Are your staff and students happy about remembering multiple usernames and passwords? Is your technology team enjoying creating separate username and password combinations for each system/software in your school district (not to mention that each system has it’s own password restrictions)? I highly doubt it.
For the past 6 years of my career, I have continually been flabbergasted by the amount of time and energy school districts spend on creating user accounts for staff and students. The so called “active” directory becomes so fragmented that managing user accounts literally becomes unmanageable. This causes each department to spend massive amounts of time managing user account data that is never in sync with any other system. As a result, users (staff and students) are frustrated with remembering how to login. This is NOT a good model for any school district.
For the past 6 years of my career, I have continually been flabbergasted by the amount of time and energy school districts spend on creating user accounts for staff and students.
Welcome to the World of Single Sign On
For years, Single Sign On (SSO) has been the solution for this problem. Unfortunately, school districts have fostered the bad habit of adopting a software solution before investigating if the software solution provides a SSO solution. I would argue that if a piece of software does not provide SSO, the software should not be adopted (yes I said it and I know that it’s extreme). Google Apps for Education (GAFE) provides school districts with FREE tools to allow their staff and students to have a seamless login experience. The process goes like this:
- Create an account in an Active Directory (1 username, 1 password)
- Allow staff and students to sign into all systems with their GAFE account.
Note: I did not say create 1 account for Google, 1 account for Windows, 1 account for a gradebook, 1 account for company xyz. This is where I see school districts create their own problems.
I would argue that if a piece of software does not provide SSO, the software should not be adopted.
Fighting the Vendor Battle
I often hear the excuse that “Company XYZ” does not provide a SSO solution, yet the software MUST be adopted. This mentality has allowed vendors to dictate educational practices. If school districts would unite together and refuse to use companies without SSO solutions, the software vendors would be forced to adapt. If this were to happen, we would slowly see school districts migrating to 1 username and 1 password. If a new student moves to the district, 1 username and 1 password is created. If a staff member changes their name, you change the account information in 1 location.
If school districts would unite together and refuse to use companies without SSO solutions, the software vendors would be forced to adapt.
In my next post I will discuss the first steps to creating a “digital hub”. This hub would allow information to be served through a SSO solution, providing users and network administrators with a seamless process for managing user data.