No, you don't need a new computer. Try this first.
The Number One reason—according to students—why their computer doesn’t work is… It’s broken. As a teacher, I hear this daily, often followed by their preferred solution, “I need a different computer.” My students innately think computer problems are something they can’t solve. I asked them what happened in class when I wasn’t there to ﬁx the problem, or at home. I usually got a shrug and one of these responses:
“My classroom teacher can’t ﬁx them.”
"My mom/dad can't fix them."
"The school tech people couldn't get there fast enough."
Which got me thinking about how these problems that bring learning to a screeching halt really aren’t that complicated. They don’t require a Ph.D in engineering or years of experience in IT. So why not teach kids how to troubleshoot their own problems?
I started with a list. Every time a student had a tech problem, I wrote it down and then ticked it off each time it happened. It didn’t take long to determine that there are about 16 problems that happen often and repetitively. Once students learned how to solve these, they’d be able to ﬁx half of the problems that bring their education to a screeching halt. I spent the school year teaching the solutions authentically as they arose starting in kindergarten. By the end of second grade, students felt empowered. By the end of ﬁfth grade, they rarely asked for help.
Here’s my list but yours may be different. Include those that arise in your school’s educational endeavor. For example, if you use Macs, right- click issues won’t be as big a deal.
Once students have these in their toolkit, they realize they can solve their own problems, they can troubleshoot, and they can act independently.
Not only does this impact how they use technology but every other part of their lives.
16 Simple Tech Solutions
- The starting point for many problems
Turn the computer off and then on; close down and reopen the internet; turn the modem or printer off and then on.
- The website doesn’t work
Check to be sure the URL is entered correctly, not missing letters or the HTTP. If that doesn’t work, change browsers.
- I can’t exit a program
The universal exit command for Windows-based computers is Alt-F4.
- I can’t ﬁnd a program
Type the name in the Search ﬁeld. Most MS and HS students prefer this to ﬁnding the program other ways.
- ____ doesn’t work
This could be the mouse, the keyboard, the monitor, speakers, or some other piece of hardware. Make sure it’s plugged in and turned on. If it is, unplug-replug.
- Sound doesn’t work
Is it muted? Are headphones plugged in (which means the sound is going into them, not your speakers)? For little ones, do they have the right headphones on?
- I deleted ____
If it’s part of a document, use Ctrl+Z to Undo. If it’s a ﬁle, check the recycle bin and restore if it’s in there.
- The font is too small
Zoom with Ctrl+ (or Ctrl- to zoom out).
- I can’t ﬁnd ____ in the ﬁle
The universal Find shortkey is Ctrl+F. This works not only in documents but online.
- The document is ‘read-only’
Save-as under a different name and edit.
- I’m worried about security
This is a massive topic but two solutions that work for even kids K-5 is to 1) cover the webcam, and 2) put smartphones in airplane mode (to cut access to the Internet)
- The program froze
Is there a dialogue box open that’s waiting for an answer?
- The Shift key doesn’t work
Is caps lock on?
- Double-click doesn’t work
Push enter after the ﬁrst click.
- I can’t remember how to ____
Right-click. This reveals the most common actions for the context you are in.
- The Internet toolbar disappeared