Sabotage Your Students! It’s Fun!

I normally have a hands-off policy when it comes to a student’s computer. I guide students through the skills necessary to configure and use applications.

When I show them initial application configuration, they follow instructions. Later in the course, they realize complicated steps are easy after learning application basics, concepts, and controls.

I have one exception to my “hands-off” rule – sabotage. Sabotage is a powerful tool in our training toolbox. Through sabotage, I insure students learn proper display configuration, shortcut creation and more.

When I sabotage a student’s computer, it’s encourages skill review. It’s easy to recite skills by rote. It’s harder to demonstrate the skill. Sabotage is repetitive and encourages skill review. Some areas I use sabotage include:

  • Delete the Desktop shortcut for an application a student uses daily
  • Change the File Explorer view to large icons
  • Close the folder list in Outlook
  • Close the ribbon in Microsoft Word
  • Switch Microsoft Word to Reading view
  • Enable paragraph markers in Word
  • Change a word pronunciation in the screen reader dictionary
  • And more

If a student is learning a skill, there’s probably a way to sabotage the computer so the skill is reinforced and practiced.

When sabotaging a student’s computer, keep it simple. Don’t make too many changes. Sabotage is designed to be repetitive and fun. Make one change and repeat liberally. After re-creating their Desktop shortcut several times, they’ll know how to make Desktop shortcuts.

After fixing the File Explorer view or restoring the Outlook folder list several times, they’ll have confidence in the skills and never flounder when something changes.

Sabotage is fun. Initially, a student is confused and may struggle with the skill. With your guidance, they’ll gain more confidence. Eventually, they’ll enjoy finding the error and quickly repairing it.

Don’t worry about overkill. You’ll know you’ve succeeded when the student laughs and quickly undoes your carefully planned sabotage.

When one sabotage becomes fun, introduce different sabotage. Keep students on their toes and exploring by tweaking their settings or pressing a keystroke.

Sabotage reinforces skills, encourages students to experiment and is fun for both student and teacher. If you’ve never sabotaged your students, I recommend giving it a try!

Through sabotage, you can gauge your student’s progress and force those who don’t enjoy studying to learn skills despite themselves!

Be creative, have fun and sabotage those computers! Need sabotage suggestions? Drop me a note. I’m a skilled saboteur who loves sharing ideas!