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Troubleshooting Student Issues: General Process

This video provides an overview of how to troubleshoot issues that students report. In this specific case, a student reported that they were unable to edit an assignment Word doc. However, it discusses general troubleshooting techniques. The general sequence is described below.

Step 1: Try to Replicate the Error on Your End

Log into your own account. Try to walk through exactly what the student could have done to encounter the error. Your goal is to try to replicate the error on your personal WordPress account. If you replicate the error, diagnose and correct it. For example, if you discover the issue is a broken link, update the link to the right URL.

Step 2: Try to Replicate the Error in the Student’s Account

If you are unable to replicate the error, you can try using an administrator account to log in to the student’s account. This will help you rule out whether the student’s personal WordPress account is causing the issue. As an administrator, you can go to the “Users” section of the WordPress administration and reset the student’s password. Since you know the password, you can log in as them. Using their account, once again, try to recreate the error. If the error now appears (and didn’t in your own account), it is safe to assume the issue is with their account (note that this is fairly rare — issues tend to be site-wide). One possible fix is to un-enroll and re-enroll them into the course. When you’re done with their account,¬†make sure to let the student know you that you changed the password and that they should reset their password.

Step 3: Look to the Student’s Device

If you are unable to replicate the error in your account or in the student’s account, the problem likely resides on the student’s end. For example, their anti-virus or ad-blocker could be blocking functionality, they might not have the correct software installed, or they might not be technically savvy and need guidance on how to access and use materials. In order to assist the student further, you should prompt them for additional information. This will allow you to delve deeper and customize your response to their needs. Information that you should request from the student could include:

  • Their device information (e.g. laptop or tablet) and OS (e.g. Windows, Android, iOS)
  • Their browser (and possibly version)
  • Other¬†software¬†they may have been trying to use to access the materials (e.g. Microsoft Word)
  • The URL of the page where they encountered the problem
  • Any specific¬†error message¬†they encountered (e.g. a 404 page not found error)
  • A screenshot of the error can be extremely helpful in troubleshooting; especially when students lack the know-how to explain what problem they are having, this lets you visualize the issue directly
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