Maybe some of you have faced this – you have the task of teaching a kindergarten class technology and you have to get them to login using their own unique usernames and passwords on the school computers. I remember well the term where it took so long for everyone to login that time was up, and we all had to log off again. The class was disappointed, and I was too. In myself that I couldn’t get them over the line, and also that I didn’t manage to teach anything at all.
One major challenge I have faced that can derail the most carefully planned lesson is getting your kindergarten class logged in. Without everyone logged in, it is next to impossible to teach anything at all. At my school, the username format is firstname.surname. Here are the problems:
- Spelling their name: Nearly all kindergarten children can spell their first names, but many cannot spell their surnames. Surnames like Cole and Noble are manageable. Mackenzie and Haythornthwaite not so much.
- Letter case: the first letters they learn are lower case. The computer keyboard is in upper case. Often they do nor recognise the upper case letters and confuse I (upper case i) with 1 or l (lower case L).
- Keyboard layout: This is like nothing they have seen before. The letters are in strange places that are counter intuitive for the average 5 year old. They are more familiar with alphabetical order. The keyboard isn’t.
- The difference between the username and password: Often the class will mix them up – thinking their username is their password and vice versa.
- The sheer amount of time it can take for the average kindergarten pupil to do something: Unless you have taught kindergarten on a regular basis, it is very easy to overestimate their ability, independence and speed to get things done.
So, a few problems then. But what is life without a few challenges to overcome and make things interesting? After all, nothing worthwhile was ever easy (I made that up). Here are some of the strategies I have used to address the problems:
- Print their usernames in large lettering, laminate them and cut them out. Each child gets its own username card for use every lesson. Try to use a font that has a clear distinction between lower case L and 1.
- Print out some blackline masters of the key layout of a keyboard (I searched for images using keyboard black line master or keyboard colour in as a search string and got some good results) and give one to each child. They colour in the keys they will use to type their username. With some children I also put a small cross or tick on the keys they had to colour.
- I have read some articles stating that you shouldn’t go around the room doing the logging in for them. I agree to a point. If they can’t do it, they can’t do it. Set a time limit of say 5 minutes for everyone to login. Make it clear you expect everyone to try in that time. Some will manage it. After time is up, go around and get them logged in. Doing that is better than wasting valuable learning time.
- Have everyone at their computer while watching you go through the process step by step with them. They can see you do it, then try themselves.
- Giving everyone the same password can speed things up hugely. You should check your department policy on privacy before trying this strategy to ensure compliance.