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This lesson is on Computer Diagnosis and aids in learning computer basics


Computers & Internet  


7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12  

   What's Wrong With This Computer?
by T. Guy
Materials needed:
Computer(s), an imagination, and some students.


This activity is meant to be ongoing and can be adapted to be a sponge. Students will improve problem-solving skills as they fix a ‘sabotaged’ computer in an authentic activity.

Instructional Strategy:

Students will break into groups consisting of these roles:

Inspector – In charge of giving the computer the ‘once over’.

Recorder – Responsible for taking notes during the group’s ‘brainstorming’.

Reporter – Shares findings with the rest of the class. (Be sure to be ready to note the behavior and decision making steps the students take).

Anticipatory Set:

One of the drawbacks of being a computer teacher is that everyone considers you an ‘expert’ on anything that has to do with technology.

Relate: Professional, personal peers. Buying a computer (good deal? what is next?). Sometimes it is above my ability. Whenever that happens I always ask to be told how the problem eventually gets fixed. Real world problem solving.

Sometimes a problem is simple. (Hint) We will start out that way, but it will get very difficult.

My goal is to have you replace me. During the year I will present to you the most common problems that I encounter. Once you have mastered them I will send you to fix whatever problems other teachers ask me to fix.

Steps in Lesson:

1. Sabotage a computer before class in a variety of ways.

**First time show class how to set up a computer. Disconnect everything and demonstrate. Have students repeat.

– Video cable disconnected. Disk in the ‘a’ drive.

– Screen frozen.

– Setting time. relate hint: Whenever I install an important program (Photoshop, Netscape) I change the year (not the date!) of the computer to something bizarre, 1957, 1932, etc. I note this in the manual that comes with the program. This comes in handy in a variety of ways. If you have to remove the program, find files, free up hard drive space. The only drawback: Your drivers always appear out of date.)

– So many files open that the computer runs out of memory. Tell students that person reporting problem can’t open _______ program.

– Document won’t print (lots of stuff there!)

– In DOS, how do you return to Windows?

– Need a program to start each time you turn on the computer.

– Install a printer, scanner, etc.

– Routine maintenance problems. (scandisk, defrag) Must be done once per month.

– Shortcuts point to ?

– Out of hard drive space. What can you safely delete?

– Use your imagination and experience to think of more!

2. Remind students to be discreet in their discussions. They don’t want to clue in the other groups. Make sure they know what each role is expected to do.

3. Break into groups (be sure that the composition of the groups changes each time). Allow students to assign roles and start investigating.

4. Give groups the appropriate amount of time for the problem and then choose groups randomly to report how the figured out what was wrong and how they chose to fix it.

5. Repeat the same lesson at another time by itself or in conjunction with another problem later in the year.

Closure: Encourage students by ‘including’ them in the ‘club’. Laugh about how simple the problems are sometimes, and how challenging they can be (and satisfying!).

E-Mail T. Guy !

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