Troubleshooting Computer Problems

I am a big advocate of training my students to become as independent as possible with technology. Many technology users can get bogged down with “technical issues” which can take away from the benefits of using the tools.

As I have written about before here and here, I try to make my use of ICT explicit to my Grade Two students. While teaching incidental skills, rather than simply instructing, I like to ask the students what they think we should do. I believe that confident users of ICT use their intuition a lot and this is something I want to develop in my students.

With the addition of 20 new netbooks to our classroom, the need for students to be able to troubleshoot their own problems has increased.

I recently made this poster to remind students of the troubleshooting skills we have discussed incidentally.

After going through the poster with the students, it is displayed in various places in the classroom as a constant reminder of how to troubleshoot common computer problems.

For a little bit of humour, I love this cartoon that Kim Confino once published in a blog post.

tech_support_cheat_sheet

What other troubleshooting tips could you add?

How do you teach your students to troubleshoot?

Troubleshooting Computer Problems
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22 thoughts on “Troubleshooting Computer Problems

  • August 1, 2011 at 6:16 pm
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    As always Kathleen an awesome post, I’m pretty sure that trouble-shooting poster could be used by a lot of adult users too!

    Stef

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  • August 1, 2011 at 6:56 pm
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    Great cartoon, Kathleen. Yes I would definitely agree that confident users use intuition when faced with computer issues. They expect to see certain buttons or tabs in all programs but have an understanding that they might look different or appear in a different location.

    A little tip is to look behind a window as well. Sometimes a window will look as if nothing is happening when there might be a password box hiding behind the open window. This one happens often on our school network.

    I think that one of the techniques I try to remember is to ask my children to slow down and think. Sometimes we are in such a hurry that we just panic rather than thinking first.

    Another thing I try to encourage is being able to describe what is wrong rather that “The computer doesn’t work.” Along with that is encouraging them to read the error message they might get. Unfortunately sometimes the error messages are so hard to understand that this is useless. Some of my students are very quick to click the “red box with an x” without stopping to think first.

    May I print out your poster to share with my class?

    regards
    Tracey

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    • August 1, 2011 at 7:06 pm
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      @ Tracey,

      Thanks for your terrific comment. Please feel free to use the poster with your kids.

      I love your tips! Yes, I am often saying to the kids that they need to read the box and think about what they want to press. Kids generally see a box pop up and run to get the teacher. While it is good they’re checking, it is often something simple that they can decide on for themselves. Looking behind the box is another good tip that many adults could take note of too.

      I agree, kids need to learn some basic troubleshooting skills and learn how to articulate what the problem is and think about how they could approach it.

      There is much more time for learning when there is less time spent on troubleshooting!

      Kath

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    • August 1, 2011 at 7:30 pm
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      I couldn’t agree more with your comment Tracey about “My computer won’t work” and trying to get students to articulte better just what isn’t working…. eg: it won’t log on, the screen won’t turn on, I can’t open\save my work etc…

      And yes… I also experience similar conversations with some adults also !

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      • August 1, 2011 at 8:13 pm
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        Incidental teaching about file extensions and “Are you in the right window?” are some others that I meet with my students, Scott.

        I get “My work has disappeared” when they are trying to OPEN a file when they really wanted to INSERT a picture.

        I firmly believe we need to use the terminology right from the start as Kathleen does so well with her Grade 2’s.

        Tracey

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  • August 1, 2011 at 10:45 pm
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    When first introducing computers into schools starting in 1981, maintenance and bug finding was a simple matter. The schools had only one computer and I was the computer geek. Now with so much available, it’s essential children and staff have troubleshooting skills.
    Thanks for the post “Troubleshooting Computer Problems”. The posters are a great way to have info on hand.
    Ross Mannell (teacher)
    southern NSW

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    • August 2, 2011 at 10:53 am
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      @ Ross,

      Nice to hear from you. It’s interesting to hear what computers in schools were like in 1981. I can’t comment as that was the year I was born! 😆

      While I am teaching my students troubleshooting skills, I fear that there are a large proportion of teachers who don’t have the skills themselves to guide their students. I hope that changes with time.

      Thanks for your comment,
      Kathleen

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  • August 2, 2011 at 3:04 pm
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    Sounds like a great chance to integrate PBL. Have students brainstorm problems they can become experts at solving for other people and they could create the posters.
    What would they investigate on this topic…are there other things where they could become troubleshooters?
    Gosh…so many questions.
    Thanks for the idea and poster. I think everyone can use this kind of poster because these are the questions that are asked over and over and over again.

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    • August 2, 2011 at 8:56 pm
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      @ Marsha, great idea! I’d love to have the kids brainstorm some areas they can help others with sometime.

      Thanks for your comment,
      Kathleen

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  • August 2, 2011 at 5:41 pm
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    I love it! I have one like this in my class as well, when we get back to school I’m going to add a few things to it. Even very young ones can become so ICT literate and having posters like these help so much. I love when parents tell me that their child tried to help them at home to troubleshoot as well. Thanks for the great post, Kathleen.

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    • August 2, 2011 at 8:57 pm
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      @ Heather,

      Since I made that poster I have thought of more and more things to add! 😆

      I know, how good is it when parents tell us their kids are helping out at home? Make me so proud of them!

      Kathleen

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  • August 2, 2011 at 9:10 pm
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    Hi Kathleen,

    The amount of times when walking around the room, I see 9 or 10 browsers open due to impatient clicking!! They definitely are a ‘NOW’ generation!

    Having Grade 3/4, they’re not too bad at being able to sort things out for themselves, and I’m glad they come to me when they also see a pop up, asking for the installation of Flash or Silverlight – at least they’re being cautious!

    I have a couple of pretty tech savvy kids, so depending on what we’re doing, I’ll usually get them to be helpers, so I’m not having to run around to 24 kids with their hands up. My own little version of students as ICT mentors!!

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    • August 3, 2011 at 7:51 am
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      @ Kirby,

      You’re right about the NOW generation. Isn’t it great to be able to use the tech savvy kids as helpers. That’s a good experience for everyone.

      Thanks for commenting,
      Kathleen

      Reply
  • August 3, 2011 at 5:12 am
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    I think your poster would be just as useful to many adults as it would be to your Grade 2 students! 🙂

    Just a quick note on the cartoon (for fairness in attribution): It is originally from the webcomic xkcd at http://xkcd.com/627/

    Reply
    • August 3, 2011 at 7:51 am
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      @ KB, thanks so much for adding that attribution. I couldn’t see it on Kim’s site so I wasn’t sure who to attribute it to!

      Reply
  • August 4, 2011 at 7:47 pm
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    @ Mrs Morris,

    I had a problem before.

    And I used that problem shooting sheet.

    Bye

    Keira in your class

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    • August 5, 2011 at 3:42 pm
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      @ Keira,

      So nice to hear from you. I am glad you liked the poster!

      Your teacher,
      Mrs Morris

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  • August 12, 2011 at 7:17 pm
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    Hi Kathleen,

    Love the Poster, I’ll now need to make one to suit our macbooks! I also have a computer rules sticker on each computer in my classroom, about logging in, saving work and not changing desktop backgrounds etc!

    Like Kirby, I also use student helpers when I have computer groups, someone volunteers to be ‘tech support’ and the group needs to see them first before disturbing me – as I am with a reading group.

    And if all else fails and the server/internet/wireless is down, I have a folder on the desktop of each computer titled ‘Help! The Internet is down’ and in there are powerpoint presentations and smart notebook activities that the kids can work on without the internet, and they are still literacy based. Most of these I have got from downloadable internet sites.

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    • August 13, 2011 at 11:40 am
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      @ Justine,

      Great to hear from you.

      Yes, good idea making one to suit Macs! Tech Support are quite essential in the classroom to ensure we can spend our time teaching rather than troubleshooting!

      That is a terrific idea to have a folder of things to do on the desktop. I might have to borrow that idea. Thanks!

      Kathleen

      Reply
  • October 2, 2011 at 5:13 am
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    Like Kirby, I also use student helpers when I have computer groups, someone volunteers to be ‘tech support’ and the group needs to see them first before disturbing me – as I am with a reading group. thanks

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  • February 9, 2014 at 10:46 pm
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    Great way to teach students valuable life skills. Learning computer troubleshooting helps people with much more than just the odd computer issue. People learn how to track down the source of other problems they encounter in real life and become more efficient and proactive in solving problems they find as they develop a structure approach.

    Reply
    • February 10, 2014 at 10:56 am
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      Very true, Guy. Thanks for commenting!

      Reply

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