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What happens when technology doesn’t work?

Have a backup plan. 

It also depends on who you ask.

A school technician might say, in regards to teachers, "If administrators would just mandate it [technology] you would have a certain level of  competency." While others, probably teachers might say, "When I ask for help, the way the technician responds…his facial expressions and patronizing attitude makes me not want to ask for anything." Sound familiar? 

With a newsroom background, I thought I would be well-prepared and patient with today’s technology and in most cases I am. But reflecting on my news days: live-shots didn’t always make air; during interviews, batteries often died; cameras didn’t always work, especially in the rain; and blackouts happened, quite unexpectedly. I dealt with it knowing, even if it doesn’t work, I have to make air. I had to have a backup plan and schools have to get better at designing back-up plans when the servers go down.

Additionally, I, more than anyone should be patient when technology doesn’t work. But the truth is, I am not. I am, however, going to take what I learned from my Mohonk session on this topic and stop being a tech-pest.  

Notes from my session:

1) Learning technology is tough and we are empathetic to that plight . 
2) One man’s spam is another man’s email. Meaning, in schools, who’s to say we should block everything. [My favorite]

3) We need administrative support.

4) Suggested links to drive home their points: Stay ahead of the IT Crowd @ the BBC and The Ninja Librarian

5) We’re not a retail outlet trying to maintain customer service.
And, techies hear this a lot, "I have a quick question." And, "I hate to bother you, but…."

6) Managing expectations is key.

7) We have to provide reliable access to the internet.

8) Preventative maintenance cannot be done and cannot be staffed.

9) Building empowerment through faculty training

10) Any techies want to add a #10?

So, when your school’s server is down, you have to learn how to deal. Remember, it’s momentary. And flooding your tech managers’ phone line may just prompt the evil response, "WE ALREADY KNOW!"

Image is courtesy of GoodStorm)


  1. Aaron Grill says:

    #10) Time to plan, which means the tech department also needs to be adequately staffed. The more you plan, the less fires need to be put out, and the more time you have to plan.

  2. Amy Bowllan says:

    Aaron, thanks for your comment. I agree with the planning point you raise, but what about budget(s)? That’s always the operative word. Right? I say, plan to expand the tech budget.

  3. Yep. Budget and manpower.

    I support 22 servers and roughly 350 desktops… the other technicians support roughly the same number of desktops.

    My server solution is what we could afford, not what we need in order to assure the reliability that is demanded.