Are passwords necessary?

harringtonI got a thought-provoking email this morning from Michael Harrington at Batley Business & Enterprise College. In the context of the undeniable inconvenience of logins and passwords, Michael pointed out

A boy logging in and doing someone else’s work is making far more progress than sat complaining he cannot login!

Equally undeniable.

In the past, I have seen the passwords issue as a tradeoff between security and convenience, but Michael is looking deeper, and challenging what the security is for in the first place. If the aim is to control access to desirable resources (such as university places) then security has value. If the aim is to facilitate learning, then it simply gets in the way.

Which is all very well, but formative assessment places itself right in the centre-point of that spectrum. Teachers requirements of Yacapaca range from delivering exams through to enjoying a fun quiz.

I have absolutely no idea how to square this particular circle. With our current system we have simply followed convention, but it’s a long way from ideal. Your observations would be most welcome in the comments.


One response to “Are passwords necessary?”

  1. Great thought Michael. Potential to sabotage a ‘gradebook’, but I guess that doesn’t really matter! I’d be happy to give passwordless yacapaca a trial, but of course I will not be the one creating such a system, nor having to pick up the pieces if the idea falls apart… That’d be your job again Ian!

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