Julia has just reminded me of a fact. Well, two facts. One is that I often make plugs for things like Twitter and blogs in teaching. But lest I seem like one of those utopian Technology Will Solve Everything techno-hippies, I want to trot out the other fact, too:
If you teach with digital media, you are signing up to be tech support.
You might not want to hear it, but there it is. With college first-years who may have just received their first laptop, you might even have to do a little handholding with ye olde Microsoft Word, or explain to someone how to rename files. (Oh dear.)
But it's even more the case if you use course software, Google docs, Twitter, or any other program that the students haven't used before. (Especially if your course software has a clumsy interface *ahem* *cough* not talking about UCB of course.) If you're reading this blog, you probably don't think it's possible to be confused about how to sign up for a Twitter account. But if you're not in the habit of signing up for accounts, it can indeed be confusing.*
I actually don't think this is a bad thing--or at least, it's not a good reason not to teach with digital media. It's important for students to develop facility with computers and the web, and they have to pick it up somewhere. For me, teaching first-years has been a crash course in the falsity of the idea of the "digital native." But instead of panicking, we can do what we do -- that is, teach. My meager knowledge gets me pretty far. The classic XKCD flowchart describes pretty well what I usually do, and as it points out, if I'm stumped, there's always Google.
So while it's a little unnerving to find oneself playing tech support (and if you've required your students to do something online, you do have to do it at least a little), it's also pretty manageable as long as you set boundaries.
And in a pinch, there's always, you know, real tech support.
It's a little frightening how many people will look on you as some kind of tech guru simply because you have the IT support person's email address on a Post-It on your desk. But there it is, like the tech support you'll undoubtedly be giving.
*I won't lie; configuring my first Wordpress blog led to tears.