I joke that if one of my parents calls me in the middle of their work day, I should answer the phone:
"Help Desk... Emily speaking."
Because inevitably the reason for their call is a request for technical support. Sure, I know a thing or two about a thing or two, but they never call to ask me how to build a web site or design a logo. Oh no, I usually get questions about why their Skype isn't working or how to set up a wireless router... issues outside my "area of expertise" yet I can't resist the challenge (or the guilt).
And I've recently run into the same situation with my students!
This got me thinking... As an educator, instead of "fixing" the problem for them, how can I help empower my students (and my parents) to research their tech toils and employ solutions on their own?
A couple of years back when I worked in an IT shop, I asked one of my supervisors about an error message that kept popping up on my computer. Instead of diagnosing the problem himself, he simply copied and pasted the error message into Google and VIOLA! It was an AH-HA moment for me. He didn't know the answer, but he knew how to find it... Either way, error message fixed and goal accomplished.
The sum total of human knowledge is available at our finger tips thanks to the internet. Not only do you need to know how to find the information, you also need to know how to evaluate and use it - digital literacy in action.
Whether you run into an issue with a digital device or a piece of software - chances are someone else has already found (and posted) an answer to the problem you're trying to solve.
So the next time you're wrestling with an error message - Google it!
It's the best tech advice I've ever received. Seriously.