In part one of our series on EdTech trends, we looked at the top three trends in 2018 and what they mean for schools. These trends—data-driven instruction, using technology to equip students with 21st century skills, and Google’s dominance in the classroom—all have the power to transform the way today’s students learn and perform.
These trends are vehicles for creating a more personalized, collaborative, and efficient learning experience that ultimately, will better prepare students for their future careers.
However, EdTech is not without its challenges. While the desire to adopt EdTech is strong among educators, the ability to do so is often lacking. Resource-strapped school districts with limited budgets are still struggling to adopt, and thus, leverage the benefits of the latest EdTech trends.
The solution to this challenge is identity and access management (IAM). In this second part of our three-part series, we discuss how IAM solutions facilitate EdTech adoption by making it quicker and easier to integrate and manage new applications and technologies, while using fewer resources.
How IAM Makes It Easier to Add New Applications and Technologies
The discussion about personalization doesn’t just apply to students. Each school district has its own infrastructure and technology requirements. Furthermore, even if IT is centralized across a district, the schools within that district may have the autonomy to make their own decisions regarding 1:1 programs, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies, and the amount and types of technology in classrooms. Therefore, school districts need the flexibility to support hybrid and heterogeneous infrastructures.
Some modern IAM solutions have the ability to support complex IT environments, centralizing identity management and enabling connectivity across applications and services. School districts can easily integrate cloud, on-premises, or Windows applications into their environment.
For example, with our IAM solution, RapidIdentity, new connections can be configured to virtually any application using a bundled GUI toolkit. Even data in legacy systems can quickly be shared to new cloud apps. Plus, the point-and-click interface eliminates the need for developers or outside consultants, saving budget-minded school districts time and money.
With the right solution, district IT departments can provide user data and deliver single sign-on (SSO) to users, regardless of where the application lives or the protocols it uses. Not only does this make it easier for IT to add new applications, but it also makes it easier for students to access needed resources—each student only has to remember a single set of credentials, reducing login issues.
In addition, modern IAM solutions offer the flexibility to expand or add new cloud applications without having to re-orchestrate the cloud environment or re-establish identity and access control settings. This not only saves time and simplifies the process for IT, but it also eliminates the risk of students and teachers losing access to their resources and applications during the process.
Do More with Less Using IAM
Ongoing budget and IT resource constraints are an unavoidable reality in K-12 education. More than half of teachers say this is their biggest roadblock to implementing technology in the classroom.
This isn’t surprising when you look at school funding. Twenty-nine states provided less overall state funding per student in 2015 (the most recent year available) than in 2008, before the recession took hold. Although some states have gradually improved funding since then, at least 12 states have cut general or formula funding—the primary form of state support for elementary and secondary schools—by 7 percent or more per student over the last decade.
How can IAM help? For starters, modern IAM is a productivity multiplier that enables your existing IT staff to do more with fewer resources.
With modern IAM solutions, most identity lifecycle management tasks can be automated, including account creation, password changes, and provisioning and deprovisioning for all users—students, teachers, parents, contractors, and administrators—in the cloud or on premises. Plus, changes are automatically made in Active Directory and all downstream systems, eliminating the need for IT to make the same change in multiple systems.
Modern IAM also makes it possible to automatically provision students with access to the correct resources based on their grade level, teacher, or class using role- and attribute-based access controls. That functionality is especially important at the beginning of the school year, when it could otherwise take IT staff weeks or even months to complete repetitive tasks, such as creating new accounts and assigning privileges for students and new staff.
Self-service and delegation capabilities save further time and expense. Many of today’s IAM solutions offer self-service capabilities that enable students to reset their own passwords. IT can also delegate that responsibility to teachers or other staff to handle on the behalf of students. This is an enormous time and cost savings: Gartner estimates that 20 to 50 percent of all help desk calls are for password resets.
IAM solutions can help control licensing counts, too. With automated lifecycle management, user changes are made in real time, so when a student or faculty member switches classes or leaves a school, their access is automatically adjusted/removed and associated licenses are returned to a pool or canceled. This prevents unnecessary entitlement collections over time and ensures that you are only paying for the licenses you are using. Unnecessary entitlement is not only costly, it also poses a security risk for your organization.
Data rostering is another task that becomes simpler with IAM solutions. Integrating LMS, digital textbooks, and library systems with student information systems and keeping them up to date can be an incredibly time-consuming and error-prone process. IT is left playing catch-up, trying to track who needs digital textbook licenses and for how long. As a result, many school districts end up paying for licenses they don’t really need.
However, some IAM solutions offer data rostering capabilities that automate the process of integrating and synchronizing student roster data with your target applications. Course changes are immediately updated in vendor systems. Accurate license counts ensure school districts don’t overpay for unused licenses.
Make the Most of EdTech with IAM
EdTech has the power to transform how students learn and perform. However, barriers to adoption and budget constraints can hold school districts back in their quest to stay on top of the latest EdTech trends.
Making an initial investment in modern IAM offers ongoing efficiencies and cost savings that overcome many of these hurdles. With the right solution in place, IT staff can quickly add new applications and automate many repetitive identity management tasks. This reduces the burden on IT staff and frees them up to focus on more strategic priorities.
There’s more that IAM can do to accelerate EdTech adoption. In the last part of this series, we’ll discuss benefits that IAM solutions offer to educators and students—stay tuned.