On Tuesday night I received a phone call from a friend’s father asking if I could come over and take a look at his computer; it wasn’t booting up right and he didn’t know what to do at this point. He’s a very nice man and has asked me for help on occasion because he’s unsure when it comes to working with his computer. Here’s the thing, he really wants to know and understand what happened, explaining all the possibilities are mind boggling and becomes a little overwhelming for him. Turns out he got a virus from somewhere, somehow. It’s not terribly malicious, but it’s certainly not going away without some major time. The good news, he has everything backed up and, after hearing a variety of solutions, has decided that he just wants a clean start so we’ll be reinstalling Windows this weekend.
Here’s the point of all of this, he was going to take his computer in to a service shop but he doesn’t trust them. He doesn’t mind paying for the service (I, however, won’t charge him for my help) but he’s heard about shops taking information off of computers and charging exorbitant amounts for a simple fix. I feel for him and the thousands of people who take their computers into the big box stores because something doesn’t work right. They need their computer to work and, if they don’t know what’s wrong, can fall victim to this kind of extortion or, in some cases, down right laziness on the part of the tech who simply wipes their hard drive. Yes there’s a business there, but at the same time. $50 to install a stick of RAM is out of line.
The average person doesn’t necessarily need to know about how to troubleshoot a problem, but I do think that a basic knowledge is important in our technological age. I think this is especially true of teachers who need their computers in their classrooms. In my previous district it would take approximately 5-8 days for the tech to get there to fix a problem. How can that teacher be expected to use technology on a regular basis? The answer, of course, is that they can’t.
Do we need to help teachers learn how to troubleshoot? To a certain extent, I think we do. I’d love to teach myself out of a job, but I don’t see that as a reality any time soon.