[Classroom IT] 4 Tips to Streamline Device Troubleshooting

Thursday, April 21, 2016 -- Scott Sterling

As more and more devices make their way into schools, troubleshooting the problems that come with them becomes a major effort. Many schools have only a few IT specialists on staff. Some don’t have any, relying instead on the centralized district staff. This lack of support can slow down the process of digital learning. Here are some ways that school IT staffs can speed up basic device troubleshooting.

1. Publish a troubleshooting guide

Many of the tasks that surround troubleshooting can be handled by the users themselves; they just don’t know what to do.

Take the time to create a guide to troubleshooting common problems that a user might have with various devices and platforms (for example, Internet connection issues, printing, projector connection issues, etc.) and then publish it in a binder, online to a wiki page, or both. Then, make a point of telling your users to consult the guide before they pick up the phone. It should cut down on your troubleshooting calls.

2. Enlist students

It’s imperative for students to learn computer skills in school, right? Although most people think that means coding, it also extends to the ins and outs of device maintenance. If you don’t have one already, try offering a “computer literacy” class, and make device troubleshooting a part of the curriculum!

This class could look a lot like the carry-in service at a tech store. Devices would come in with problems. The students learn how to troubleshoot them. Students can even be your first line of defense, visiting classrooms where teachers are having simple problems with their technology. This can work for students as young as upper elementary but is most effective starting in 8th grade or so.

3. Create a tech committee

Although most of your troubleshooting tasks will come from student devices, school employees may have problems of their own. There are ways to enlist teachers and other administrators to share the role of IT staff.

Instead of all tasks being handled by the IT team, form a cadre of teachers for a “tech committee.” This committee can help with everything from addressing overall tech issues in the school to deciding how to spend funds on new equipment. The only caveat with committee membership may be that members become the go-to troubleshooter for their particular wing or grade level. With this committee, you’ve just multiplied your IT staff.

4. Get parents involved

Parents want to stay engaged with the edtech revolution as well. Try hosting a series of parent nights based around technology. A couple of topics that are sure to fill the house are how to keep children safe online and how to block them from making unauthorized purchases. However, you can easily work in some troubleshooting tips as well.

Incorporating technology in the classroom can provide significant benefits to both teachers and students, but it comes with plenty of challenges as well. Check out these tips to successfully implement BYOD!