Like most schools our ICT Infrastructure includes use of a network , using log ins and passwords to enable students to access their particular drive spaces.
This was a problematic process for some of my students, for a number of reasons. As a school we had established a system of class log ins, rather than individual students drive spaces. This means that children share a drive space per class, and in addition I inherited a system, where drive spaces were allocated to year groups, rather than classes, and so as classes changed every year so did their log ins. The first thing I did was to change this protocol, enabling the log ins and therefore drive spaces to move with each class, as they progress through the school. Recycling drive spaces used by Year 6 students in their final year, for use by the new year 1 students in the new academic year. This has had immediate benefits, in developing use of the network for children this year since they were already able to log in.
In addition to this however experience told me that students once logged in frequently had difficulty in finding their personal folders, and in organising their work. As a staff we also had difficulties due to the previous network protocol in managing assessment, since students work would be distributed about the network according to which class they had been in in previous years. My solution to this has been to create a common home drive structure fo each class. This may seem complex, and potentially long drawn out but was actually easier than it sounds ... Honestly. The benifits far out weigh the work that went into this anyway. Using the pictorial representation of a folder most children from year 2, and all from year 3 to year 6 are now able to find their home drive and personal folder, and to save and open files from these. We also now have a potential individual portfolio of evidence for each child from their current year to the end of the primary stage, through the introduction of "cascade Saving" to these. where children have been taught to save drafts with original file names and numbers to represent the save time, and draft version of the file. This hopefully will enable review of progression through tasks and units of work.
Creating the Folder Structure
Create a new folder called class home drive structure. Inside this Create one new folder called student_1. Inside this create one year group folder called year_one, and inside this create 6 new folders named for each term or half term. Return to student folder, and copy and paste this 6 times renaming each for the year groups who use your network, ie yr_1, Yr_2 etc.
Return to the drive structure folder and copy and paste each folder, renaming as student_2, student_3 etc. I made 36 folders in all.
Carry out a google search for "icons," choose images you like or that you think will appeal to the students you work with. Mine were Sesame Street, Disney and other cartoon characters. I created an "icons" folder in the shared documents folder on my computer, and then copied the icons I had chosen to this folder.
Open the Class home drive structure folder, and with each student folder you made, left click and then click properties. Now click on the customize tab and then the change icon button. Next browse for the icon folder you made, and choose the picture you would like to be shown for the folder, and click ok until you return to the folder view. Repeat this process for each folder, using a different icon for each.
Copy your Icons Folder and Class home Drive Structure to a portable storage device, eg a floppy disc or a flash drive, for transportation to school. In school log on as each class individually, use select all to copy the folders inside the home drive folder, to the class shared space. Copy the icon folder to the shared documents folder on the computer's c:\ drive. Copying the icons folder is a laborious task, and the longest part of this solution, as this has to be done on each individual machine.
Alternative to the above, would be to ask your technician or managed service provider to do this. They should not have any difficulties, in achieveing this on your behalf.
Once the drive structures and Icons were in place, during an ICT session each child was asked to choose their image, and the folder was renamed for them. There is something about this process which has enabled and supported the learning of how to save and open files. So far this term it has been perhaps the most successful implementation I have made, since it cuts down on the support needed even for some of my special needs students to work with network drive spaces. My research work seems to reflect that repetitive action is one of the means by which we learn and aquire new ICT skills, perhaps the repetition of a standardised saving and opening process has been key to the success of this implimentation.