So for those of you who don’t know, I work in a year-round school. That means my first day with students was last Monday.
Crazy, huh? You were at the pool and I was meeting new classes all day.
As a part of the first week’s lessons, I was responsible for bringing my students to the library for a bit of a digital orientation. As soon as I heard that my colleagues put me in charge of this little project, I groaned.
You see, our district has provided students access to about a million different digital tools. Not only do kids have storage space on our school’s server after logging on to our building network, they also have access to:
- Blackboard: A content management system that teachers can use for creating websites.
- Blue Diamond—Math: A service providing regular formative assessments in math.
- Blue Diamond-Science: A service providing regular formative assessments in science.
- Blue Diamond-Grammar: A service providing regular formative assessments in grammar.
- Blue Diamond-Social Studies: A service providing regular formative assessments in social studies.
- Blue Diamond-Reading: A service providing regular formative assessments in reading.
Now here’s where the Epic Tech Fail usually comes in: The district automatically generates user names for all of these services—7 in all—for our students and THEY’RE NEVER THE SAME!
That means my 11-year-old students have to keep track of 7 different user names and passwords each year.
How do you think THAT works?!
As an adult, I can’t keep up with all of the usernames and passwords that I have for different services. Is it really reasonable to believe that 11 year-olds can juggle different usernames and passwords for all of these services?
Every year, I get more and more frustrated with this situation because it’s illogical. “Every child has a unique student number,” I complain explain. “Why can’t that number become their username for every new program the district purchases?”
While no one has ever given me a clear answer, my guess is that the lack of uniformity in usernames across services is that each service is provided and maintained by a different team or department at the central office level—and because finding time for cross-team communication at the central office level is just as hard as it is at the school level, there hasn’t been a whole lot of coordination.
It could also be that varied usernames is an Internet security practice that protects kids and content in the event that a student’s unique student ID number is discovered by someone else—a very real possibility considering that it is written on almost every document that is generated by the system.
Regardless of the reason, this lack of uniformity results in never-ending headaches for teachers and students alike.
ANYTIME that we use one of our district-provided resources, we have to help about a dozen kids who’ve forgotten their passwords to get logged in, wasting class time and raising blood pressures all at once!
So when I trudged down to the library on Wednesday, I prepared myself for the yearly password fiasco that I knew was about to ensue. “I can’t wait,” I said sarcastically to a buddy on my learning team who wished me well as we walked by in the hallway.
I was pleasantly surprised, though, to find out that our school’s technology staffers—who are in charge of creating logins to our school’s network and of creating folders for every child on our school’s server—had taken a bold step towards sanity: They’d used the district assigned student ID numbers when creating network logins this year!
Better yet, a decision had been made to use the same student ID number for Blackboard logins and for student lunch accounts!
What a sigh of relief—and what a step in the right direction.
With a few simple choices and changes, our school’s technology staff had simplified the lives of a thousand students and 100 teachers by creating a uniform username strategy that will stick with kids for the three years they’re in our middle school.
Now if we can only get the rest of the district staffers on board. . .