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Dear Otto: How do I prevent printer pandemonium?

Posted by on March 11, 2013
tech questions

Do you have a tech question?

Dear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Cheryl in Indiana:

It seems that my well-structured primary tech classrooms fall apart when it is time to print. Some students just keep pushing Print & end up printing multiple copies, 25 students scramble to the printer to collect their printouts. Total chaos! Any ideas?

I have a two-step solution to that:

  • Teach them how to print. I take lesson time to show them the print box, all the varied spots where things can be changed, and how to do it right. After that, I know it’s not lack of knowledge causing the problems
  • I don’t let them go to the printer. First, it gets to be the lab water cooler–everyone hanging out back there, chatting, while they wait for the stuff to print. That’s no good. Second, I’ can’t monitor that everything printed is appropriate if they’re taking papers from the printer. Third, if they print more than one, I want to chat with them about it.
  • Consistent offenders aren’t allowed to print. I’ll email it to parents/teacher, but they lose the privilege

Most times, they are cured when I talk to them. I never let it slide because it would descend into chaos.

Does that help? Any other pieces I didn’t mention?

Good luck!

To ask Otto a question, fill out the form below:

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. She is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, presentation reviewer for CSTA, Cisco guest blogger, a monthly contributor to TeachHUB, columnist for, featured blogger for Technology in Education, and IMS tech expert. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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