George Lucas Educational Foundation
Technology Integration

Four Troubleshooting Commandments

September 5, 2012
Photo credit: berkeleylab via flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The school year is under way, and your lessons have been great. One day after school you decide to stay late and get some extra work done when, all of a sudden, the piece of tech you are using stops working! OMG! After several minutes of crying and hyperventilating, you have no idea what to do next. Tech support is the logical choice, but that could take too long before someone can actually assist you. They are always so busy helping others with their problems that it could be days before they get to yours. Well, here are four troubleshooting commandments that might help you with your problem before you have to call the Help Desk.

1) Always Check to See if It's Turned On and/or Plugged In

I know this one seems silly, but it's something that always needs to be checked. Being switched off or unplugged is the solution to nonfunctioning tech more often than you would think. Also, make sure the electrical outlet itself is working. Plug something in that you know works and see if it turns on. If it does, then we can get to the next step. If it doesn't, it's a different problem that requires a different set of solutions.

2) Always Restart When Possible

If the program or application is not working right or freezing, restarting the computer can solve many problems. There might have been new updates installed earlier in the day, and a restart will sort everything out. I have solved more than a few problems with a simple restart. You might lose some work you've been doing, but that's a small price to pay if this is the only solution to your current problem.

3) Always Consult Google

I wish I had all of the tech information in the world at my fingertips . . . wait, I do. Google is where I go when I can't find the answers to questions a teacher asks me, and it should be where all teachers go when trying to troubleshoot their problems. Type in the specific problem you're having with the specific application or piece of hardware, and nine times out of ten, your answer will appear on the screen. It is very likely that you aren't the first person to encounter this problem and that someone out there has a solution. That solution might be calling the tech guy, but at least you'll know for the future.

4) Always Ask Your PLN

If Google cannot offer up a solution, asking your PLN is the next best thing. Some would say it's even better because you're getting real people to solve your problem in real time. I have connected with experts in many different fields and can count on them to lend me a hand when I’m having trouble with different pieces of technology. When in doubt, ask the PLN and they will help.

These four troubleshooting commandments can save teachers and tech support countless work hours if followed when tech-related problems pop up. For every problem solved by a teacher, tech support can give more time to bigger problems faced by others. As you solve more of your own problems, you might even pick up a few tips and tricks to share with the rest of us the next time we reach out to Twitter on the verge of a meltdown.

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