Passwords are everywhere! I have so many combinations, many times it is tough to remember which one is used for what app. We all have smartphones today and it compounds this, especially when a new iPhone comes out every year. We have all dealt with it. Is it with a 1 at the end or did I add a 2 now? Wait. Was that the one with the capital letter?
Thankfully, there are technologies out there that can help alleviate this struggle. Single Sign On and network technologies like Identity Services Engine allows for districts to work towards providing a great learning experience for staff and students. I have 4 main reasons for the adoption of these technologies.
#1 It is more secure
Do you know how many web sites on which you have an account? I do. It's over 120. Perhaps, you don't have as many as me, but it might seem like it. That is a lot of information to remember: usernames, email addresses used to register the account, passwords and maybe even the URL for the site. If you are like most online users, you may have just a handful of passwords that you use on several sites. While this makes remembering them easy, it is bad practice. In the last year, there have been several public attacks in which passwords were disclosed by the attackers. If the password you use across several sites was disclosed, an attacker might try to use it for one of your other accounts.
Introduce Single Sign on (SSO)
While it appears like a simple measure, single sign-on may dramatically reduce the amount of typing and tapping you do on a mobile phone. Now, when Mrs. Smith wants to read her mail using a web browser, she typically navigates to a webpage like https://www.office.com. For a federated Office 365 domain, Microsoft will not ask for a username and password to log in, but instead redirect the browser to the Identity Provider for authentication.
Where you would probably see this happen in your day to day is when you download a new app or sign up for the first time online to something. You might see these options in the sign up. This uses the same technology. No username and password are exchanged. The information is passed via a token. I want to keep this post as non-technical as possible so I won't get into how this happens.
#2 It saves time
On average, users take 5–20 seconds to log in to an online app. It can take longer if they mistype their username or password and are prompted to reenter them. With SSO in place, manually logging in to online services is avoided. These saved seconds reduce frustration and add up to increased productivity. On the left you see our Office 365 waffle. When we first implemented Office 365 in our district, it was important for user adoption to be high. So when we deployed, we didn't deploy the Office client. The web client requirement meant that users were constantly being exposed to a majority of what we offered. This increased the user adoption of many of the other programs besides the Office 365 suite since we used Clever and Azure AD authentication techniques. Then a SSO requirement for future app adoptions allowed us to insert those tiles in the waffle and giving the user a single experience while also auto rostering their students and classes in the solutions.
For those of you interested in implementing SSO in your district, the Center for Digital Education has a great resource below.
#3 It gives focus
Many districts struggle with implementing and sun-setting of software and data solutions. When a district is purposeful in connecting the dots of these solutions to provide best practice, many times when they are not seen as conjoined mostly because to the user they are disparate systems. The login, professional development, and how the app is presented make all the difference in the world to building the communications and story of support.
#4 It provides a different highway for information
Networks are evolving. We depend so much on them today. Network convergence is the efficient coexistence of telephone, video and data communication within a single network. The use of multiple communication modes on a single network offers convenience and flexibility that are not possible with separate infrastructures. The mediums are changing as well. We power devices over the wire now and wireless is becoming the end user experience standard for internet activity. Mobility is driving this.
In Omaha Public Schools, we are transitioning. Planned Obsolescence is driving more mobile devices as we adopt a mobile first strategy. As a result, our wireless needs to evolve to accommodate this.
In the diagram below, you can see that in the old wireless strategy, we presented different wireless IDs but technically were on the same network.
In the end, it is about learning. These things are back end technologies. Not seen. But implemented properly, will provide efficiencies in time, and present multiple solutions with clarity, all while being secure.