1. Help yourself a little first. It’s a good learning opportunity but don’t stay at this step until you get frustrated.
    • Have you read the course notes and the book?
    • Have you watched any video demonstrations available in the course?
    • Have you used Google on any error message to see if you can find your own answer?
  2. Think about how to word your questions and answers in ways that are courteous and respectful. When we get frustrated, it can be difficult to remember, but it makes a world of difference for people on the other end of the question or answer.
  3. Ask your classmates. If there is a Help Your Neighbor discussion, post there for some help. When this is successful, it is incredibly powerful for you and for the person offering guidance. It could be that just writing up the request for help, you figure out what you did or didn’t do.
  4. If you are experiencing issues with ViewPortal or vCenter, get in touch with the Help Desk. They will be able to help you. When you contact them please include the class and section. Examples of problems for the Help Desk:
    • I enrolled after the class started and my VMs don’t exist on vCenter.
    • I changed my name and I’m having issues logging into ViewPortal.
    • My shoelaces are too tight and the sun is in my eyes…Just kidding! Don’t report this.
  5. If you are having problems with an application you are trying to run for a homework assignment or a lab, do not get in touch with the Help Desk. Get in touch with either your instructor or use the Help Your Neighbor forum – the Help Desk, although by definition “helpful,” probably can’t help here.
  6. No matter who you ask, help them to help you. Make sure you do the following before you ask:
    • Include what it was you were trying to do. What is the expected outcome?
    • If you are getting an error message, include it when you ask for help. This can be the text of the message or screen capture of an error.
    • Explain clearly what you were doing and how you were doing it. “I was following the video” is not helpful. For a start, the videos are not designed to be followed exactly. They are demonstrations but not step by step identical to the assignments and labs.
    • Explain clearly what outcome you got. If there isn’t an error message, what is happening?
      Focus on describing your actions and the symptoms. If you tried a number of things, include information about what you tried.
    • More is not necessarily better. Don’t just dump all of your output (and input) into your help message. Pare back to what appears to be relevant but not so much that it’s harder to see what is happening.
  7. When you ask for help, be as explicit as you can be and write clearly.
  8. Running into errors can be frustrating so try to walk away for a bit. Frustration will muddle your thinking so take a break before trying again and before asking for help. Your frustration will often prevent you from being as clear as you should be when you ask for help.
  9. The later in the week you start doing your homework (say, 10 pm on a Sunday night), the more stressed you are going to be, which leads to more frustration. Also, there will be fewer people who are available to answer questions in the time frame you are hoping for. It’s worth starting early to keep the frustration and stress down and open more doors to help.

Examples

Not Helpful

I have now tried this three times and it’s still not working. Gah!!!

More Helpful

I am getting the error message “Wubble wubble” and the lab isn’t working.

Even More Helpful

I changed the botz on the frizz using the whizzy tool and then got the error message “Wubble wubble” when I clicked the button marked “Blahdiddy blah” — any ideas why I’m getting that error message?

Or

On Friday at 5:30 pm I logged into vCenter. I clicked the VM’s and Templates button and expanded the locations to reveal where my VMs should have been, but there is nothing listed under “LearnCloud”. Helpdesk, please advise.