Trouble with Passwords

5 Mar

One of the general struggles people have with technology is how to come up with and remember passwords for all the many accounts they have online.  We’ve all be told not to use anything obvious, anything connected to our lives that other people might know (the name of a pet for example).  When creating a password for an online site there are often rules like you need to include at least one capital letter and a number.  Sometimes you need to include a non alphanumeric symbol and sometimes you cannot use one.  Sometimes the password must be at least 8 characters long, sometimes at least 14 characters long, sometimes exactly 6 characters long.  So any system you come up with is always going to end up falling outside some set of rules somewhere, sometime.

From the research I’ve done the best solution is to use a password vault or safe (what’s that?) of some sort that will create and remember random passwords for you, so the only password you have to create and remember is the one to the password

vault.  But which password vault?  And will it work across all my devices?  I tried Dashlane but it was cumbersome on my phone and I gave up.

Your password is incorrect

Your password is incorrect

I just came across an article on the move to get away from the password  Passwords Are Terrible — And These Companies Want To Kill Them which is interesting although still feels far away from now.  What do you do about passwords?  How do you handle passwords when using accounts with students?

Here is another interesting article on Four Methods to Create a Secure Password You’ll Actually Remember.

Technology Continuum

27 May

I get so irritated by the digital native/digital immigrant dichotomy–especially when the dichotomy is associated purely with the year one was born.  There are times when talking about large groups and generations in broad terms is useful, but in this particular case I find the concepts used more as an excuse for using or not using technology on a small group level, and that is not so helpful.  

The image below is a particularly egregious example of the common definition of the two separate worlds of the digital immigrant and digital native. Of course the central image for the digital immigrant is a cartoon of a grandmother and a young boy for digital native; nothing in between. 


Ironically I found this image on a blog post that includes the following statement “I personally believe I am a digital immigrant but according to the age brackets for digital native I have fallen in that bracket which I am surprised by as I am quite technological illiterate although I am improving with the help of this subject. I hope to become more technologically fluent as I use technology more.”  This is part of the danger of this dichotomy, that people apply the terms even when they don’t feel true to their own experience.

Rather than a dichotomy, I prefer to think of people being on a continuum regarding their interaction with technology and I see technology as a set of tools. A person’s location on the continuum is determined by their experiences in life and the technology tools they come into contact with and find use for.  Think of a technology tool you use now and what led you to adopt it.  How did that happen?  Was it based on your age or on access and what your friends/colleagues were doing?

I like what Douglas Adams had to say in his essay How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet”. I always like Douglas Adams had to say.  Admittedly I’m glossing over his use of “invented” and instead choosing to interpret his meaning to be when one first experienced things.  

“1) everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal;

2) anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it;

3) anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.”

Where are you on the continuum?  Why?

QR Codes Using Kaywa

16 May

It’s a bit of an understatement to say that I’m a big fan of QR Codes (those black and white squares you have seen all over the place).  As part of the celebration around Digital Learning day I recorded a webinar on QR Codes so if you want to learn more about how they can be used in education I suggest you check it out.  But since I made that recording, the tool I used to generate my QR Codes, the URL shortener, Bitly, no longer allows for the creation of QR Codes. Your old codes still work, but you cannot create new codes.

What now?  Isn’t this one of the greatest fears around using technology in teaching (or life in general)?  That you find some great tool and then one day when you try to use it, it has changed/gone away/now costs money?  It was a hard blow.  I hoped the change was temporary, but after a few weeks had passed without any change, I actually contacted Bitly and they confirmed that they no longer support the generation of QR Codes, no further explanation.

And what do we do when this happens?  Well, if we’re going to persevere we have to search for a new tool–and that’s just what I did, I googled “how to make a QR Code.”  I found QR Stuff which makes QR codes for lots of things beyond URL’s, but the QR Code it creates has to be downloaded in a file type that isn’t very useful for my purposes.  So I have moved on Kaywa to generate my QR Codes.

Kaywa allows unlimited creation of static QR Codes and you can right click on the image of the QR Code to copy it and then paste it into a word document or onto a PowerPoint slide—or save it as a jpeg etc.

A note on static vs dynamic QR Codes–As I mentioned, Kaywa allows unlimited static QR Codes, but it limits you to 5 free dynamic QR Codes. Dynamic QR Codes allow you to edit the URL that the QR Code points to. For the purposes of education, I find that static codes do the job, because I use the QR Code to send people to a website or web content. Then I can change the content but the URL stays the same. I’m not against dynamic QR Codes at all, but I like free, so static QR Codes work for me.

Your turn!  Try out using Kaywa to generate your QR Codes and tell us how you are using QR Codes with students or for your program.  We put a QR Code on our catalog of professional development workshops—when scanned, it takes you to our registration website which is mobile friendly so you can register right then and there.


10 Oct

For tweeting, sharing links in presentations, of Facebook  and emails, being able to shorten URL’s is a very handy ability.  Long URL’s take up space and often get broken when shared.  There are a number of online tools to shorten URL’s  and some websites (WordPress, New York Times, Huffington Post) and twitter platforms (Tweetdeck) automatically do this for you, but I want to talk a little bit about my favorite tool for shortening URL’s–

Shortening and Customizing Your Links

You can shorten URL’s using Bitly without creating Bitly account.  You copy the URL you want to shorten then go to, paste the URL in the box provided, click “shorten,” and your shortened link will be displayed for you to copy and use wherever you need to use it.  You can also customize the shortened link to make it say something about what it is a link to.  For instance if I’m posting a link to a lesson on the ProLiteracy website called “I’m a banana,” I will paste the URL into Bitly and it will create shortened link that looks like .  But then I can customize it to look like which is easy to remember and also lets the reader know what the link is to.

Creating QR Codes

You can also easily make QR (Quick response) codes from your Bitly links.  If I take the link and add a .qr at the end so it now looks like, the link is now to the QR code for that link. The QR code can make the link even easier to share in a PowerPoint for example where the audience members could use their cell phone QR readers to get straight to the site on their cell phones.

Bitly Sidebar

Another tool Bitly offers is a sidebar bookmarklet .  This allows you to use Bitly tools without opening another page or tab in your browser.  Once you add the sidebar you can

  1. Click on the Info+ link and watch clicks stats and more in real time.
  2. Tweet right from the Sidebar without leaving the page you’re on (must be signed in with a linked Twitter account).
  3. Keep checking back on the Sidebar to see updated Click stats, and stats for all clicks to the same long link.
  4. See in real time who else is talking about this page on Twitter, FriendFeed and blog comments.

Benefits of a Bitly Account

Everything above you can do without signing in to a Bitly account, but there is one particular tool that you can only access if you do create and sign into an account, and that is the ability to see personalized stats for your Bitly links.  Most of my Bitly links get 3 to 15 clicks, but one of my links got over 2000 clicks and I would never have know n that without Bitly.  When logged into your account on Bitly you can also see all the links you’ve shortened so it acts like a bookmarker too.


26 Apr

I’ve been talking about twitter, facebook, and blogging for adult education for a while now and on this blog I’m going to post all the information and links I have gathered.