachers have faith that their issues will be addressed and in a timely manner?

Were teachers involved at all with the planning of how this system works?

In other words, what can we do to make sure that the system works as it was intended to work in the best possible way?

 

The answers to these issues can’t always be as simple as “they need to enter tickets”. If we aren’t truly trying to understand why our communication channels aren’t as effective as we would like and ask important questions of the system, we will continue to encounter teachers who will fix their own issues (cool of them to do that if they like)…teachers who will just stop using things (some of which I’m ok with)…and teachers who survive on rabbit ears, tin foil, pliers and bandaids.

 

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