Is what you say, what you mean? December 30, 2012Posted by IaninSheffield in Musings.
Tags: IT Support, tech support
One of the many reasons I enjoy my job is the variety of tasks with which I am presented: practical and cerebral, creative and analytical, technical and social. One moment I might be wrestling with a strategy document and the next someone walks into our Support Office with a ‘problem.’
Although I enjoy the comradeship of two competent technical colleagues, sometimes resolving an issue falls to me and I’ve come to realise that sorting technical problems requires a skill not commonly associated with ICT Support – translation. Although some of my colleagues and many of our students have English as an additional language, that’s not the source of misunderstanding. No, instead my interpretative skills have required development along a different track entirely – that of translating “What I say” into “What I mean.” For example when someone comes into the office and says “This computer/laptop won’t let me log on,” they don’t mean that the computer is steadfastly refusing them access in an anthropomorphic way, they invariably mean that they’re forgotten or mistyped their username or password.
In case you’re in the position of providing technical support … and if you ever signed up for, or were volunteered as, the ICT Co-ordinator, you’ll often be the ‘go to’ person, this brief list might give you a head start:
|1||The printer’s not working||I didn’t choose the right printer from the list available and now my printout’s gone to another printer somewhere else in school|
|2||My laptop screen’s gone black||In haste, I pressed the Fn+f5 key twice and the output is only going to the projector|
|3||The IWB isn’t interactive||I haven’t plugged in the USB cable|
|4||The sound isn’t working||I forgot that I muted the sound from my laptop yesterday|
|5||The computer screen’s gone black||I twisted the monitor to the side to show someone something and it dislodged the power cable|
|6||My laptop keyboard’s stopped working||I spilt my coffee on it yesterday|
|7||My laptop screen’s gone big||I was running an application from CD designed in the Windows 95 era which reset my screen resolution to 800 x 640|
|8||This PowerPoint won’t open||It’s got 27 x 9Mb image files in and I’m not patient enough for it to completely open|
|9||The wireless network in this room is rubbish||I accidentally slid the wireless switch off as I was opening the laptop lid|
|10||I can’t get the Internet||Had my laptop at home last night and forgot to switch my LAN settings back for school|
Those of you in the position of providing resolutions for these issues on a regular basis will doubtless also recognise that items 1 – 5 might have been equally well translated as ‘I didn’t switch the xxxx on.’ Incidentally, if you have any translations you have made, do share them in the Rosetta Stone that is the comments below.
Although said tongue in cheek, these statements perhaps illustrate a couple of points. First that we’re often quick to blame the technology, when in actual fact it was something we did … or didn’t do. And if we begin to unpack why we do that, there’s probably a host of reasons, whether we’re a supposedly net-savvy 15 year old with a rep for tech, or have a PhD and have been teaching for some 20 years. Secondly it’s interesting that because there is someone to whom people can turn for ICT support, they do … perhaps too early? What happens if the ‘sound stops working’ at home, or the iron doesn’t warm up? Do we try and resolve it ourselves or do we ask someone else? Faced with a problem, how persistent, resilient and flexible are we? Or is it that the range, apparent complexity and constantly evolving nature of technologies is daunting to people who then feel they can’t keep up. Or are our skill sets becoming so narrow that we feel uneasy stepping outside our comfort zone? Is this a technological issue, or psychological or social?
And am I just saying that, or is that what I mean? But more to the point, what do you think?