Smoothing out the roadblocks for technology
One part of my job this year is to work with our science faculty on the transition to becoming a 1-1 school, and as one of my English colleagues phrased it “Facilitating Innovative (and Integrative) Strategies that Help (you, your students, our learning community and perhaps even the world).” I love this description and we adopted the acronym FISH to describe our team of faculty charged with this task.
Here’s one quick example of how we’re trying to do this. We needed to replace the departmental scanner, which no longer works with the new macs that faculty were issued last spring. Scanners are super cheap now, so $60 gets you a great Canon flatbed scanner that can take quick and easy scans. But when the scanner arrived, the software installation disc was filled with bloatware and takes nearly half an hour to install all the various software Canon is trying to sell me on using, when all I really want to do is press a button and make a scan.
So I decided to fix this up by putting the essential drivers and software on a cheap flash drive I had laying around a drawer, and labeled the two files “Install Me First” and “Install Me Second.” I then secured this flash drove on a lanyard to the scanner, and permanently affixed instructions for installing the software and using the scanner onto the scanner lid. After a bit of testing, I got the install time down to less than 3 minutes, and now I think I’ve put out a scanner that will actually be used (unlike the previous one that saw very little use because so few faculty had the proper drivers installed and didn’t want to go through the hassle of installing them). All of this took less than an hour, and made me wonder why Canon couldn’t do a better job of providing some sort of basic “I just want to scan” install and quick “how to scan” instructions in the box.