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Dear Otto: How Can Students Keep Track of Passwords?

Posted by on March 18, 2013
tech questions

Do you have a tech question?

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?

Hi Kaylene

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-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. She is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, presentation reviewer for CSTA, Cisco guest blogger, a monthly contributor to TeachHUB, columnist for, featured blogger for Technology in Education, and IMS tech expert. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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