eLearning Technology Blog

Information Gathering for Fast Tech Help

by WSU Online 22. January 2014 15:09

As tech support, much of what I do involves instructing individuals on how to carry out various tasks or troubleshoot computer problems. This post is not meant to be an article on how to become a computer expert nor is it meant to replace individual assistance. Instead, this article is an introduction to troubleshooting, and more specifically how to troubleshoot Angel related problems.  It will hopefully provide enough insight to troubleshoot problems when time is of the essence, or when help is not readily available.

The first step in resolving a computer problem is information gathering. Information may provide insight into what is causing the problem and possibly provide a solution, the more information that can be gathered, the more insight will be garnered. It may be hard to determine what information is relevant, so I have provided a list of some helpful questions to ask yourself.

How long has the problem been around?
o    Is the problem persistent or intermittent?
o    Has the computer recently been updated?
Is the software I am using up to date?
o    In this case of an Angel problem, is the web browser up to date?
o    Does the problem persist across all web browsers?

I often ask the above questions when first responding to a tech ticket, so even if you are not able to resolve an Angel problem, the more information you are able to provide in submitting a tech ticket, the more quickly the solution will be resolved. Tips for gathering information:

The first set of questions from above can be answered by observation/estimation (e.g. , the problem has been around for about five weeks and is intermittent).
Most software has an “about us” options under one of the file menus that will list the version number as well as any possible updates.

o    Checking for updates in Google Chrome: https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/95414?hl=en
o    Checking for updates in Internet Explore:  http://windows.micro

o    Checking for updates in Firefox: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/find-what-version-firefox-you-are-using
Information gathering is helpful, but it is only one aspect to resolving computer problems. Knowing which resources are available when faced with a computer problem is just as important as the ability to gather information.  Here are some great resources to check when faced with an Angel technical problem:

Announcements: http://news.wsu.edu/announcements/
o    An announcement may be sent out if there is an outage or an Angel problem that appears to be affecting the whole system.
o    You may subscribe to receive announcements through email at http://lists.wsu.edu/join.phpf

WSU email, again an email may be sent out if there is a widespread problem.

The home page of Angel, http://lms.wsu.edu/, before logging into a course will often contain announcements about recent bugs related to web browser and possible workarounds.

The training and tutorials section of the online teach website, http://elearning.wsu.edu/training_resources/, is a great resource for learning how to work with angel.

Below are few suggested options to try out if information gathering and resource checking do not present a solution. The most common short term solution for resolving Angel or web based problems is switching web browsers. Switching web browsers may not be a long term solution, but if it resolves the problem, then it helps tech support determine that the problem is browser related. Therefore, it may be a suitable short term solution when time is running out. Credit: Kyle Cossairt

If you are using Internet Explorer try enabling compatibility mode.
o    http://elearning.wsu.edu/training_resources/tutorials/IE_CompatibilityMode.aspx

If you are using Firefox make sure “mixed content” is not being blocked:
o    https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/how-does-content-isnt-secure-affect-my-safety

Lastly, switch web browser to see if the problem persists across all browsers.
o    Google Chrome: http://www.google.com/chrome
o    Mozilla Firefox: http://www.firefox.com
o    Internet Explorer (Usually preinstalled on Window machines).
Of course if a long term solution is not discovered, feel free to contact technical support. The IT helpdesk, helpdesk@wsu.edu or 509-335-4357, is a great place to start and if the problem is Angel specific then they will pass the issue onto the angel specific helpdesk.

Derek Worthen

Tacoma Rendezvous: Part I

by WSU Online 3. January 2014 16:17

As we enjoy a welcome respite from another grueling semester and enjoy time with our loved ones this holiday, we look to the spring with excitement and promise. The anticipation of the upcoming semester is even greater for WSU Global Campus students, instructors, and staff who will be participating in the Tacoma Rendezvous on Saturday, March 8, 2014. The Rendezvous will include a resource fair, photo booth, continental breakfast, academic consultation, and the chance to speed up academic progress by taking a one credit seminar. The seminars begin on the first day of spring term and may include discussion boards, exams, and/or written assignments, but whatever the format, the four seminars will end in a face-to-face meeting (at Rendezvous or virtually) with fellow students and your instructor.

I am especially excited about the Rendezvous this spring as it is my second consecutive year teaching a seminar and being part of the day's festivities. Last year, I attended the lunch provided by ASWSU Online and had the opportunity to eat with several online students, some of which were taking my seminar. We chatted about the challenges of being an online student, the weather and drive to the site in Vancouver, sports, and other topics. It was a great opportunity to meet students of mine in a more personal setting. After lunch we went to our classroom and discussed what was covered in the seminar that semester. Students asked questions about the content, sought advice on their final projects, and just enjoyed each other's company. For me, the highlight was the chance to provide one-on-one attention and guidance. 

The experience as a whole was extremely rewarding and dare I say fun. Yes, fun! In the online environment people can become simply names on a screen. Even though we met only one time for a few hours, it was an opportunity to put faces to the names and relate to students personally and professionally which I do not get to do often in the classroom.

I truly do look forward to the spring 2014 Rendezvous in Tacoma and hope you will be able to join me and fellow online students for it. Butch T. Cougar will be there. What about you?
Note: This is the first of a series of blogs about my experience teaching the PSYC 301 seminar leading up to the face-to-face meeting in March. Stay tuned.

Lee Daffin, Ph.D.

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