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technical support comfort zone

February 11, 2012

I need to make clear my reasoning and thinking about technical support/help. On the one hand, frustration with not understanding something is an excellent teacher in and of itself. Our work breeds frustration in large quantities: it’s a feature of the stuff. Learning to handle and channel frustration is actually one of the Student Learning Outcomes (SLO) that I see as a job successfully completed. That said, it’s impossible for me know the level each student can handle and whether or not a student is gaining ability or giving up. Each semester I deal with this issue and feel uneasy with the process. Part of me wonders how many of them are suffering in silence to no good end?  Part of this issue is one of communication. Does each student feel comfortable approaching me for help?

My sense is that some students each semester do not approach me for technical support when in fact they should.  So, I will say flatly that the first approach for help is to send me an email with a link to the work in question with a really specific question for help. I want these emails and I want to be of service to my students: that is my job. Do not read my rule about late Friday pleas for help as a blanket “don’t bug Derek” policy. I am here to help, but I am a human being. Any request for help up to close of business [5:00pm PST] on the due date will get a helpful response. Take advantage of my presence, but be smart about it and remember to send me a link and craft a concise question about the help topic. Often thinking about the question makes the answer moot [42], right?

But always ask, no matter what. This is my job, use my expertise ad libidum.

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