IT's Best Intentions

IT’s Best Intentions

 

Lisa Fratt

If something can go wrong, it will. As these humorous vignettes from K–12 IT administrators show, Murphy’s law is alive and well inside our nation’s classrooms.

If something can go wrong, it will. As these humorous vignettes from K–12 IT administrators show, Murphy’s law is alive and well inside our nation’s classrooms.

Retired California educator Kerry Johnson reminds his colleagues to ask the easy questions first. Johnson recalls a teacher’s plea for help with a malfunctioning external disk drive. Hoping to avoid the long trek to the teacher’s classroom, Johnson followed standard tech procedures, asking questions to narrow the problem: “Are you sure it’s plugged in? Are you sure there is a disk in the drive?”

After running out of questions, the flummoxed Johnson finally asked the teacher why she thought the drive wasn’t working. The answer? “Because when I turned on the computer, black smoke erupted from the drive.” The call concluded and Johnson made a personal visit.

Any tech director battling malicious code may long for the good ol’ days before viruses existed. “What good ol’ days?” asks John McSweeney, Cabot (Vt.) School technologist. McSweeney faced a treacherous foe in 1993 after a sixth-grader inserted a floppy disk coated with orange juice into a drive. After removing the unreadable disc, McSweeney found that the virus had mutated and replicated. The student had tried the floppy on several systems, gumming up their drives. Meanwhile, other students had arrived and inserted their clean floppies into the “infected” drives. The cycle continued while McSweeney frantically pulled plugs on all the machines to stop the spread of the dreaded orange juice virus.

In-service training often requires teachers to mirror the presenter. During a recent presentation in Georgetown, Maine, two teachers sitting in the back row seemed to be determined to disrupt the class. Hoping to avert chaos with a bit of classroom management, the savvy presenter asked the pair to share their concerns with the class. One replied, “My computer is frozen.” The other responded, “My mouse isn’t working correctly. I’m moving it in one direction and the arrow goes in a completely different direction.”

The troublesome pair was instructed to restart their machines and follow along visually until the computers were up and running. But as soon as the machines restarted, the teachers continued their disruptive ways. The presenter asked the teachers to move to different computers. They complied — and reported the same problems. Finally, intrepid Technology Coordinator Lawrence Bean ventured to the back of the room, where he quickly discovered the problem: Both teachers were left-handed.

Apr 03 2008

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