We just finished our first two weeks of school. It was quite literally a blur. My take aways though will hopefully help me to improve next year. So what are my take aways?
Well, for starters it has become obvious to me that getting students setup with all their different accounts on week one is becoming more important than ever. We’ve got teachers wanting students online and working by the third or fourth day and with over a half-dozen different network accounts for students, it can get messy real fast.
This year I was able to link Moodle to AD and Google Apps to Moodle, so at least kids only have to know their Windows logon and password to get access to all three, but that still leaves Typing Master, Accelerated Reader (not dead yet, I’m afraid), our Student Grades portal, the cafeteria meal tracking system, and a few I am forgetting. Not to mention just the basics of how to logon, where to go to access everything, tracking Acceptable Use Policy forms, media release forms, resetting forgotten passwords on the second day after they had to change them, looking up forgotten user account names. It all takes time, and a lot of it because it is not all at once, it’s spread out throughout the entire day. I know there has to be a better way to handle it next year.
And this got me thinking about what Jon Corippo said they do at Minarets. The first few weeks, they rotate students through stations where they learn one thing, whether that is how to use iMovie or care for their macbooks, every student goes through the rotation. How great would that be if I had every student rotate through the account setup station and I could take 20 students through a period and make sure all their logons worked and that they knew how to logon and access their accounts.
Of course this is way outside the box thinking for schools but it reminds me of new hire orientation at a job. When you sign on with a company that has its act together you usually spend a day or two just getting situated, going to the HR orientations, getting your logon info from IT, signing a ton of paperwork. Well, maybe its time we had a real orientation for students to make sure they are all on the same page, that they are given an opportunity to be introduced to the school culture, to practice the expectations that they will be responsible for during the school year in a more intimate and authentic setting than an hour rally with 200 of their peers and teachers far removed from the experience.
Lets get away from the start of school lecture hall routine and break out into small groups with project based learning activities and set the mood for the entire year. And if I happen to get every student their logon and accounts setup in the process, well that works for me.