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School’s out Friday

Lucacept - Jenny Luca - 26 June, 2015 - 23:26

I suspect many of you have seen this on mainstream media this week. Cats can certainly wind up in some funny spaces – seeing this brought to mind an experience I had with my dearly loved and recently departed cat, Bella. And yes, if you’re a regular reader you may recall me mentioning our loss last year of our dearly loved dog, Bella. That’s right, we had two animals in the same house with the same name. It’s a long story. Suffice to say, two animals often fronted for dinner when called!

But back to the story related to the video above. My parents live nearby, around ten minutes away. I drove there one day, stopping at a set of lights on the way. When I arrived, I could hear a cat wailing when I stepped out of the car. I thought I must have hit the neighbour’s cat so started looking around the car for an injured animal. No sign, but the wailing continued. I eventually narrowed it down to the bonnet of my car. Lifted it, and yep, there was Bella, huddled on top of the engine, wailing. I spent time in the weeks after this checking where Bella was before venturing out for any car trip!

Bella, daredevil cat, is on the left. Bonnie, far too slothful for any such adventure, is still with us and on the right. No need to check my car when I venture out now. She’s never going to be hidden in the engine – that would require too much effort!

Have a great weekend. Seek out enjoyment. Make it your mission.  Just avoid positioning yourself on the wing of a glider or the top of a car engine.  :)


Categories: Planet

Free Technology for Teachers: How to Use PicCollage - And Five Ideas for Using It In Your Classroom

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 26 June, 2015 - 17:50


  • "PicCollage is one of my favorite Android and iPad apps. It is a free that allows you to quickly arrange pictures, video, text, and stickers into collages. From the app you can share your collage to Google Drive, Instagram, Facebook, Dropbox, and many other file sharing services. In the video below I demonstrate how to use it without creating a PicCollage account." - Rhondda Powling

Tags: how to, PicCollage, ideas, educational technology, images, photographs

by: Rhondda Powling

Categories: International News

Learning is Relational

The Principal of Change George Couros - 26 June, 2015 - 04:59

Sitting in a session with Tracy Clark, about “A Posture of Experimentation“, she asked us to fill in the blanks on the following statement:

Trying something new is like ___________  because _________.

This was a great exercise in having the group think about, and embrace the opportunities for our own growth.

As I thought about it, it is easy to promote the ideas of others embracing their own personal growth, but as educators, both with our colleagues, and our students, do we create environments that are safe for this type of “experimentation”? For example, I walked into a classroom recently and saw the sign that stated, “Do it right the first time.”  This does not promote the mindset.  Although it is easy to criticize this quote, I honestly would have had the same mindset in my classroom as a teacher when I started in 1999. You often create, what you experience.  But the reality is that it is easy to say, “try something new”, without the work of creating an environment that is safe for this type of experimentation.  In education, this is not simply on one person or group, but about us as a whole.

Even this past week, I watched a Twitter account have their grammar corrected by someone (who was thankfully not an educator) online in a very blunt manner.  Was their grammar incorrect? Yes. Did it really matter? No.

Although I saw the tweet and the response and thought it was not the best way to use the medium, I did not know the person behind the account, until they showed up to my session.  They just happened to be a high school student who was actually crushed by the public correction.  Did this interaction, as small and little for one person, help create a mindset in another individual that was open to “taking risks”?  (I did end up tweeting everyone to follow that account and hopefully made them feel a little bit better!)

This happens online though, but I have seen the same interactions in classrooms and meetings as well.  Instead of seeking first to understand, we can often be quick to correct or squash the ideas and thoughts of others, instead of asking questions or seeking first to understand.  This is not about being “fluffy” and not challenging the ideas of others, or even our students, but it is about creating an environment where this feels safe, and is about helping others, not tearing them down.

Learning is relational. It is not simply a transfer of knowledge between two people or parties, so the connections and moments we have with each other are also crucial to growth. This safe environment is necessary if we want people to truly take risks.

Categories: Planet

What will go if we teach CS?

It’s a constant question that comes up when we talk about adding (more) computer science to K-12 curriculum. Katie O'Shaughnessey talked about it in her excellent post Day -1: #cs50bootcamp: It’s all about scheduling in schools… what will go if we teach CS? Brian Sea asked me via Twitter “why not ask students? They can vote with their feet.” If only it were that easy.

Yes, in theory students can vote with their feet – they can sign up for the courses they want to sign up for. In practice school guidance counselors have a lot of influence and they don’t always see the need for more CS. Much of the reason for that is that they are influenced by college admissions officers who don’t seem to emphasis the value of computer science in their process. Many of us have been asking for universities to look for more CS in incoming students for years with little progress.

The only way to really get enough  people to have some exposure to CS in K-12 (or perhaps focus in during high school) is for there to be a required course. That pushed the “where will it go” question and the fighting begins.

Art, music and world language departments are often the ones with the most skin in this game. They are the departments that depend on elective courses the most. And they are important courses. Adding a new required course may very well cut back on their enrollment. The schedule of a school day is a zero sum game.

I wonder though if the problem is not overstated in many schools. I teach at a Catholic school where four full years are required. We still require more credits than most of the local public schools. If we can find room for four full year courses why can’t other schools find room for one semester or even full year of CS? Oh and by the way we do have a CS requirement or graduation.

I think that rather than assuming the schedule is full schools should look at what is actually happening in student schedules. If there are study halls or students only taking a couple of courses their senior year than clearly there is room for a required CS course. If not, well, than maybe something does have to go but with the increasing importance of CS in every facet of life room for CS needs to be found.

Categories: Planet

Simplicity and reliability

Bluyonder Greg Whitby - 25 June, 2015 - 11:10

Essa Academy

Six years ago, Hayward School on the outskirts of Manchester in the UK was considered a failing high school.  A new principal arrived with a new vision, new leadership team and an expectation that every child can learn and succeed.  It was turned into an Academy, renamed Essa and today it is lauded as a school with a 90 percent pass rate.

Last week, one of its directors, Abdul Chohan was in Parramatta to share Essa’s learnings.  Reflecting on Essa’s learning journey, Chohan said that changing beliefs led to changing behaviours.  Starting with a clear vision, they began encouraging and resourcing teachers who were willing to try new approaches.  These teachers were asked to find another teacher in the school who could try out the idea and if it worked, they brought it forward to the wider community.  This approach to building critical mass had the advantage of teachers leading the change and the professional learning.

Not surprising, the Academy operates within an anywhere, anytime, anything learning environment.  However, Chohan is quick to point out that Essa has no technology plan only a learning plan.  The talk is always on the pedagogy and the tools are in place to enable and deepen the learning.  One of the big lessons for Essa was the move away from learning management systems (LMS) and virtual learning environments (VLE) to an iOS platform.  Simplicity and reliability are the criteria because it allows teachers to maintain a relentless focus on the learning not the tools.

All students have an iPad and the Academy uses iTunes U (the largest repository for educational material in the world) for teaching and Showbie (app for assessment and feedback) for learning.  Using the Open University model as a framework for delivering engaging content, the Academy’s teachers work together to plan, develop and assess coursework.  Chohan mentioned that they now have students demonstrating their learning by creating course content for iTunes U!

Sharing learning is deeply embedded in the vision of Essa Academy: All Will Succeed.  The Academy’s vision underpins everything they do and is inclusive of everyone. It is a great example of one school sharing its experiences and learning so that other schools and students can also succeed.










Categories: Planet

Do Grades Kill The Magic of Learning?

I was reading Mark Guzdial’s blog this morning (A goal for higher ed: “There is magic in our program. Our program changes lives.”) and as often happen it got me thinking. His daughter is in a summer program with no grades and no tests. The idea is that students are there for learning’s sake. Scott McLeod also had a recent post about learning for the sake of learning - Summer of Code Scott’s family is learning to code on their own (with help from some online resources he lists.) Again there are no grades involved. It’s about learning.

Grades bug me. One summer I was teaching summer school at a prestigious boarding school. One of my students was very concerned that her good but not exceptional grade in my course would bring her GPA down to the point where she was not the top student in her class at home.This has stuck with me for probably 20 years now. How can we have a system where the grade is more important than the learning? And yet that is what we have.

I took my first computer science course near the beginning of my university career. I loved it. It was magic. I spent every free hour for the rest of my college career learning as much as I could. Some of it in classes but much of it on my own and with peers. My transcript may show how much (or how little) I cared about grades but my career over the last (gasp) 40 years shows, I think, shows how much I like learning.

I was lucky in that I had professors who encouraged experimentation and independent learning. They all seemed much more interested in us learning than in the grades themselves. It is an attitude I hope my students see in me as well.

There is a magic in knowledge, in learning, in ideas. There is no magic in grades. The hard thing is getting students to want to learn things. Passion from teachers can help. It is something I strongly believe teachers need to have to be good teachers. But it is often not enough. Grades are the club we use to force students to do things that we believe they will learn from. This often results in short term learning that fades with time. Hardly a good thing. In the long term this emphasis on grades as a mix of carrot and stick detracts from learning.

The trick, if you will, is to find other motivations. Motivations that come from within the student rather than being forced on them externally. As I look though my curriculum and plans for next year I will focus on what students found as fun. What made them want to learn more for themselves rather than just for the grade. When students want to learn to solve their own problems they seem to learn so much more that really does feel like magic.

Categories: Planet

Inspired By Serial, Teens Create Podcasts As A Final Exam | MindShift | KQED News

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 24 June, 2015 - 18:44


  • A great article about using podcasts for assessment of yr 10 students to demonstrate their understanding of literary concepts - Rhondda Powling

Tags: teaching, learning, podcasts, assessment, exam, student_achievement

by: Rhondda Powling

Categories: International News

How To Get Started With Sketchnotes – Smashing Magazine

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 24 June, 2015 - 18:34


  • "Making your notes more interesting doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. If you think sketchnoting looks fun, Some tips in this post to get you started." - Rhondda Powling

Tags: how to, sketchnotes, sketchnoting, infographic, tools, notetaking

by: Rhondda Powling

Categories: International News

25 Ways to Develop 21st Century Thinkers ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 24 June, 2015 - 18:28


  • "An infographic created by Mentoring Minds in which they featured 25 ways to develop 21st century critical thinkers" - Rhondda Powling

Tags: educational technology, mobile learning, learning, thinking skills, critical thinking

by: Rhondda Powling

Categories: International News

Citizen Science and Big History

Darcy Moore's Blog - 24 June, 2015 - 18:20

National Geographic encourages student citizen scientists to participate in their Genographic Project, which employs cutting-edge genetic and computational technologies to analyse historical patterns in DNA from participants in an effort to better understand our human genetic roots. They have an emerging education focus that encourages schools to participate.

Last year I wrote about plans to personalise Big History by having students participate, as citizen scientists, in The Genographic Project. Today, my very excited and enthusiastic class, collected samples of DNA* from their cheeks (using the Geno 2.0 kits) and posted them to National Geographic.

flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

It will take two months for their DNA to be analysed and the data to appear at their personalised page at the Genographic site. This will not only tell them the migratory paths ancient ancestors followed thousands of years ago and what percentage of their genome is affiliated with specific regions of the world but also if they have Neanderthal or Denisovan ancestry. They will also be assisting, as citizen scientists, to build on our total knowledge of the human journey by contributing the story from their DNA.

The students will be receiving their results around about the time they commence Threshold 6 of their Big History course which explores early humans and collective learning. This seems symbolically significant as the nature of citizen science is yet another example of the human urge to share and cooperate. The students will have a very personal connection with our earliest origins as they will be able to see their own genetic route out of Africa.

We are all very excited!


Today, this process of collecting DNA samples, has only been made possible through partnerships the school has developed. We are always enthusiastically forging relationships with the tertiary sector that benefit our students in many areas of life and learning. There are now many programs that result in a wide-range of workshops at school or at our local university that prepare students for tertiary education. There are a variety of experiences, such as mentoring programs and academic extension opportunities too, on offer.

Professor Bert Roberts, Director of the Centre for Archaeological Science at the University of Wollongong, funded the Geno 2.0 kits so it was free for the students to participate. Usually, there’s not much change from US$200.00 to complete the testing so it is highly appreciated by the students and our school that the university has financially supported this initiative. I know Professor Roberts is hoping to gain some some great students for his course who are deeply engaged with archaeological science from an early age and these students during next term will learn a great deal about prehistory and also how aDNA (Ancient DNA) can inform our understanding of the past.

We have commenced planning for an exchange with a school in Indonesia, potentially on the island of Flores, and Professor Roberts has indicated it is possible for the students to visit the cave where Flores Man (‘The Hobbit’) was discovered. Students studying Big History could really broaden their experiences and start to understand the complexities of archaeological excavation in the 21st century.

The Future

My proposed study tour will focus on forging closer links with key innovators, academics and institutions that can assist NSW teachers with processes and support to engage students with significant, intellectually rich opportunities to learn by creatively and innovatively employing new and emerging technologies in the classroom. The opportunities to personalise concepts in NSW syllabuses, especially in the subjects of science and history, are extensive and exciting as students are connected with the Big Picture of our shared human journey.

I have applied for a NSW Premier’s Teaching Scholarship in an attempt to make it easier for students and teachers to become citizen scientists with the Genographic Project. Currently, it is quite a challenge to fund and even ordering the kits from the USA is much more difficult than it should be for a range of practical reasons. I hope to meet with the Genographic team and it would be fantastic if Dr Spencer Wells could be a supporter of citizen science in NSW schools.

It would be fantastic if all students had a chance to study the fabulous Big History course and to personalise their learning with support from National Geographic.

Stay tuned!

* The testing is a non-medical DNA test and will not reveal information about potential illness.


The post Citizen Science and Big History appeared first on Darcy Moore's Blog.

Categories: Planet

3 Long Term Opportunities For Schools Today

The Principal of Change George Couros - 24 June, 2015 - 08:21

After a conference, there is the thought that many need something they can do right away with students.  The demands of being a teacher, while also keep opportunities “fresh”, is something that lends to this way of thinking.  If you go to any conference, there will be a ton of “apps” shared of cool things you can do, but often times, the learning with this is more novelty than depth. Learning that empowers and makes an impact takes thoughtful leadership at all levels, as well as vision.  It also sometimes not only takes a “village”, but the vision of the village to come together.

With that being said, I have been focusing on some initiatives that are new(ish) in some schools, that will need communities to come together. Obviously, ideas like leadership and sharing mutual respect for others, as well as appreciating and celebrating both our similarities and differences, are crucial to our school environments.  Powerful learning does not happen in schools without a focus on relationships and community.

Here are three initiatives that will take time, effort, and community to make happen at the systemic level.

1. A focus on digital citizenship/leadership.  

This above image created by Bill Ferriter, quoting Will Richardson, is one that has made a significant impact on my thinking.  I have often asked educators, if a fight broke out, which subject area teacher would deal with it? They look at me as if I am crazy, and then I mention that is much how we treat the notion of digital citizenship. This is on all of us.

I recently shared the idea of “3 Things Students Should Have Before They Leave High School“, but often remind educators that this is not something that starts in high school, but should be part of the fabric of our schools at all levels.  This is either in modelling or helping students create.  This is not to say that students all have to be using social media, but at least the option is there to ensure that the understand the implications of a positive, negative, or neutral footprint.

Stephen Downes commented on this idea, and I loved his thoughts:

I get the general idea, and support it, but I think the description is way too narrow. I’d rather see people have much more than an about.me page and personal portfolio – I think they should have a wider online presence with credentials, tools, artifacts, and whatever else they need. The same with a social network – but not just a ‘social network’ but wide-ranging interactions with people inside and outside their own field.

I couldn’t agree with him more, but definitely believe there needs to be a starting point and emphasis on teaching this in schools.  The shift from “digital citizenship” to simply “citizenship” (since technology is just part of our world) probably won’t happen without putting an emphasis and placing some of these ideas at the forefront.  This is not the work of “specialty” educators, but something we all have a responsibility towards.

2. Digital Portfolios

Building upon the first idea, I think there is a huge power in “Digital Portfolios” to not only help build a footprint, but transform practices in learning and assessment. We have often seen learning in “chunks” in school practice (grade two to grade three, etc.), but is something that is continuous and messy.

Years ago, I wrote a comprehensive plan on the “blogs as digital portfolios“, and really explored the impact it could have on helping connecting learning throughout the school and amongst different subject areas.  This should not be limited to any specific class or grade level, but something that actually becomes an opportunity to not only reflect, create, and connect, but also helps to provide authentic examples of student owned learning.  That being said, if we are to be successful with this type of opportunity, it would make a huge impact if educators had their own versions of digital portfolios, to really understand the impact this could have learning.  This is a “barrier” that could easily become an opportunity.

3. Embracing the Innovator’s Mindset

For any of these things to happen, or other opportunities, we need to embrace a mindset that is open to conducive learning, while also helping to develop it in our students. The “innovator’s mindset” is defined by the following:


With ideas such as genius hour, maker spaces, innovation day/week, and a whole myriad of other ideas for powerful creation to connect learning, it is important that we think differently about learning, and help develop that mindset with our students.

I love this idea from the Center for Accelerated Learning on learning as “creation”:

Learning is Creation, Not Consumption. Knowledge is not something a learner absorbs, but something a learner creates. Learning happens when a learner integrates new knowledge and skill into his or her existing structure of self. Learning is literally a matter of creating new meanings, new neural networks, and new patterns of electro/chemical interactions within one’s total brain/body system.

Krissy Venosdale also shared a powerful image on what “learning” looks like.

This mindset should not be limited to our students, but to all of those involved in education.


To achieve these goals in a meaningful way, we have to realize that it will take a whole community approach, and cannot be left to the few to achieve.  This takes a change in mindset while also creating the need for leadership to remove barriers to unleash talent which leads to innovative opportunities.  What I believe is the real power of these initiatives, is that these ideas I have shared are not an endpoint, but only a beginning. When we create a culture of sharing, innovative flourishes. Embracing the idea that everyone is a teacher and everyone is a learnerand that these roles will change multiple times daily, is the only way that any initiative will truly succeed in our schools today.

Categories: Planet

4 Tips to Develop Great Teacher Leaders

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 24 June, 2015 - 06:46

The books and best practices that change everything in your classroom

Teachers who are leaders change the world one student at a time. Leaders are readers. Leaders are learners.  But where do we start? What do we read? What do we learn?

Be a multiplier.

According to the book, Multipliers, there are two kinds of leaders: multipliers and diminishers. Some leaders help a person operate at more than they are capable of doing. Then there are those sad souls who diminish others. Poor teacher leaders have students wallowing the squalor of low performance.

Teacher Leader Tip #1: Leadership is often neglected in teacher education courses. Educating yourself on what teacher  leadership looks like comes first. Read books like Multipliers and What Great Teachers Do Differently. Understand the characteristics of great leaders. Listen to and Act Upon Feedback from Your Students.

In Todd Whitaker’s 1993 research on what makes excellent principals, he found they “routinely consult teacher leaders for input before making a decision.” (What Great Teachers Do Differently, p 92) We should do the same with students.

College professor Dean Shareski asks after every assignment, “How can this assignment be better?”  For example, in a flipped classroom assignment, one student asked, “why not have us create a flipped classroom lesson?” Dean said that suggestion was an obvious improvement.

Teacher Leader Tip #2: Ask after each assignment or unit: How can this assignment be better? Take the time to listen to your students via anonymous surveys or focus groups. Help Students See Their Value and Worth.

Booker T. Washington said,

“Most leaders spend time trying to get others to think more highly of them when instead, they should try to get their people to think more highly of themselves.”

When a student is underperforming, I’ve found that it is often an internal struggle. Before students can succeed, they must try. Before students try, they must have hope. Hope comes from knowing that you either have the strength or someone will help you.

Teacher Leader Tip #3: Help students find their individual strengths. Teachers should be hope-inspiring coaches on the learning journey. Unleash the Power of Yet.

In Carol Dweck’s TED Talk, she shares how  people with a growth mindset will say, “I’m not good at ____ yet.” In her research, she calls people who think they have fixed abilities: “fixed mindset.” These people rarely level up and are grossly incorrect when they self-assess their talents. Fixed mindset people resist learning.

Those who adopt a “growth mindset” believe that they can improve and level up. Growth mindset people see their abilities as separate from their worth as a person. Growth mindset people learn.

Incredibly, a growth mindset makes all the difference, AND IT CAN BE TAUGHT. A growing body of knowledge on metacognition helps us teach the growth mindset.

Teacher Leader Tip #4: Understand what a growth mindset is by reading Mindset and other research. Learn the metacognitive techniques that will help your students overcome problems and develop grit. Admit your own “not yet” items to your students as you journey to learn too.

When faced with mediocrity or injustice, leaders stand up and say “It is not going to be this way.”  Leaders are visionaries who see a brighter future just past the problem. Most importantly, leadership can be learned and taught. We need teachers to rise up and lead. We need open minds and a willingness to help students (and ourselves) achieve more.
For when a teacher leads, they are teaching far more than content knowledge, but spawn the leaders of tomorrow.

The post 4 Tips to Develop Great Teacher Leaders appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog.

Categories: Planet

Some teachers get frustrated trying to reach kids. This teacher has the answer.

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 23 June, 2015 - 10:31

ECM 154: How 30-Year-Teacher James Sturtevant figured out how to relate to most students.

Kids don’t get teachers. Teachers don’t get kids. Times change. Life can be hard for some kids. How do we connect when we’re so different? We need trust. We need respect. We need learning to happen. Here’s how.

James has taught for thirty years. Although he’s been trained on many tools, James believes most teacher education training misses the point. Teaching is about relationships.

Listen on iTunes

Listen to James Sturtevant online.

When we lose sight of the fact that education is a people business, we get in trouble. @jamessturtevant #edreformPowered By the Tweet This PluginTweet This

Don’t believe him? Then, believe the American Psychological Association. Here’s what they say on their website,

“Positive teacher-student relationships — evidenced by teachers’ reports of low conflict, a high degree of closeness and support, and little dependency — have been shown to support students’ adjustment to school, contribute to their social skills, promote academic performance and foster students’ resiliency in academic performance (Battistich, Schaps, & Wilson, 2004; Birch & Ladd, 1997; Curby, Rimm-Kaufman, & Ponitz, 2009; Ewing & Taylor, 2009; Hamre & Pianta, 2001; Rudasill, Reio, Stipanovic, & Taylor, 2010).

Teachers who experience close relationships with students reported that their students were less likely to avoid school, appeared more self-directed, more cooperative and more engaged in learning (Birch & Ladd, 1997; Decker, Dona, & Christenson, 2007; Klem & Connell, 2004).”

We need positive relationships with our students. How do we do it?

Important Take Aways About Relating to Students
  • Add teacher James Sturdevant to your PLN @jamessturtevant
  • James’ book that was discussed in the show: You’ve Gotta Connect: Building Relationships That Lead to Engaged Students, Productive Classrooms, and Higher Achievement
  • Do you accept your students AS THEY ARE? James says teachers must have “radical acceptance.” “We must accept kids wherever they are.”
  • Was your first year a disaster  too? James’ first September as a teacher was awful. “They wanted nothing to do with me. That was the longest September of my life. At the end of that month, I felt like a failure.”
  • Can you let go of the “good old days” and focus on now?
  • Can you listen to your students so you can relate?

Alberty Einstein said

“If a is a success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut.”

There are times we need to listen to our students. This year, I’m going to be putting a timer on myself and limit my talking. As James said,

“Something in me told me ot shut up and listen to their conversatin and I would learn something.”

Kids need us. Students need us. They need us to be adults. We need to put on our listening ears and not just expect it from them. James’ wisdom from thirty years of teaching speaks to us all.

The post Some teachers get frustrated trying to reach kids. This teacher has the answer. appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog.

Categories: Planet

Encouraging Metacognition for Learning

Classroom 2.0 Diigo Group - 21 June, 2015 - 17:27


  • A critical component of learning is the ability to reflect on one's learning and the processes that occur while we are engaged in learning. If we are to develop independent, empowered learners then we need to build the skills required for metacognition both directly through the provision of suitable strategies and indirectly via the modeling of effective learning that we provide. - Nigel Coutts

Tags: education, learning

by: Nigel Coutts

Categories: International News

Getting out of Password Hell

Chris Betcher - 21 June, 2015 - 11:34

A while ago I realised that my online life was in password hell. I was using literally hundreds of sites and services that required passwords, but they were held together with a confusing mess of old passwords that I’d mostly forgotten, numerous passwords which were being used on more than one site,  passwords that didn’t meet the usual complexity rules usually required across the Internet, and so on. I often found myself having to do a password reset just to access a site, and of course that new password became yet another one I had to remember. Or forget.

I felt things were a little bit out of hand so I finally took a few steps to clean up my digital life.

First, using the same password for everything is an exceptionally stupid idea. Instead, I came up with my own system that helped me create hard-to-guess, but easy-to-remember passwords that I could apply to any site.  Having a clear system for this meant that when I signed up for some new online service I could quickly come up with a password that was memorable while also being unique to that site. It really helps to have a system. I made sure that my system always met the minimum complexity rules usually found online… that is, they contained uppercase, lowercase, numbers and symbols and were at least 8 characters long. If you do nothing else, come up with a system for your passwords! It’s so frustrating when you attempt to log in to a site that you’ve been to previously and can’t remember your password. So come up with a system for yourself, and please don’t just use the same password everywhere!

Secondly, I turned on multistep or 2-Factor authentication  for passwords on every site that offered this option (and there are a lot of them now). This is probably the single biggest thing you can do to improve the security of your online life. If you go online and don’t use 2 factor authentication, you’re not really serious about your online security. It’s that simple. I find it both amusing and frustrating when I hear people questioning the security of online services, and then find out they don’t use 2-Factor passwords. If you don’t use 2-Factor on every site that enables it,  please, don’t ever complain about the dangers of online security.  It just makes you sound silly. It’s not hard to set up, and if you use something like Google Authenticator to manage your second factors, it’s very simple to use.  The minor inconvenience of having to enter the second factor is far outweighed by the added security. Trust me on this. Turn it on. Now.

Finally, I set up a password manager. I chose LastPass,  but there are others. It took a while to get my head around how LastPass works but once I did, it made life so much easier. If you want to try LastPass for yourself you can get it on this link.

If you are in password hell like I was,  take some of these positive steps to sort it out.

Related posts:

  1. In Second Factor We Trust
  2. I just want to (edu)Blog!
  3. Dear Twitter… Help!

Categories: , Planet

LessonLAMS: Unterrichtsplanung kostenlos

Classroom 2.0 Diigo Group - 15 June, 2015 - 16:45


  • Intuitiv bedienbares webbasiertes Learning Design Tool. Drag & Drop Lerneinheiten. Kostenlose Templates. - Gaby K. Slezák

Tags: no_tag

by: Gaby K. Slezák

Categories: International News

Fuzzy Thinking for Long-Life Learning

Classroom 2.0 Diigo Group - 14 June, 2015 - 17:34


  • Recently I have found a number of ideas on the web that were particularly interesting and together paint a compelling picture of education's future. Each fits into a model where the focus is on developing skills, dispositions and habits that will last into the future - long life skills. - Nigel Coutts

Tags: education, learning, Finland

by: Nigel Coutts

Categories: International News
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