What’s in a word?

Have you ever felt as if your faculty  and the Tech Department speak a different language? Nothing is more frustrating when you need technical assistance and you feel like you get more questions than answers.  However, can you really blame the tech department for being confused?  A common basic vocabulary will assist the tech department’s ability to assist you more promtply without having to pass back the volley of clarifying emails.  I don’t know about you, but with work orders stating, “I need a new blue thingy for my whatchamacallit,” and “My Elmo is broken. I can’t see a thing,” and “My computer isn’t on,” it’s no wonder the confusion exists.

Ask Amy1

Let’s examine each of these work order for potential common vocabulary:

Example 1: “I need a new blue thingy for my whatchamacallit.”

blue thingy = network cable.  I hate to tell you folks but network cables come in a variety of colors and sizes.  Be more specific.  Is you network cable broken, too short? And Why? Did you check both ends of the network cable to ensure it is securely inserted into the port (hole in the wall that connects to the internet) and the device being used? If you’ve done this share that with the tech department as well to avoid being told to do just that in a follow up email.  Believe it or not they can’t see in your classrooms through your webcams.

Whatchamacallit? is this a desktop, laptop, multimedia cart, tablet, etc.  Please don’t ask your technicians to become mind readers.  The 4-man and a lady team are responsible for 1900+ devices in this district, we need to be more informative.  There is never too much information when it comes to getting the tech assistance you need, unless you are sharing what you had for lunch and not offering them a slice to thank them for assisting your with your technology glitches.

example #2: “My Elmo is broken. I can’t see a thing.”

Elmo is a short, furry Sesame character.  He is not the device you are using.  The device you are using is a document camera(and in our district we don’t use the Elmo brand) Do you run around saying I have to get a new pair of Nikes, Converse, or Reeboks or do you say I have to get a new pair of sneakers, kicks, or shoes?

What don’t you see?  Can you see a blue screen on your LCD projector display?  Will the projector not project? Are you not able to get power to your document camera or the LCD projector? The more specific you are when you turn in a request to the troubledesk the less likely you are to be stuck in a seesaw of emails going back and forth to relay and ascertain more pertinent data to solve the problem.

Example #3: “My computer isn’t on.”

If I had a nickel for every person who sends an email to a tech department that reads like this I am sure I would be quite well off.  If you don’t want an email stating, “Did you turn it on?” perhaps you should give the recipient of your email a little more detail.  First tell them what building and classroom this device can be found in.  Then tell them exactly what “not on” means.  Is your screen not powering up?  Do you have an image projecting on the LCD projector but not on your monitor? Did you check your power cords, network cable, and power buttons on the tower and the monitor?


To avoid troubleshooting sessions that sound like this year’s Best Buy Bowl commercial, be clear, be specific, and use a common vocabulary.


About bulldogtechteach

I am a technology integrator serving in a k-1 and a 2-5 elementary building. I firmly believe in the power of technology to engage students and allow them to create and master their learning.
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