As any teacher knows, there’s often a direct correlation between the things we emphasize and the things students find significant. And we often show emphasis by the way we model behaviors. For instance, we speak in complete sentences, use proper punctuation and spelling when we write on the board, say please and thank you, and the like. These are some of the areas in which students like to take short cuts, and in the long run, it will pay off.
When it comes to technology, however, there are shortcuts we like to take–and even encourage students to take–that, in the long run, will not merely result in a decreased payoff, but will eventually and inevitably be harmful to students. One of those shortcuts is with the way we manage our passwords. And I am just as guilty as anyone else in this regard.
There are a few ground rules with regard to password security that I’ve learned (some the easy way, some the hard way) over the years that I like to instill in my students. Here are a few of them. As you’ll notice, we can’t say some of them enough…
1. NEVER share your password with anyone.
…unless you’re (happily) married to them–and, even then, only if they need it for a specific instance. As silly and impractical as this might seem to some people, no one else should have to know your password for anything. It should be that secure. We should teach kids that the question “What’s your password?” is an inappropriate question to ask or be asked. Never email, never text, never say out loud, never write down any password for any login. Ever. And no one should ever “log in for” anyone else. Even mom. Mom (or Teacher), you can encourage your child by saying, “I’m going to sit right here next to you. Could you log in and show me?”
2. Your birthdate makes a lousy password.
This is a good temporary password if you need to have it reset, but you should change it immediately. If it is even remotely possible for anyone to figure out your password (like if you brought cupcakes for the entire class today, or they happened to find your class schedule in the locker room), it’s not a good password.
3. Forgetting your password is a better alternative than any measure you can take to avoid forgetting it.
Forgetting it can make your life more difficult. It can slow you down. But almost anything you can do to prevent forgetting it (like writing it on the inside of your planner) can make your life much more miserable than a phone call or clicking the “forgot password” button.
4. Password management is a skill.
For even more extensive advice on password management, take a look at Troy Patterson’s recent blog post on the Dearborn Schools Technology Blog. I began implementing some of his suggestions just yesterday.
These are just a few. But supporting our students in abiding by these is important. Yes, it may make teachers’ lives more difficult because they don’t have a list of their kids’ passwords in front of them, but in the long run the pay off will be greater than if they learn to dot their i’s and cross their t’s.
Disagree? Got more tips? We’d love to have you comment below and contribute to the conversation!