Teaching and Learningᵀᴹ

A True Back-to-School Story

Andrew Freiband
6 min readSep 14, 2021
My “dashboard¹”

September 13, 2021

It’s been a pretty big week for students and for teachers! As a college professor and also a parent of two children, that means it’s been a double pretty big week for us, (because I’m a teacher, and they’re both students)!

First, wow, we are just so excited to be starting in a whole new school for my daughter, who is going into high school — and to be returning to in-person school for the first time since the pandemic began 18 months ago! In order to get her started with her school orientation via Zoomᵀᴹ, we just had to log into her new school Gmailᵀᴹ account, which will be her third school Gmailᵀᴹ account, since each time she moves up (from primary school, to middle school, to high school), she has to get a new Gmailᵀᴹ account.

Of course, the day of the orientation Zoomᵀᴹ, we had trouble logging in, so we emailed for help and they wrote back and said that the school Gmailᵀᴹ accounts had actually been rolled over into a Myschoolsᵀᴹ account.

Now I already had a Myschoolsᵀᴹ account, so we tried to use it, but it wasn’t quite so straightforward as all that, of course, because actually it turned out we have to make a new Myschoolsᵀᴹ account online for her, since the one we had was for me, as her parent.

So we did that but I couldn’t find any of her school information anywhere, so I asked the school and they said that actually I needed to set up a Mystudentᵀᴹ account instead. We did that, and then realized that oops, if I wanted to get emails from the school I needed to set up my own Mystudentᵀᴹ account as well.

When I went to set up my new account with my Gmailᵀᴹ address, it said I already had an account at Mystudentᵀᴹ! Apparently, I had set up a Mystudentᵀᴹ account at some distant point in the past which I had forgotten about, but only my younger child was listed on it. All I had to do was ‘Add a Student’ though and I could put both kids on that account. Easy. Unfortunately, though, I needed an Account Creation Code to do so, and who knew where I could find that? Not me!

I needed a little break from all that preparation for my kids’ education, and at the same time I also needed to make sure my college class was set up in time for the first meeting in just a few days! Exciting!

So I logged into my Onekeyᵀᴹ account at the college I teach in — let’s call it “Pratt,” you know, to keep it anonymous — to see if I had a class roster yet. I always get a teensy bit confused about where I can find my roster, so I logged in to the LMS only to find out that the school had migrated everything that had been on Moodleᵀᴹ over to Canvasᵀᴹ. Poor Moodleᵀᴹ! Is that an LMS? I forget.

Anyway, none of those actually had what I was looking for, and I realized I also didn’t know what my course schedule was, so I emailed the administrative assistant in my department and he helpfully gave me a link back to my Onekeyᵀᴹ login page and assured me it would be in the LMS there.

I tried the link to Kronosᵀᴹ that seemed to make sense since it sounded like it was about time, but I did not have the authorization to access Kronosᵀᴹ! I also tried Courseleafᵀᴹ which was a weird one because it just kept sending me back to log in to my Onekeyᵀᴹ account again. Then I realized, oooohhhhh maybe I’m not supposed to be in my Onekeyᵀᴹ account, but maybe I’m supposed to be in my myPrattᵀᴹ account! Clicked it, it sent me instead to my onePrattᵀᴹ account, which forwarded me and logged me automatically into my Onekeyᵀᴹ account again. I was glad that was all so streamlined actually, otherwise I might get confused about what each of those webpages was for!

You know what? Eventually, I’d figure out when my class was. I decided to stop worrying. And I figured that the students who were in it would know they were in it, and just show up, so why did I need to know who they were in advance? I’d better get the class together.

I’d need supplies! I tried logging into ESMᵀᴹ but, again, no luck as I didn’t have the right authorization. Maybe I could just get the syllabus together, and for that I knew all I had to do was log in to Digicationᵀᴹ, which should connect to Canvasᵀᴹ automatically, right? Maybe Canvasᵀᴹ already does what Digicationᵀᴹ does, though? I feel like I remember Moodleᵀᴹ did…. I ran a search in 25Liveᵀᴹ but it came up empty, because apparently that’s not for searching this sort of information at all. Then I realized I can use my Onekeyᵀᴹ account to access my academic account at Milanoteᵀᴹ and set up some of the classroom materials (actually I only did this because when I tried to do it through our Docuwareᵀᴹ account the server wasn’t responding, so I changed my mind and since “Milanoteᵀᴹ is the Evernoteᵀᴹ for creative people” (according to its log-in page) I was convinced that Milanoteᵀᴹ is for me and my students, because we’re creative people, and not the sort of dull-minded drones who would ever log in to Evernoteᵀᴹ.

Silly me made the mistake of also opening Starfishᵀᴹ when in fact what I wanted to log into was Launchpadᵀᴹ, because at first I wanted to make sure me and my class could log into Creative Cloudᵀᴹ via the AWS Appstreamᵀᴹ (and I love how it connects automatically to Google Driveᵀᴹ). But when I opened Starfishᵀᴹ I read that it ‘supports student success and academic confidence!’ by helping me list my office hours, and I realized why bother typing that into a syllabus to give to my students when they can access that information through their own Onekeyᵀᴹ account instead!

By this point I was feeling pretty lost so I went back to my own Onekeyᵀᴹ dashboard and was happy to find Webadvisorᵀᴹ, which now that I think about it may be where my class roster is! It was down for maintenance though, so I decided I’d better get back to making sure my kids’ accounts were all in order, since they were going to school the next morning.

Fortunately my youngest would be using the same Google Classroomᵀᴹ account that he did last year, but it turned out that my daughter, going into a new school, was going to have her Googleᵀᴹ accounts rolled over into Pupilpathᵀᴹ (or was it her Mystudentᵀᴹ account that was being rolled into Pupilpathᵀᴹ?). Either way, we needed to find her OSIS number to create the Pupilpathᵀᴹ account, and sure enough just like before it turned out that I need to create my own Pupilpathᵀᴹ account if I want to know what her homework is! Even though I thought that’s what Mystudentᵀᴹ was going to do….

With all that sorted out, it was comforting finally, considering the precarious state of public health, to set up our daily log-in to healthscreening.schools so we could do our daily health screening! Only it isn’t the kind of thing you actually log in to, but just visit as a guest every day.

Wouldn’t you know it, today, when the first day of school finally arrived, and every student and teacher in the whole city visited healthscreening.schools at pretty much the same time, the server was overloaded, and nobody could fill out their health screening! Instead, while we stood out in the soft early morning haze of September, lining the sidewalk and leaning against coarse red brick, the teachers came out to us and handed each of us a single sheet of white paper, upon which we wrote the names of our children, and the state of their immune system. That was a crazy way to start the school year.

¹Originally, the word dashboard applied to a barrier of wood or leather fixed at the front of a horse-drawn carriage or sleigh to protect the driver from mud or other debris “dashed up” (thrown up) by the horses’ hooves. The first known use of the term (hyphenated as dash-board, and applied to sleighs) dates from 1847*. — via Wikipedia

*Subsequently used to refer to a panel on the screen of one’s digital device that is covered with the bullshit output of hyperactive software developers with little to no practical experience in the process of teaching, but who are happy to contract, at great expense, with educational institutions to ‘streamline’ things. — via the author



Andrew Freiband

Filmmaker, Teacher, Researcher, Founder and Director of the Artists Literacies Institute (artistsliteracies.org)