Our last class was about tech support and ways to work with customers. As the students haven’t had as much lab work as I would have liked for them to have this semester I decided to use Mike Meyers Labs and instead of having the students think about the scenarios, I would have them role play them in class. This would engage all the students and I thought it would show them some real experience with dealing with customers. A few students in the class are existing techs and I was hoping they would be able to feed back to their classmates and provide some much needed insight.
The first scenario was one where a sales tech had broken his computer the evening before and needed to get it fixed before his big sales pitch the following day. He had to bring it into the shop and the techs had to evaluate it and give him feedback. One of the students suggested as we had two techs, that we would do both good and bad techs. I figured it would reflect what I’ve experienced in the field so I went forward with it. I thought that by selecting one of the technology proficient students to play the customer would enable them to see to other side of the fence and help them connect with the customer better. He struggled with the role and seemed uncomfortable trying to be someone he wasn’t. After a few exchanges they introduced a little comedy into the scene and it kept the class interested. It was good and some ideas I hadn’t thought of to the resolve the issue were brought out. I felt like it was a good example, but then it got a little off the rails with the comedy. It was hard to reign it in, as I was laughing as much as the rest of the class. But I called an end to it and moved one to the next one.
The second scenario had an unhappy employee with his companies IT department. I was able to find a student that was able to play the standoffish tech very well, and another to play the unhappy employee. While this scenario played out and showed some good examples, I found it was hard to engage the student playing the tech in the activity. He was comfortable feeding back on other scenarios but not when it was his technique that was being scrutinized. I didn’t want to call his attitude out as the stereotypical tech to the class as I felt that would be singling him out and criticizing him directly. But I still felt it was important to show the class the different types of techs out there.
The last scenario that we did involved a CFO whose whole department was down and a helpful IT tech who showed up early and how they handled the situation. This was proved to be a very good teaching moment. The student playing the tech was being extremely helpful and from the reaction of the rest of the class they seemed to be on par with what he was saying. The problem was how he was saying it. I stopped the scenario multiple times to address the way that he was relaying the information to both the CFO and his Network Admin. I wanted to make sure that people realized that you have to be extremely careful with your word choice when speaking with customers. There are ways of saying the same thing that can come off as blaming the customer without the tech realizing it. In the same manner you can come across as saying “Its not my problem” without saying those words. I stressed taking ownership in the issue and empathy. This is where the other students who worked in the tech support field stepped up and offered their feedback and experiences also. I think that really resonated well with the other students.
Throughout the class though I had one student that kept asking questions on almost related topics and then leading it into another question. I tried very much to be brief in my response and to get the course back on track. After the third scenario was complete, his questions intensified and he just wanted to keep talking all night. While I have no issues answering his questions, they left the topic of the evening and I could see many of the other students were getting annoyed. I was able to finally stop him with saying that I needed to get back on topic and if he wants he can continue to ask questions after class. I just wish I could find a way to engage him more in the Moodle discussions as he seems very engaged in class, but not as much on the forums. That will be my goal for the next class I teach, to figure out how to engage that type of student.
I also learned one very important lesson about the network on campus, it is very slow and doesn’t store my connection past when my wireless drops. I had believed that I had uploaded these blog posts during the quizzes but come to find out that I didn’t have a valid connection and they were stuck in queue to upload. I ended up having to upload them at work instead. I’ve found multiple videos online that I feel are useful to use for class, but I can’t view them in class as the connection is too slow to buffer them in time for the class to view. I need to find a new way to pre-load them before I get on campus…