28 September 2012

Sharing a Computer (with your Students/Co-workers/Spouse/Childen) Without Going Crazy

Classroom teacher:
Does the sound of your students asking to use your computer to check their email or print something give you an unrational fear?
Have you ever passed on checking your email because someone else was logged into the computer, and didn't want to log them out?

Windows XP Login
I hope you're ready to commit to the next half hour logging in to this machine.
 How often do fits of internal rage rumble inside (or outside) when you go to check your email/Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/Yahoo/etc., and have to logout your spouse? How many times accidentally commenting as *not* yourself before you consider quitting social media?

Computer frustration
You know this is you.
One of my favorite aspects of the Web 2.0 - Google/Facebook controlled internet is the ability to use a cornucopia of services without keeping a flashdrive of passwords and usernames at my disposal. It's a great time-saver to seamlessly move from site to site that I think someone under 20 doesn't really appreciate.

The flip-side of that ease of use, however, is that this always-on state of login culture is NOT station-sharing friendly. But no worries, there's hope for you yet. It requires you and yours to have separate opinions on browser preference, but I promise to extend the health of all your personal and working relationships.

Being logged into your GMail (or any service) is only really true on one browser at a time. Here's the setup on the media PC in our living room at home:

You CAN have it all.
Fortunately for our household, although we both cringe at IE, Beth and I happily coexist on Chrome and Firefox, our internet lives (usually) keeping an appropriate separation.

Application to the Classroom:
You CAN allow students to login to their email to print that paper, access a file, or check their grades as long as your IT department has provided you with at least two different browsers. If they haven't, you can work around with a flashdrive, but that's another story. You only need to remember which browser you're using and to ensure that they use the other.

This could even work on a shared class set of iPads or iPods. Most of the third-party browsers are not my favs, but at the very least students could split logins between mobile Safari and mobile Chrome

I've felt so much more freedom with sharing the computer in my classroom since I discovered this a couple years ago. The biggest advantage I've seen instructionally is catching absent kids up faster by accessing previous lessons, and encouraging students to USE the machine for quick internet searches as questions arise. A student USING an instructional computer in the classroom. Go figure. ;)

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Thanks for sharing!