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When Technology Fails

By Rachel E. Wobrak, University of Maryland

We’re very lucky these days that we have all kinds of technology to help us do our jobs better and more efficiently. Some of us are more apt to jump in and try new technology while others are a little unsure of new resources and how to use them. I think we can all agree we love technology, when it works, but when it doesn’t, that’s another story. What is supposed to make our lives easier can sometimes make them more stressful or more difficult.

Recently I found myself in a few of these situations. My graduate assistant and I have wanted to better utilize the technology we have available to us when organizing panels. She found someone who could participate virtually on the panel in addition to our in person panelists. It was great until we could see the panelist, but we couldn’t hear her and she couldn’t hear us. Eventually we just had to start the panel and my grad continued to trouble shoot until we finally decided to simply call her on the phone and put her on speaker. Other presentations/panels recently we’ve run into similar technology issues, once we forgot to select which audio to use so we had video and no audio and the next time we were diligent to make sure we figured out the audio, but the video wouldn’t work. You’d think this would be a little easier sometimes. I’ve been co-chair of the Technology committee for two years now and I still have trouble. I am not immune to these problems and I like to think I’m fairly comfortable with technology.

I say all this because when we reach these road blocks, it can be easy to say why bother and not attempt to use the technology the next time because you think it will let you down. I’m willing to admit that I’ve been frustrated in the moment and have thought about giving up and not bothering the next time. So, instead, I decided to make this the focus of my blog piece in an effort to encourage others to fight through that frustration. That’s my plan; I will be back at it with my fall programming to try to get it right, because I know it will be an invaluable tool for our students that can’t make it to the presentation/panel.

To make it easier, I have some tips for powering through frustration to get the technology to do what you want it to and to help us all do our jobs better.

  1. Form a Committee: It’s easy to give up when it feels like it’s just you vs the technology, but if it’s you and a colleague or you and a small group of people that want to learn how best to use the technology, you’re sure to motivate each other to learn how to best use the resources you have. More minds are better than one anyway, right?
  2. Google Common Problems: I know it sounds simplistic but this can sometimes be a really successful approach, especially if it’s something a number of people using the same tool have struggled with.
  3. Reach out to others: If you’re still stuck, try your IT department or manager, talk to other colleagues, or even reach out to EACE friends/colleagues to see who has experience with this same tool.
  4. Hold Training Sessions: Once the technology has been mastered (or at least it’s better understood), share the knowledge! Teach others how to use it so they feel more comfortable with the tool(s).
  5. Try, try again: Don’t let one set back keep you from figuring it out!

 

Rachel Wobrak is a Program Director at the University Career Center & The President’s Promise at the University of Maryland. She works with the College of Computer, Mathematical & Natural Sciences developing programming/events, meeting with students and collaborating with faculty, staff and employers. She assists with the office’s social media presence by managing the Center’s Pinterest account. She’s a Co-Chair of the EACE Technology Committee and soon to be on the Board as the Director of College Member Services. Rachel has her MEd from the University of Florida in Student Personnel in Higher Education and her BA from the University of Maryland in Classics (proof you can find a great career with any major). Please feel free to connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

 

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