Passwords are the keys to entering our digital lives in the 21st century for most people in developed countries, and that’s also becoming true for students in classrooms. I use to have one username/password for my students so they could take their A.R. tests. Slowly, with the use of more technology-based software to measure their progress in other areas, that list has expanded. Keeping track of it all has been a real challenge for me.
Pinterest to the Rescue
My first choice, naturally, was to pay a visit to Pinterest to see what other teachers had done about this dilemma. Usually, if it’s a problem for me, it has also been a problem for someone else…someone I’m hoping has already devised a smart solution that works. There is certainly no shortage of ideas on Pinterest!
Wanting to use my new pirate clip art as well as coordinate with our school mascot, I created my own set of cards – one for each website that my students used. Sure it was time-consuming. Sure, I had to spend precious hours cutting out my cards. It would be worth it, I told myself, if it helped my students organize their passwords. And didn’t they look so stinkin’ cute on top of it all?!
Fast forward a few weeks, and my fantastic idea is not working out so well. Turns out that keeping track of all those cards was harder for some students than actually memorizing their usernames and passwords! Eventually, many cards were lost and have never been seen since. Our workaround was for kids to look at their passwords from a master list I kept pinned to the bulletin board. Top-level security it most certainly was not, but with no reported incidents of hacking, I just went with it and got back to teaching.
Drawing on the timeless KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Sally), I have made a one-page document for organizing our passwords. We have four websites that we regularly access using passwords, so there are enough boxes for each site. Students store their organizers in a folder we keep at school. Hopefully, a full-size sheet will be easy to manage than four separate cards. Sometimes a cute idea is just that… attractive, but not always the most effective. My mom designs websites, and she says that sometimes clients get caught up in the aesthetics without thinking about the functionality of the site. That was my failing with the log-in cards. Being a teacher involves facing problems – both small and large – and trying solutions. I don’t feel like I failed with the cards…I just learned what not to do. That’s learning; that’s growing. I hope I never stop doing either one!