Student Tech Issues? Teach These Before Giving Online Assignments.

Student tech issues can be avoided if you tech these things before giving independent tasks to your stufdents.

Now that you realize the myths behind teaching tech explicitly, I am going to share with you what tech needs to be taught to avoid student tech issues. Spoiler alert: the answer is all of it.

Okay, okay, you know I’m not letting a blog post be that short so let me elaborate for you. Any tech you plan on having students complete tasks with needs to be explicitly taught. I’m not saying spend a week on one app – you might have to, but don’t let it consume your lessons. Here is a list of things I teach to my students before giving them independent tasks to complete with it.

#1: Google Classroom (or whatever learning management system you’re using)

For the sake of this post, I’m going to use Google Classroom as my ultimate example, but if you’re using another LMS, feel free to substitute!

You might think that Google Classroom is straight forward, and for you – a teacher – who’s been using it consistently, it is! To a student there are a lot of moving parts that can be quite overwhelming. Things you want to teach your students about Google Classroom are:

  • Locating assignments
  • Turning in assignments
  • Attaching work to assignments
  • How the assignments are organized
  • Contacting you if they have a question
  • Where they get assignment feedback
  • Where to find reference charts (if you have a topic on that!)

That’s a lot of moving parts, don’t you think? If you don’t answer these questions before you start using the system, they will come out eventually. If you don’t want to take class time to do this, pre-record yourself answering all these questions. Create a topic in Google Classroom called “FAQs” and show students that they can go there to get any questions answered they need. If you want a premade student guide for Google apps, this is what you want!

#2: Apps You Plan to Use

If there is an app you use, teach it. Don’t teach them all at once, but every other week introduce a new app or a new feature to your class to help them be more efficient with the tech. Here is what I teach my students explicitly:

  • Google Slides
  • Nearpod
  • Flipgrid
  • Other Google Apps: Sites, Docs, Drawings, and Jamboard

I do not teach all of these at once. Let me repeat – I DO NOT TEACH ALL OF THESE AT ONCE. Sorry for the caps, I just had to emphasize that. 

I start with what they are going to use most – the classroom Google Site. Once they are comfortable navigating that, I teach them all about Google Slides, Jamboard and Drawings. These have similar features, so it’s okay to teach them together. During distance learning I use Jamboard a lot for collaboration, so it’s essential I teach it sooner rather than later. 

Once you’re done teaching them about the Google Apps, create mini-tutorials and anticipate any troubleshooting questions. I store these tutorials on my Google Site for the class and show them exactly where to find the videos. You can store them in Google Classroom or on your class’s Google Site. This part is time consuming in the beginning, but future you will thank you.

After the essentials are taught to students (about 2 ½ months into the school year) you can introduce the fun stuff! Teach them about a new website every week or 2, depending on your students ages. Here are some websites I like to use.  

#3: “Basic” Computer Commands

The word basic is in quotes for this subheading because to us these are basic commands – undo, redo, copy, paste, etc., but for students this is a whole new trick for them! Here is a list of commands to teach your students from day 1 to avoid student tech issues:

  • Undo/Redo
  • Copy/Paste
  • Save
  • Open
  • Create a new [document. Slide deck, drawing, etc.]
  • Formatting options (and what formatting means!)

These “basic” computer commands we use regularly, why can’t we show them to our students? Someone taught us about these awesome tricks so we should teach them to our students, too. Don’t forget to teach students the golden rule of technology – when in doubt, turn it off and then on again! 😅

Grab a free keyboard commands reference chart for your students here!

Now that you know what you have to teach to avoid student tech issues, think about how you can incorporate teaching these skills into your curriculum. You can have students teach the class and create a Google Slide to do that. Have students create a poster of what it means to be kind on Google Drawings. Give students an opportunity to share a fun fact about themselves in under a minute using Flipgrid. 

There is a way you can incorporate students learning about the tech into your curriculum without sacrificing too much of your time and spending hours troubleshooting with them!

This blog post has tons of links for you, here is the breakdown:

As always, thank you for stopping by! 


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