Three Steps for Managing Technical Issues in the Computer Lab

managing technical issues in the computer lab

Technical issues can derail a lesson in the computer lab.

When a math teacher tells students to turn to page 32 in the textbook, there is confidence that the content will be the same in every book, the page will not be missing, and the questions will not disappear half way through the lesson. Unfortunately, the computer teacher cannot operate with that same level of confidence. This is because often there are technical issues when teaching lessons that use the computer.

In the ideal world, there would never be any computer-related problems. The machines would always work properly, programs would not freeze, and the network would never crash. However, since this is not the case, it is a good idea to be prepared.

Troubleshooting Process

When a problem occurs, follow a three-step process to manage the issue:

  1. Step 1: Move the Student and Continue to Teach
    If you are in the middle of teaching when the issue occurs, you should not stop the lesson to fix the problem. This is because the other students will become off-task while you are busy working on the computer. In addition, you will waste valuable instructional time repairing the computer instead of teaching the students. It is better to move the student with the broken computer to another machine or have them pair up with a partner. Once they are situated, you should continue the lesson. When you are finished teaching and your students are busy working on an assigned task, you can then study the problem in more detail.
  2. Step 2: Log Information about the Problem
    Your immediate response to the problem might be to restart the computer, as often this action will temporarily resolve the issue. You must resist the urge to seek a “quick fix.” Although restarting may solve the problem temporarily, it is a good idea to log the problem first. This is because computer related problems tend to be intermittent. This makes them particularly difficult to solve. For this reason, take a minute to record details about the problem. Record the computer number or other identifier, program the student was using, action the student was initiating, and the error message on the screen. This information will help to troubleshoot the problem later.
  3. Step 3: Troubleshoot the Problem
    Even if you have limited computer knowledge, there are simple steps you can take to try to repair the computer. For example, it is a good idea to check for power or loose cables and then restart the machine. If you know a bit more about the computer, you may also want to conduct a virus scan, run disk defragmenter, and check for Windows updates. If you have an advanced skill set, you can research the error message using the Internet, check for software and driver updates, inspect for recently installed programs or updates, study the computer hard drive to determine if storage space is limited, or look at the amount of RAM to see if there is a memory problem. Once you have exhausted this list, you will need to contact a technician.

About TechnoLaurie

Laurie Gerard, Research and Development - Laurie Gerard is responsible for the research and development center at John Knox Christian School (JKCS). Many years ago, TechnoKids Inc. formed a partnership with the school community to have teachers test our instructional materials. This relationship ensures that the projects are developmentally appropriate, meaningful to students, integrate into the curriculum, and have clear instructions. Laurie works with the staff and students at JKCS to help them operate their technology program. Her duties include curriculum support, computer lab maintenance, and upkeep of the network and server. As a key member of the Information Technology Committee at the school she provides advice regarding the technology program. Her devotion to the school community and their technology program makes her an invaluable member to our team. Laurie's contribution to the blog includes entries about the challenges of integrating technology in a school environment. The technical issues she overcomes related to hardware, software, and networking will be passed on to you in the form of practical strategies. In addition, she writes about the real-world problems faced by a school as they struggle to offer a quality technology program with a limited budget.