Getting Students Where You Digitally Need Them

If you have ever experienced issues getting students to and/or into a website or application, you know how frustrating it can be. I recently observed a classroom of 9th graders in which all students could login to laptops (using network logins they can’t change), but six students were unable to login to their district Google accounts (accounts they have had for over two years but can change). The teacher had to scramble to get them their logins and help them get to the site. It was more than 10 minutes before everyone was where they needed to be. Not good.

This is obviously a problem and certainly one that can be avoided. Here are some ideas that we have seen districts use to make tech use more efficient and fluid:

  1. Set the student web browser to open on a page that has all the direct links they need. This should include teacher pages and district-supported sites. It helps if this page is not cluttered with an overwhelming amount of content. (elementary school example, decent secondary example)
  2. If you are a teacher, provide a clear way for students to access your stuff (documents, links, help, etc.). This means you should have an online home for your stuff. (see more about this from Ron). When they click to your course/page, they should be able to access the most pertinent content without scrolling or clicking excessively.
  3. Set up integration between systems if possible. At Kent ISD, we have been using the GADS Sync tool to sync our Google domain with our LDAP directory. Students are also unable to change their passwords to avoid login issues like those mentioned above. Even if you can’t do an integration, you can set a common username structure for all district-supported applications and lock passwords for critical systems. Yes, students need to learn login management, but I argue they can learn that using non-critical systems.

These ideas take some work and some collaboration among IT and other staff, but if that work does not get done, then we will continue to waste time getting students where they need to be online. Worse yet, teachers will continue to resist and avoid technology because it interferes with what they do. We need to make sure systems are in place to make tech access as easy as possible for all. If you have strategies that have worked for you, please share them in the comments.

#edtech, #gafe