Tag Archives: technical issues

Create a Shared Student Folder on your Server

Teachers need to be flexible! They must adjust their lessons based on their students’ needs. In addition, they need to capitalize on their students’ unique interests. To do this, they need a shared student folder on the server.

What is a shared student folder?

Many schools have a server that is used for file management. Typically, teachers and students have folders on the server where they save their work. Permissions are used to control who can view or change the contents of the folders. In most cases, students can only access their own folder, whereas teachers can access folders for students in their class or sometimes the entire school.

folder with documents

Have your IT Specialist create a shared student folder on your server.

For teachers to share files with students, they often have to copy and paste a document into EACH student folder. This can be VERY time consuming and is often not feasible if the teacher has multiple classes. The solution is to have a shared student folder.

A shared student folder is a location on the server where teachers can place files. All the students in a particular class or sometimes the entire student body can “read” or open the files in this folder. The files are then viewed or resaved by students into their own folder.

Do you need a shared student folder?

Of course you do!
Not everything can be PLANNED at the beginning of the school year. Spontaneity is part of teaching!

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Have you ever stumbled across an informative website you know would be perfect for a particular group of students working on a research project? Can you easily share a bookmark?
  • Have you ever realized that some of your students are struggling to complete a task? Are you able to easily share a template that will help them complete their work?
  • Have you ever noticed that some of your students are not paying attention or require a review? Are you able to develop a “pop quiz” that can be easily accessed by everyone in the class?
  • Have you ever noted that some of your students are struggling with learning a concept? Are you able to create a sample file or instructional video that can easily be viewed by all students?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, then you need a shared student folder on the server.

What can you do with a shared student folder?

There are many types of files you might want to share:

  • bookmark to a website or online educational video
  • template that offers a starting point for completing a task
  • digital assessment tools such as a checklist, review, or quiz
  • sample of a completed project that students can review to get ideas
  • instructional video that demonstrates the steps to complete a task

Be flexible! Be spontaneous! Improve student learning!

If you don’t have a shared student folder you should request that your IT Specialist create one for you. It is easy for the technician to do and will make a huge difference when you are teaching.

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.

Don’t Throw it Out! Salvage Parts to Repair Computer Equipment

Storage Cart of Computer Parts

Store salvaged computer parts in clear plastic bins.

Don’t throw it out! You can extend your IT budget by salvaging components from old computers. These parts can be used to repair other equipment, saving you from having to make a new purchase.

I regularly repair computers using hardware from other machines. When a machine is no longer useable I will remove the network, video, and sound cards, as well as any RAM. These parts commonly fail and can easily be used to fix other equipment. The extra RAM especially comes in handy when I need to upgrade the memory on a donated computer.

I have a simple system for keeping everything organized. It is a portable clear plastic shelving unit. It has three drawers that are see-through. In each drawer I organize the hardware. To make it easier for me to find things I have labeled the drawers. (I love my labeler!)

I don’t keep motherboards, computer cases, or cd drives. Those parts I usually throw out. I only keep the good stuff!

Do you Salvage Computer Parts?

Am I the only one that saves old computer parts? Let me know if you also fix computers using salvaged parts? What is the downside to making a repair with used computer parts?

Technology Gremlins Do Not Take a Vacation

It was quite nice to have two entire weeks off – no early morning alarm clocks, no traffic, and most importantly, no work! However, as I was soon to learn, there is a major price to pay for that break. Even though I took some time away from the school, the technology gremlins did not.

troubleshooting technology issues at a school

While I was away, the technology gremlins played.

My plan was to go into work early on Monday to get a jump start on the day. I knew that the Grade 3/4 class was beginning the Internet technology project, TechnoJourney and I had promised the teacher that I would print the student workbooks. I arrive at 8 a.m. with my flash drive in hand and laptop ready. I send the required pages to the photocopier. No problem!

NOTE: TechnoJourney was replaced with TechnoInternet. The activities are similar.

Then, problem…the office staff is back and they can’t get their email.
The Internet is down.

OH NO! I head over to the proxy server and am welcomed with a machine that is totally frozen, offers no response, a blue screen, and no logon box…hmmm. I decide to force a restart. The bad news is the Windows why did you shut this machine down dialog box will not appear. Instead my blue screen is now black. It has a message that says something about the master boot record and that I must press F1 to continue. I hold my breath, press F1, and the good news is that after a few moments the server comes back online.

PHEW! I sigh too soon. A short time later, the secretary is at the door. “Happy New Year, I cannot get to the staff directory”. Another problem…
Seems there are now issues with the network.

My troubleshooting senses are tingling. It has to be something to do with the network switches. I stare at the rack of spaghetti-like cables coming out of 4 switches mounted beautifully on the wall. AHA! One of the switches has no lights. I wonder if we’ve blown another switch. Wishing that this isn’t the cause of the problem, I reach out my hand and fiddle with the power cords hoping that this simple solution will work instead. It does! VOILA! The lights are back on.

The feeling of success is short lived. I turn around to welcome a school volunteer. She greets me with “Happy New Year, our debit machine isn’t working”. Another problem…
The fundraiser ladies are eager to sell gift cards, but the machine won’t connect.

The Christmas cobwebs are all gone now, as my brain goes into overdrive trying to figure out this new dilemma. I recall a network line was recently dropped so that the debit machine could connect to the Internet for speedy transactions. I put in a quick call to the guy who dropped the line. Seems he’s not sure if a cable for that line has been connected. OH NO! I frantically scan the mess of spaghetti-like wires on the rack. I find the dedicated port for the debit machine and a free spot on the switch and quickly plug in a new cable. Everything is now fixed. GREAT!

As I turn around a teacher is standing at the door. “Happy New Year,” I say. “Happy New Year, I can’t print,” he replies. What! Another problem…
The main printer isn’t working.

UGH! Before the Christmas break the printer was out of toner. To save print jobs from coming out invisible, I decided to turn off the printer. My plan was to have the print jobs stay in the queue on the server and in a day or two when the toner arrived, I’d turn it back on and we’d be back in business. However, this was not the case. After installing the new toner, the printer insisted it wanted to stay offline. Puzzled, I rush over to the server and glare at the printer properties. I start troubleshooting. Is it the Print Spooler, outdated drivers, firmware, or do I need a new patch cable?

NOPE! Perplexed, I turn to Google for answers but I could not find anyone with my exact problem. Back to the server. After staring at the printer properties for the umpteenth time I notice that there are TWO devices assigned to the IP address for the printer. HUH? I have no time to ponder how this happened. Instead, I leave the assigned IP on the printer and reassign the second device a new IP address. Now the teachers are back in business. They can print!

I feel like I’ve put in a full day and it is only 8:45! What can the rest of the day bring? Those technology gremlins better take a vacation soon – or else I am going to need another one!