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Passwords can be troublesome even for me, but I have adopted certain patterns for being able to produce and recall the secret codes for my many online accounts and identities.  However, many students are challenged with creating and keeping passwords, which at minimum will cause hassles in productivity.  Technology is much more efficient than the old ways of record keeping, but as more data becomes digital, organization of data is crucial.  This is even more important for password recall because it is the key to give you access to the information or tools that you need.

Technology integration into the curriculum has many challenges.  Teachers, administrators, and parents form a wide variety of stakeholders in any educational system, and among these groups, there are people who resist technology for many different reasons.  Students, on the other hand tend to embrace technology, but perhaps aren’t always aware of the responsibilities or organizing a digital life.  In my English classes, I have seen this first hand.  When students don’t remember their passwords it causes major hindrances in the lesson.

In my school, students already have to keep track of at least 4 passwords just for school related online activity.  This does not count digital information from their private lives.  As I come across useful web 2.o tools that can be integrated into my lessons, sometimes I am hesitant because it requires yet another password.  There are so many wonderful sites and activities that are language based, which will allow students creative ways to express their understanding in written, visual, and oral forms.  However, to prepare students for the onslaught of online resources, they need to have a plan for organizing their digital lives.

Geoff Cain (2011), Director of Distance Education at the College of Redwoods, has proposed an idea in his blog, DE 101: Preparing students for online learning.  He basically lays out the need for a preliminary course that puts students in contact with web 2.0 tools and other software, prior to taking content specific courses online.  This will help students learn these skills in true academic context, but at the same time it builds a foundation of knowledge that they can apply to the content specific courses as part of their later studies.  I strongly support this notion, and similar to Cain, many universities have a similar approach to preparing students for online programs.  Unfortunately, there is very little evidence of such strategies at the K-12 level.  For the most successful integration, curriculum planners should see the necessity of technology training and platforms that can be used across all subject areas.

When a prerequisite course or training is established for students, the educator can begin to build digital organization skills.  The first thing to establish is a reliable storage platform where students and teachers can safely store their passwords.  Lifehacker (2008) offers 5 recommended solutions for managing passwords.  Whether or not the computer equipment is standardized, a teacher can establish a password management system.  Even though organization requires personal commitment, we can strive as educators to create a learning environment that rewards organization.  Richard Byrne (2011) wrote Cool Tools: Digital Aids for Staying Organized, which lists some ideas for organizing information with efficient online tools.  Teachers can benefit from standardizing a particular tool so that students are not only equally informed of course content, but also can grow their organizational skills.

In conclusion, I believe an English course can benefit from having a strong technology foundation where students are prepared to organize their digital existence.  However, I believe if any educational institution is going to integrate learning platforms and learning tools, all content areas could benefit from students taking a preliminary technology course.