As I’ve said before here, one of my major responsibilities is teaching students processes so that classroom teachers will be better able to use technology to teach content. One of the things we need to address is the login process. I’ve come up with a very low tech way of handling this issue. Each student has a username/password card. I clip them together in alphabetical order by first name and file them in a folder I have for each class, taking them out when we need them.
In about the middle of the 1st quarter, students make their username/password cards. Each student records their first name, last name, username, and password on a 5 x 7 card. This happens at every grade including kindergarten (when they are capable). I grade these cards. Did they fill it out correctly? Did they remember their username and password? When I grade them I provide correct information if it is not done correctly. We use these cards every time students go to the computers. The goal is for students to be able to login without using their cards. Every time I give them a card I mark it. This gives me an added piece of assessment. Many of the 1st grade students need their cards every time they login. But they quickly see that they will get to our online activity MUCH faster if they have the username and password memorized. Usually there are also a few 2nd graders who continue to use the cards. By 3rd grade most students no longer need to use the cards for logging in.
There are other uses for these cards. It is easy to upload a class list onto wikispaces. I try to use the same username and password as we use here at school but that isn’t always an option. Sometimes the username is in use and I have to make small changes so it will be accepted. The password has to be 6 digits long so I have to add to the student passwords. I record this information on their card so they can quickly get onto their wiki page. They usually memorize this login information so they can get to their wiki page from home. We also use a couple other sites during the year where the students create their own usernames and passwords. These are recorded on the cards.
It’s not a perfect solution. Students sometimes leave their cards at the computers, even though they’ve been reminded not to. This gives others access to their accounts. I have not yet seen that it has been a problem but the potential is there. It takes time to make the cards, usually a couple class sessions. That’s because I don’t just hand out the cards and tell them to make them. I make a big deal about these being the kind of thing that they should keep secret. Each student comes up to a small table to sit alone and fill out their card. While they do this I read aloud to the class. However, the time it takes to make them is easily made up in time spent actually on the computers rather than struggling to remember username and password. This very low tech solution to several username/password problems has worked very well.