Most school boards make use of an “active directory” whereby all users have unique login IDs and passwords. Makes sense. An active directory is necessary to ensure that online resources are being used appropriately. All of my learners have their own access, which enables them to save documents on the school directory, to keep folders, create e-Portfolios using OneNote, etc. What with continuous intake and all, this needs to be regularly updated.
To make a frustrating story short, the last round of username updates resulted in a resetting of all usernames. At first I was worried that the students’ documents were gone as well, since they needed to re-enter their usernames, and then reset passwords. As it turns out, formerly saved word docs were still alive and well. OneNote, however, was wiped clean and reset to default.
If you remember, OneNote was where I had been creating student e-Portfolios for my piloted Project-based PBLA-ized SLT program (try saying that five times quickly, bet you can’t…). Since we love acronyms so much, I’ll just refer to the above as PBPBLASLT. I like how it almost spells “blast”, because that’s what happened to the OneNote e-Portfolios.
That makes the second time the usernames have been reset; the first time didn’t impact us as we hadn’t set up OneNote. This time, we were ONE day away from our final Company Project deadlines, which included a printed copy of the e-Portfolios. Additionally, when the usernames were reset, learners had to wait until our IT department could address the problem and get them back online. In the meantime, they had no access to their files (until about 2:00pm). So they lost a day’s access to some of their files, resulting in overtime in the lab (read:learners frantically pulling their pieces together from assorted thumb-drives and email accounts, staying in the lab three hours after their peers had left for the day.)
The students impressed me with their back-up skills. Some had actually asked me how they could back up OneNote, but I made the mistake of assuring them that OneNote worked a bit differently, and that it backed itself up on the directory (hence, the notable absence of a “Save” icon in the toolbar). I hadn’t yet been keyed into the fact that a system-wide username reset would reset OneNote to default.
What I Learned
I can create OneNote “skeleton” files of the e-Portfolios, and save to a thumbdrive. The students had been using a wiki, or file sharing forum on our “Learning Management System”. Because of the multi-user collaboration functions of the LMS, the majority of the group project files were already uploaded, in preparation for the presentations in the hall.
Thus, I went into the LMS (thank you, LearnIT2Teach and http://www.edulinc.org), uploaded all of the files, and recreated the majority of the OneNote files. What is lost, forever, is their rough work, their individual efforts at a task before the group selected the one to represent the group (unless that was also saved), and the drawings sketched using the interactive whiteboard function. And also the screen shot collections for a part of their brainstorming activity.
The students were stressed about The Great Username Reset, but they also had other things to focus their attention on, plus they could still get online using the generic login codes.
The Company Project was a roaring success, by the way. The students were bombarded with questions, comments, and compliments (the presentation was in the main corridor, and the groups competed to get student votes for best business plan.) I’ll talk more about Project-Based learning in another blog.
On the positive side, I have vowed to thoroughly explore every nook and cranny of OneNote. I will learn its every function because when properly used, and backed up, it is the best candidate thus far to be a composite PBLA e-Portfolio. Oh yeah, and it is also super awesome for lesson planning and module tracking.