Most likely, you,too, have experienced homicidal urges when confronted with a problem you have spent five hours trying to solve on your computer, only to call tech support and have them report,
Well, it works fine on my computer.
You’d think if that solved the problem that they would offer to box up their computer and send it over to your house but, alas, they never do.
This is the reason that any software I use for class I test on several computers under different conditions. After having initially failed to get SAS On-Demand for Enterprise Miner to work with boot camp on the Mac, I tried it on a Lenovo machine running Windows 8. I had to install the JRE and ignore a few security warnings, but after that it worked.
[For how I did eventually get it working with boot camp, click here, and thank Jason Kellogg from SAS. ]
Next, I needed to upload some data. The SAS instructions say to use your favorite FTP client and coincidentally, I do have a favorite FTP client (Filezilla), so I downloaded it to the testing machine.
Only the professor can upload data to the class directory, and most professors probably have an FTP program on their personal computer (or maybe not, do you?) Even if you normally do, you may, like me, have borrowed a machine to use for testing or have a new computer. Whatever, this just reinforces my argument that you should never, never plan to use any kind of software in a class unless you have ample time to prepare.
I know that there are schools that ask adjuncts to teach on a week or two notice. That seems to me a recipe for disaster for both the professor and students, unless maybe you are doing something that hasn’t changed in 50 years and requires no technology, like reading Chaucer, I recommend you follow the advice of Nancy Reagan and “Just say no.”
Here are my first few hints:
- Test the software on multiple machines and multiple operating systems.
- Make sure one of those machines is on the older, under-powered end of the spectrum, as students often don’t have a lot of extra cash and may not have the shiniest, newest machine like you have on your desk.
- Test it on the latest operating system. It may turn out that the version your school has does not work with Windows 11. (I did not have that problem with the Enterprise Miner this time, but I’ve had it with other software in the past so it is a good idea.)
- Find out what other software you might need, for example, some kind of FTP program in this case, and install it on your computer, if necessary.
- Give yourself plenty of time to do all of the above.
You might think these types of things would be handled by the information technology department at your university, and you may be really lucky and that will be so. In many schools, the IT department basically helps re-set passwords, assigns school email addresses, helps to get discounts on software and upload files to Blackboard and not much else.
For years, I have been trying to figure out where the $50,000 a year or so tuition goes. It isn’t to adjunct professors and it isn’t to the IT staff. It also isn’t to buying the latest technology because, more and more often, students are expected to bring their own device.
You may think that none of the above should be your job and you may be right, but I am just saying if you want to anticipate the frustrations your students will experience and be able to solve their problems during the lecture by directing them to a link on your class website/ blog your life and theirs will both be a lot easier.