Small Steps

Bundled up in the operating system of all PCs since Windows 7 is a utility that is an essential tool in every student and teacher’s kit – the sad thing is, no-one uses it! The Steps Recorder is an elegant service that provides two things – support and time!

As many people know, one of the hardest parts of any technical problem is explaining to IT/eLearning staff the problem you just encountered on your machine. Generally, when problems occur, we are focussed on other things, and it is not uncommon for everyday users to find themselves lacking the language required to effectively explain to support staff what just happened. Fortunately, Microsoft’s Steps Recorder has a solution.

Steps Recorder is a program that helps you resolve a computer issue by recording the exact steps you took when the problem occurred. You can then send this record – complete with every step automagically described with text and images – to support personnel to help them sort out the problem. NB: Steps Recorder doesn’t record text that you type (e.g. passwords), except for function and shortcut keys. To open Steps Recorder, select the Start button, and then select Windows Accessories > Steps Recorder or simply start typing ‘steps’ in the search bar as indicated below. Select Start Record. Repeat what you were doing when the problem arose. You can pause and resume the recording at any time. As you record, you can also provide additional commentary via the Add Comment option in Steps Recorder. When you’re done, simply select Stop Record.

Select Save, name the .zip file, and send it on .zip file to the person helping you troubleshoot the problem on your PC. It can be viewed in any web browser.

Users can change the number of recent screen-captures to store. The default is 25 screens, so if you need to record more than that, increase this number.

I have used this to explain steps in the use of software to students and I have also had students use it to document processes in a range of different contexts. Worth exploring.

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