All of us who work with technology in an education setting (or any other setting for that matter) have had the experience of standing in front of a group of students and having the technology we planned on using fail.
It’s embarrassing, to be sure, but how we handle this kind of situation, especially in front of school age students, can make all the difference between a merely unfortunate incident and an incident that causes students to become negative toward the particular application we were trying to use.
It is important to model a calm attitude while at the same time thinking fast about options to resolve or exit from the activity.
Many tests and assessments are now delivered electronically and students catch on pretty fast that some of these can be pretty high stakes. The last thing we want to do is to cause students to become anxious or unfocused. So, when the test engine isn’t working, it’s important for the person in charge to stay in charge and help the students to feel that everything will work out in the end.
Sometimes, the best plan is to put off testing for another time. In other situations, it may just be necessary to delay until things are fixed and working.
The younger the students, the shorter the wait must be, so it is always best to have an exit plan in case things don’t work. When the technical difficulties are fixed, a positive attitude about the second try goes a long way toward helping students’ confidence and will likely also help to maximize their performance.
“Keep calm and carry on” was the slogan used by the British government prior to the Second World War to improve general morale, and the sentiment also works well when technology doesn’t.