Dear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.
Here’s a great question I got from Kaylene in Ohio:
How do you teach students to keep track of the many usernames and passwords they will need when using all of the great web 2.0 tools? I personally use an encrypted Excel file, but what do you suggest for students in K-8?
Great question. Here’s what I do for K-5: I have a binder by each station in the computer lab with a template for recording UN and PW for all accounts. This isn’t private (anyone could look in the binders), but most accounts don’t require any degree of security. The process is to get students used to tracking log-ins, that they have a source to check when they need a log-in. I do ask that each UN and PW be different so they acclimate to that and figure out a logic to accomplishing that which works for them. For example, they might come up with a sentence where they use the first letter of each word as the PW with some combination of number/symbol appended to the front or back. We also use Password Bird to create them, but this is entirely random–harder to remember.
Middle School students–I have them keep their log-in info in their planners, where they are private. By 6th grade, they are used to PWs and don’t have difficulty making the change to more security.
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Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.