Providing technical support for teachers is always a challenge. Technical support is usually on demand. Teachers and administrators need information and support at a point in time for specific items or issues. Our district has many applications to gather information and support professional development. Teachers and administrators often get confused about the different resources and applications. Many of these applications are not used regularly because of the nature of the resource or application. The user often forgets how to use the resource.
Technology in our district level is divided into three areas. One area provides all the hardware and network support. This also includes the installation and update of operating systems and software. The department I work in, focuses on supporting learning and integration of technology within the curriculum. This extends to supporting almost all computer based software, operating systems and online applications. The third area is that provided by Campus Technologists. The brunt of on demand support is handled by Campus Technologists. They are also the focus of most of our professional development.
We provide priority professional development for all district approved software. The nature of our job in Instructional Technology requires us to provide professional development in a variety of venues. This often takes us out of the office and out of immediate contact with those that need support. With the growing number of supported applications in the district it often is difficult for even the most seasoned campus technologist to keep up with the necessary knowledge and skills. We also face these challenges within our own department.
We spend hours learning and becoming proficient with a variety of software and web-based applications. We take this training and develop professional development for all district employees. Professional development often comes in a variety of levels. Much of it is provided in forty-five minute blocks at the campus level, and the rest of it is provided in two or four-hour chunks. While this professional development meets the needs of teachers, administrators and campus technologists, we often find that information and knowledge gaps form. This happens because few go back and practice the skills we just imparted. Teachers and administrators are often overwhelmed with other priorities. Technology resources are often support items that orbit around central priority items of teaching and administering a campus. Few technology resources and applications are often used on a daily basis.
To meet the needs of on demand technical support we have developed a QuickSupport support site. The focus of this site is to provide brief information in easy to follow steps. These steps are often supported with screen captures. The site is built on WordPress, which helps us in two very important aspects. The established blog format is easy to use, post and update. From the user perspective it is easy for them to search and browse. Most importantly it integrates seamlessly with software that helps us develop these instructions.
We use a software called ScreenSteps by bluemangolearning.com. The software allows us to take screen captures, annotate those images, add descriptive information and steps. Campus Technologists and teachers can search and read the step by step instructions on the blog. We also provide an option for them to download a PDF version. Some teachers and Campus Technologists like to generate environmental print. This PDF version is also generated by ScreenSteps software. As an additional option we offer our QuickSupport in an EPUB format for e-book readers. In this way teachers and campus technologists can access our instructions in a variety of formats that meet their needs. We have found that our end users like and appreciate that we have this information in easily accessible formats.