How do I ask for help?

At the faculty development lab in Razran Hall, we sometimes get last minute calls for help just before the first day of class, or during midterms or finals. Sometimes the information in the call is not specific enough for us to be able to begin troubleshooting. It is often difficult to fully articulate an issue when under severe time pressure. (We’re sure you can relate to this: it’s the night before a paper is due and a student sends you a frenzied message.)

Help us help you! Let’s say you contact one of us with “Help! My course isn’t in Blackboard!” You could mean any of the following: you don’t know where to look for the course on the Blackboard home page; you can’t log in to Blackboard at all;  you don’t know how to make the course available to your students so they can see it. You can imagine how clarifying your question might take several emails, delaying the help we are ready to provide to you. Notice how specificity in your description of the problem can really help. Try to anticipate the kinds of things we might ask you to clarify, and tell us when you first get in touch.

Other ways you can help us help you:

  • Give us information about your platform (Windows or Mac? Which version?) and browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome?).
  • Tell us what you were doing when the problem occurred (“I was trying to download a 500Mb video file”).
  • Take a screen shot so we can see what you see.
  • If you want to use a new tool, experiment with it well in advance. Don’t wait until the week before finals to find out about its glitches. If it’s a tool that we support, please contact us for some instruction. Even if we don’t support the tool, we’ll try to help.
  • Please, contact us by email rather than by phone. We may need to bring our colleagues into the loop, and it’s easier to do this by email.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, but remember: we won’t feed you, we’ll teach you how to fish! By this we mean that we’ll work with you to find way you can solve your problem, so that if a similar problem occurs in the future, you might be able solve it yourself.

Contact one of the instructional technologists by email for questions or appointments

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