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How to help solve technical problems in online learning : Educational Technology

Friday 11th September 2020

Raise your hand when teaching from a distance. I wish I could put my arms around you and give this to you greatest hug now. It’s not easy about that. I attended a google meetup this week to do a mini lesson on cyberbullying and I want to tell you that it has tested every tech teacher in my body! I was blown away by the amount of technical issues that were occurring. I had prepared myself for a few issues but got completely thrown into a loop when all the questions came up. It was pure chaos.

All of this is new to me too. I can’t tell you how many interviews I had to turn down and how great the speaking opportunities are because I don’t feel like the right person to give advice on distance learning. I think since I’m known as “The Techie Teacher®” people automatically assume I know how this online learning environment works. I mean i know something But I’ve never had to lead a class completely online. All of my experiences are in the classroom helping teachers and students.


It’s a whole new world.

I did some online lessons in the spring when the world of education was completely turned upside down. However, they were pretty simple. This cyberbullying lesson I tried recently took it even further and still blew me away😂. Because of this, I started thinking about some ways to solve some of the technical problems that the students were facing.



Ideas for alleviating technical problems in online learning

Enrich the glitch

A couple of years ago, Erin’s friend from Erintegration wrote a post entitled: Enrich the glitch in which it provides actionable steps to turn technology problems into teachable moments. She mentioned the importance of speaking your thinking process out loud and modeling the steps you take to troubleshoot it. Simple yet brilliant … right? This is something I would never have thought of, and boy, did I have plenty of opportunities to add students to the glitch! Such a thing could be achieved during real-time video conferencing sessions. We will all run into a technical problem at some point, if not several times a day! Why not talk through it while in front of the camera?


“Can’t see my presentation? Hum … maybe I’ll have to try hitting the Share Screen button at the bottom of the screen again. Let’s see if that works …”

Ask 3 in front of me

Another incredible idea I came across appeared in Edutopia’s post: Solve common problems between teachers and students. There is a section about technical issues that interfere with work. Michigan teacher Jessica Heckman had a twist on “Ask three in front of me“. For distance learning, they could:

  1. Google their problem.
  2. Ask a sibling or adult who is in their home.
  3. FaceTime / Chat with a friend

This would give students time to try other ways of troubleshooting while also alleviating so many questions that are asked of the teacher at the same time.

Counseling center

I know some districts have help desks enabled where parents / students can call or send messages for technical support. This would be very helpful, but I know that it is not generally available for all districts to do this. If your district can swing it Do it! The teachers would be forever grateful.

Digital competence

A common problem I see is that students are not familiar with universal symbols that help us all navigate the digital world. It is important to take the time in the beginning to review key icons like volume / mute, refresh, search, stop, play, etc. so students can take responsibility for troubleshooting if problems arise. I have created various resources to help students become familiar with these symbols that are in mine Technology icons activity pack. A really smart idea for those who teach virtually is to print out some of these important icons that you can quickly grab and hold against your screen when trying to help a student or directing your entire class:


Verizon 5G service

Perhaps the biggest barrier to online learning is having an internet connection at home. For those lucky enough to have access from the comfort of their own home, it can still be a headache to see videos lagging behind or multiple people in a household trying to stream content at the same time. That’s why I’m very happy about a partnership Verizon as they begin expanding their 5G network in Detroit, Chicago and Houston. Verizon is doing everything possible to ensure that the internet at home is powerful enough to support online learning. There’s nothing worse than missing a key piece of a lesson just because your video is lagging behind. Verizon 5G Home Service is the first 5G wireless network to use 5G Ultra Wideband to power everything in a customer’s home. Talk about SUPER FAST! With these speeds, you’ll never have to worry about your home internet connection and multiple people streaming at the same time. The best thing is, it is very easy to install. When it is time for you to relax, enjoy it free Disney + subscription that Verizon offers! Check if it’s available in your area by clicking HERE.

How to help solve technical problems in online learning and ideas for troubleshooting

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