Thursday, January 2, 2014

Teaching trouble-shooting skills

I recently had my middle school students work on an internet scavenger hunt. They were given a paper with three websites and three questions that they had to answer based on the information they found on these websites.

 First, I was amazed with how many of them did not know how to type in a web address. They would type in half of the address and then raise their hands up in the air in despair and say "it's broken", "it doesn't work". I went around and checked what they were doing, and sure enough, they had not typed in all of the web address or typed it in incorrectly. How is that these students did not know how to fix the problem? Well, it seems that they are use to being given web addresses in hyperlinked form and did not have the experience of having to type it in.

Second, I've seem the students enlarge or decrease the screen and not know how to restore it. How is this possible? Well, many of them spend more time working on tablets than they do on pc's.

Third, I had one student forget his email password and again, raise his hands up in the air and not know what to do. I politely suggested he find a way to solve the problem. He starred at the screen and after a few moments he had no idea what to do. I then suggested he click on the forgot my password option and follow to the prompts. I asked him if he had ever used that password retrieval process, and he said no. He said his parents don't let him access any social media and he doesn't use a computer at home.

I find all these problems both troubling and interesting. 21st generation students doesn't necessarily mean that they are proficient in working with all media types. Their proficiency highly depends on their exposure to various types of internet and computer activities. Parents that are overly protecting their kids from technology are also harming their skill development. As teachers, we need to not only teach them how to trouble-shoot tech problems, but also teach them how to be critical thinkers and find the solutions for themselves.

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