It’s back-to-school season! Whether or not you’re ready, it’s time for students and teachers alike to start prepping for school—and that means getting your tech ready for the new year. Regardless of if you’ll be teaching in person, virtually, or a combination of the two, you’ll probably be using technology at some point during your day. And for schools with 1-to-1 technology, you’ll probably be using it for most of the day. The good news is, you don’t have to be a computer expert. You just need to understand the basics and who to contact if you need help.
So if you’re a new teacher, someone who is uncomfortable with technology, or even just an educator who wants a quick refresher, this article is for you. Use this handy checklist to ensure you—and the programs and devices you use—are ready.
Check your Hardware
Charge and power up all the devices you use for teaching—including laptops, desktops, tablets, printers, mice, keyboards, and any other pieces of equipment you use. Make sure they all work as expected and check for any updates. Get everything charged up and ready to go for day one. If you’re heading into the classroom, make sure your chargers are packed up, too.
Check your Internet
While there’s no way to prevent internet outages from time to time, it’s important to check your connection speed at home or in the classroom. Is it strong enough to use the programs you need to? If not, can you use an ethernet cable to achieve a better speed?
Download and Install Programs
Check your Operating System
Before the school year starts is a great time to check your operating system to make sure you’re up to date. Whether you’re a Windows, Mac, or Linux user, if there are big updates, it’s better to install at least a week or two before school starts—if possible. This will give you time to do any necessary troubleshooting.
Pre Download and Test
Before you do anything, get the programs you need downloaded and installed to test them. Make sure they run well on your device and try out all the features so you know the lay of the land. If you’re new to a program, check with your administrator or another teacher to see if your school offers training. If you run into issues, contact the manufacturer or your school’s IT department for assistance.
Check for Updates
Even if you’ve used a program before, check for updates before the start of the school year. It’s not uncommon for big features to change the look and feel of a program, so this will ensure you aren’t caught off guard on day one.
Use Relevant Security Protocols
Usernames and Passwords
One of the quickest—and easiest—ways to get your tech ready for school is to check your usernames and passwords. While nothing is ever totally secure, using these practices will help keep bad actors at bay and ensure you follow FERPA requirements.
First, make sure you know your login information for programs you use regularly. This will cut down on having to hunt down passwords or click the “Forgot password” button. If you have trouble remembering passwords, programs like LastPass, Enpass, and KeePass can help.
Second, make sure your passwords are secure. Best practices include:
- Check your passwords. Many browsers and programs can let you know if your password has been compromised.
- Avoid common words or phrases, as well as personal information (like a birthday) that’s easily guessed.
- The longer the better. Passphrases longer than 12 characters are now recommended.
- Don’t reuse or recycle passwords. Set up new, different passwords for each of your programs.
If you’re using a virtual classroom or meeting space, like Zoom, Teams or Google Hangouts, use the security features available to you. You’ve probably heard of Zoombombing (or bad actors maliciously entering a virtual meeting) so using security features can help protect you and your students.
For example, you can lock a room once your meeting has started, control screen sharing so students or bad actors can’t take it over, require a password to enter, or enable a waiting room so you decide who enters. You should also familiarize yourself with how to lock down a chat or remove a user in case a situation arises where you need to act quickly.
Get your Students and their Parents or Guardians Ready
Before the school year begins, it may be helpful to create some classroom rules about technology. For example, what kinds of things are allowed in chat, how best to contact you virtually, and other general web-safety rules. You can post these in your classroom or on your LMS—just make sure they’re easily viewable.
If you teach in a secondary school, your students’ parents or guardians will likely have questions about the programs you’re using, rules around devices (especially personal devices), and how they can contact you. Get ready with an FAQ document that you can provide during registration or back-to-school night.
Know Where to go for Help
Understand who you can turn to for help. Does your school have an IT person or department? Do you contract with an IT service? Or, do you have a system-wide representative for your LMS or virtual meeting space? Make sure you have contact information—including an email address and a phone number—for these important contacts.
Moser Consulting is Here for You
If you’re a leader at a secondary or post-secondary school, you understand how important technology is to the day-to-day work of your educators. At Moser Consulting, we have more than two decades of experience providing innovative solutions to help solve technology problems. Whether you’re looking to implement a new learning management system, improve security for your institution, or design a user-friendly system for your students, we can help. Send us a message today.