Valuable Guidelines to Managing Technical Difficulties

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How common are refrains about computer glitches causing delays? Pretty common. Unfortunately, even a small malfunction can mess up an aspect of an online course.

Technical difficulties are inevitable in an e-learning environment. While technology is advanced and many people are comfortable using it, problems always arise. Therefore, it is wise to put in place preventative measures which will minimize the disturbances as well as create a plan for when things go wrong.

Here are some strategies for professors and students to help them cope with technical snags in an online course.

Glitch on the professor’s end:

  1. Contact IT. Have IT’s number available in order to contact it ASAP.
  2. Have a master email list. It is important to let students know if your computer or the Learning Management System (LMS) is experiencing a technical problem. Be sure to have a master e-mail list in order to contact the students in a way other than through the LMS.
  3. Check your email regularly in case students have or flag a technical difficulty.
  4. Understand school policy. If a student contacts you because of a tech failure on his end, be knowledgeable regarding official procedures. There might already be an established policy in place for exemptions due to computer glitches.
  5. Try to help. While directing students to IT for tech support, stop to consider if the technical difficulty may be coming from your end. Review the course’s settings and see if any were accidentally changed making it difficult for students to submit their work.
  6. Read between the lines. If a student keeps on having tech problems, there may be a larger tech issue at a hand. Direct him to receive proper training. This will make the course load more manageable for him as well as provide him with important, long term skills.

Glitch on the student’s end:

  1. Contact IT. Have IT’s number available in order to contact it ASAP.
  2. If something goes wrong, alert the professor immediately. Not only is it the responsible thing to do, but it keeps the professor in the loop in case the tech problem takes a while to resolve.
  3. If the professor gives you his phone number, store it someplace other than online. You may want to use it precisely when you are unable to access the online course.
  4. Print out the syllabus. This will enable you to continue with class readings, even if the internet is down.
  5. Have back up files. Do not type directly into the response box. Rather, compose your answers in Word where they they can be saved. Copy and paste the assignment, or submit it as an attachment. That way, even if there is a glitch in the LMS, your work is still safe.
  6. Check your computer settings to make sure everything is order. This includes things like browser settings, Plug-ins, screen settings, and the internet connection.
  7. Have an alternative location option to do the work. This could be at a neighbor’s, coffee shop, or even a “Free Wifi” public space

What is your strategy to deal with technical difficulties?

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