Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The "Hey Joe" technical support line

We are always our own best source of help and technical support. I am not speaking of the royal "we" here, nor do I mean "we" as in us as individuals. I mean we as groups of teachers. I think we need to create a grassroots movement of technical support. Before any of us writes a work order up, or calls someone in the IT department, we often look for someone nearby and ask them "Hey Joe (or Joanne), how do you...." What if we took a more proactive approach to technical support.

When people ask me how do you ________(perform some task on a computer) , now I take a few extra minutes and say to them "I am happy to help you, but can we do this at my desktop computer?" I have downloaded a free program called CamStudio. When I show someone how to do a task (once I have figured it out), we "screencast" it. This is where we make a screen capture video, which we narrate using my computer microphone. Then we save the file on our school server, and upload it to YouTube. Now whether you are at work or at home, you can access the video. Also, if anyone else has the same question, they can see a video on it.

My goal is to inspire other staff members to screencast when they know how to do a task that someone else has asked them about. I haven't had any takers yet, but I have noticed some staff members helping others with computer tasks. I think this is encouraging. I think screencasting is the next step in ongoing professional development in computer education.

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