Thoughts on Life, Art, Photography, Technology, Teaching and Travel…..
I’m a week into teaching art history, photography and multi-media production both online and partially in the classroom (computer lab) and one thing that’s really hit me this week is just how important “problem solving” skills are in this day and age. If you’ve read my blog in the past you know I teach online for many different colleges across North Carolina. Many colleges are upgrading to new, improved course management systems like Moodle or Blackboard 9.1.
Since I already climbed the learning curve with BB 9.1 last semester teaching for Southwestern Community College I thought I was home free this semester, BUT when I starting teaching for Fayetteville Community College on the same version of BB I started encountering problems.
Since I teach photography and art history in the online environment it is imperative that students insert actual images into their various responses to our weekly discussion topics. I started noticing that sometimes pictures would appear and sometimes they wouldn’t including the ones I posted. After some initial frustration I had to go into problem solving mode. After a few days of scrutinizing the glitches I worked through the problem with the help of a few tech savvy students. It then hit me how important problem solving skills are no matter what you do for a living in this digital world we live in. I hear faculty and students say all the time that something with the computer doesn’t work or I can’t get it to do something. I tell them that if you are going to work on computers and software there are always going to be problems to work through and solve. Many times the technical problem is something very small and its just a matter of taking a set back and taking a good hard look at the situation to fix the problem. It may be as easy as hey….”the scanner isn’t working?” I hear that one a lot. Hmmmmmmmm…did you turn it on. Yup! That’s right. You must turn it on to make it work or how about I can’t save my Photoshop image as a JPEG. That’s an easy one to problem solve. Did you flatten the layers? The point here is….computers are pretty logical things and there is usually a solution to most problems if you just slow down and make an effort to work through it instead of freaking out and saying the computer or software is skrewed up.
There is no substitute for experience when it comes to developing your problem solving skills. Since I have taught on Blackboard for 11 years it was just a matter of eliminating the various possibilities of why the images were not showing in the text editor. Part of the problem unfortunately has to do with students using different browsers and how that particular browser handles the Blackboard. It was essentially just a process of elimination and after a few days I now have a work around for the glitch I encountered at the beginning of the week.
So the next time you hit the wall and get totally frustrated because of some glitch or technical problem with your computer, software or the toaster just take a deep breath and analyze the situation and problem solve it in a calm and logical way. Don’t be afraid to call in some technical assistance like I did with me students to help you work through it step by step until you solve whatever issue you are having.