Web-based development environments for education generally fall into two categories: Those that allow you to create groups or classrooms, and those that don’t. In both cases it is extremely important to note that you and your students must be careful when providing any personal information to any website, even when working with trusted educational tools.
In this document, we will provide:
- Examples of Computer Science (CS) education tools that provide built-in, classroom management functionality.
- Tips for digitally managing student accounts when using CS educational tools that lack built-in classroom management functionality.
- Non-digital alternatives to managing student accounts.
- Solutions for students that don’t have email addresses.
Built-in classroom management
- Create a digital classroom where you create or add student accounts to a managed group during registration.
- View each student’s account name and academic progress.
- Provide the ability to reset lost or forgotten passwords.
Digitally managing student accounts
Websites that do not have built-in classroom functionality (of which are many,) are still manageable with the right habits. Below we provide tips for dealing with students losing access to their accounts.
The student has forgotten their username.
- This can be fixed by creating a digital spreadsheet with each student’s username. If they forget their username, they could just ask their teacher.
- Alternatively, the teacher can create a system for usernames. When students forget their username, the teacher simply reminds them of the system.
The student has forgotten their password.
- Students should have used an existing email address to register for the account. The site’s built-in password recovery system will send a reset link sent to their email, once they have filled out the password recovery form. The caveat is that some recovery systems are slow, and that some students will forget the email address used during registration.
- Handling student passwords is a bit of an ethical conundrum. As teachers, it is difficult to properly encrypt student-chosen passwords, especially since students are prone to reusing passwords from other accounts.
- One option to remedy this is to assign passwords, and then keep track of this information through a spreadsheet. (Excel has an easy encryption functionality if you’re worried about unauthorized access.) Student passwords should be unique, yet something they can easily remember. An example might be one of their parents’ first names, followed by the last four digits of their student ID.
An approach used in the past was to create index cards with student usernames and passwords written on them.
In applications of this method:
- Each class is indexed, so students can look up their information by finding their corresponding class, and then look through the cards.
- Most of our students have a minimum of three passwords and usernames, and that is just the general education and not students in additional computer-related programs at my school.
- We find we have fewer interruptions during teaching time because the students are able to independently find their information.
- We have not had much trouble with this system so far, partially because we feel that because students have to come to the desk to look at the cards, there is less of an opportunity to fool around. In addition, we stress a “zero tolerance” rule to anyone caught stealing passwords.
Another alternative approach is to ask your school’s office staff to export a CSV class roster from NYCDOE’s Automate the Schools (ATS) system. Use this roster to create a spreadsheet of student accounts. This can then be printed and cut into strips for each student. (Code.org accounts can be printed and laminated for another shortcut.)
Here are some tips:
- To delete accounts or change passwords, you make the change on the student’s account online and print out a new password as needed.
- Assigning passwords to students in lower grades makes them easier to remember.
- Consider creating student passports; small booklets that can be sent home with homework folders to help keep track of multiple usernames and passwords, for multiple school-based accounts (Google, Code.org, Project Ignite, i-Ready, Pearson, etc.)
Help! My students don’t have email accounts
If your students don’t have email accounts, you can create unlimited logins with a single google account. This is done by adding a “+” followed by text in your email before the @ sign. For example, if you create a Gmail account called: firstname.lastname@example.org, you can have students log in with emails such as:
You can put anything after the plus sign, not just numbers, but please remember to be careful when providing personal information online. Students can log in with these emails, but any actual email sent to those emails will go to your account, (such as verification emails.)
- Some of the platforms that you and your students will use to do CS work, known as integrated development environments (IDEs), will also provide you with CS classroom management tools that make student accounts easy. See our guide for more information about choosing IDEs: “How might I manage students’ programming work?”
- You may already have ways of managing student work non-digitally; these techniques can work with digital work as well. Student rosters from Automate the Schools (ATS) are especially useful.