One of the big pain points in our digital classrooms today, is the myriad of passwords student have to remember. Many services have sprung up to resolve this challenge (Google, Microsoft, Clever) and even some standards along the way (such as IMS LTI). Big publishers still refuse to use external login services (and we can see strategically why they are doing this), and some resources will remain password-driven.
A word about Passwords
Passwords are extremely critical in today's online-driven classrooms. It is the only way to easily and quickly identify a user regardless of device they are using. But it can become a pain point if every service needs a password. We recommend you read this article about how passwords really work to appreciate how important and secure they are.
Single-Sign On (SSO)
Single-Sign On is a relatively new technology that starts with the premise that, maybe you (on your computer) are not authenticated, but someone else that knows you (i.e. a server somewhere) IS authenticated. So we ask that server to vouch that you are who you are. Simple.
This is why you get the Google / Facebook popup when you try to login to some of your sites. These sites are asking Google or Facebook to promise that you are somebody, and to share some information about you.
The challenge then is to make sure Google or Facebook know who we are (and trust us) to send us over your information.
Clever works the exact same way, by the way.
Choosing an SSO service
From an SSO perspective, they are very similar. All the Open Educational Resources (See this article) we have surveyed use either (or both) Google (thanks to Google Classroom) and Clever. So either will do the job.
If you are a Microsoft School or District, you may face some challenges using your MS Online logins, as not all services support that yet. So you could have an alternative login for your students using either service.
What if my favorite application does not support SSO
This happens more often than not, things like School Information Systems (SIS), District services, and so on, will unlikely be integrated to an SSO service.
This could be a big pain point for teachers who may need to perform such activities as enter student attendance or view school information, on another service.
We have created an autoLogin feature in ClassroomAPP (no one else, that we know of, can do that .. at least not yet). It can remember your passwords for you and log you in automatically. You simply log in the first time and from this point on, the App will log you in every time you go to that resource.
This was an article stub (a short article). Hope you enjoyed it. It simply opens up the possibilities available for authentication. This is a technical issue, so drop us a line if we can help in any way.