Technical difficulties.

cartoon computer

How does your district/school handle IT? How does it introduce new software, push out changes, or communicate a change of protocols or access? My district is huge, and its tech department world-class. The idea of the IT folks sitting in a cluttered, coffee-stained office is out of date, although it still makes me giggle:

My own encounters with tech support have been mostly, by my own account, completely humble and respectful. These are the women and men who get things DONE, and it’s best not to  display any emotion less than humility. I confess, however, my instructional strategies have been a bit frazzled of late, because cornerstones of my teaching have had changes in registration protocols that I was unaware of, and cause some loss of instructional time, and instructional planning time. Loss of any time is a teaching sin. (These are superlative reading sites, and I urge you to take a look for yourself: Actively Learn and NewsELA.) I know things will be fixed (they weren’t broken in the first place, but now that they are, will be right again–soon I hope).

The issue came about when three programs: NewsELA, Actively Learn, and a pilot program of Canvas (but this is a separate issue) went in control of my district. Supposedly they always were in control, but I had access via my own email accounts, etc.) I spent hours creating and setting up classes, and then those classes ‘disappeared’ the other day. Of course they didn’t really disappear, because with computers there is no ghost in the machine, only humans, doing human things. I contacted customer service/IT about Actively Learn first, and after a week’s worth of e-mails, and going up the chain of command, the mystery was solved: they didn’t have my correct e-mail (even though it’s accessible via my district), and once they registered me, took away all of my original classes, reloaded them (or whatever the technical term is–glowing button?) into my roster sets. The only issue now is my roster sets are not the same as my actual class rosters, so I’ll have to do a work-around every time I assign reading.

My doggedness is driven by the fact I LOVE these programs, especially Actively Learn. NewsELA is also fantastic for Lexile-leveled informational and timely news articles, perfect for pairing with fictional texts. Students can read at their Lexile level, and push up the level when they, or you, think they need to step just outside of that zone…you know…that zone of proximal development we hear so much about (even though it’s about 100 years old–just because something is ‘old’ doesn’t mean it’s bad).

The Canvas pilot will also be fixed too–as it stands, I and another teacher share our rosters on closed sites, meaning, if she ‘publishes’ her Cavans class the announcement and access will go to my students, too, and at this point if I confuse the little chipmunks anymore with log-ins and class codes they will surely have a much-deserved meltdown. She is so enthusiastic about Canvas, I can feel my metaphorical arms getting shaky by trying to reign her in.

We are a Microsoft-based campus, and going to Google Classroom is not an option. The choice of products and services isn’t one I have a voice in, nor do I have a voice in sharing what I’m a master in with technology: digital writing and publishing. However, I have an idea of how to present this to my colleagues during PLCs, so our little enclave will bounce ideas back and forth on how to share writing/text ideas. I am fortunate to have a new colleague in my PLC group who completely gets me when it comes to my love of engaging technology–we may be PC and Mac, but we’re still friends:



He was the one who showed me the new powers of what PDFs can do after a Google Docs fiasco. (It shall forever be known as the Great Emoji Purple Pen Hack of ’15.)

So: onward! I’d like to know who are your ‘go-to’s’ when it comes to tech support–not just at a district level, but your own local PLNs, your friend down the hall, or colleague cross town. I hope folks consider me a go-to, too. I know where the glowing button is.