Remember the three Rs (reading, writing, and arithmetic)? They’ve been joined by the four Cs: collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and communication, thanks to growing usage of technology in the classroom.
Technology has turned the classroom into a place not just for lectures, but also for practice, individualized instruction, and group problem-solving. Specifically, the development and evolution of EdTech has transformed (and will continue to transform) how educators teach and how students learn.
In part one of this series, we looked at three of 2018's top EdTech trends and how they are doing just that. However, though EdTech holds the promise of transforming how students learn, there are still obstacles that must be overcome in order to deliver a truly personalized, collaborative, and efficient learning experience.
Part two of our series discussed how identity access management (IAM) makes it easier and more cost-effective to add and manage new applications; and now, this third and final part takes a closer look at how modern IAM solutions enable a better EdTech user experience for both students and teachers.
A More Personalized, User-Friendly Learning Experience
The first step in creating a more personalized learning experience is moving away from generic and shared logins and towards individual user accounts for every student.
Generic logins allow students to work on their school computer; however, at the end of class, they can’t save their work. Moreover, shared logins create an accountability nightmare because teachers can’t track which student accessed which resources. So, if a student does something inappropriate (such as accessing an explicit website), the teacher lacks the ability to determine which student it was.
That’s where IAM comes in. Modern IAM solutions automate account creation and management at scale in Active Directory and downstream systems, making it possible to give each student his or her own email account and login. Individual accounts make it possible for students to continue working on projects, store documents, ask teachers questions about assignments, and request additional resources outside of class. In addition, teachers can distribute assignments and provide real-time feedback to students.
IAM solutions also make it possible to provide users with single sign-on (SSO) access to all their resources and applications.
What does the classroom experience look like with an SSO portal? Students and teachers get one-click access to resources using a personalized portal that houses all of a user’s individual apps in one place. Instead of having to locate applications and then individually log in using each app’s different credentials, users log in to their SSO portal with a single set of credentials and then directly access their applications with a simple click, saving time and effort.
Furthermore, because users only have to remember a single set of login credentials, SSO dramatically cuts down on login- and password-related issues. Instead of having to remember usernames and passwords for a growing number of applications—each with its own password rules and requirements—users just need to remember their SSO portal login credentials to access all of their resources.
However, for young students in pre-K through first grade and students with special needs, remembering and typing even one set of login credentials can be a struggle. While EdTech continues to be implemented more and more at all grade levels, usability—or lack thereof—continues to be a barrier to true utilization for these students. One study of early-childhood educators found that 30 percent of respondents felt classroom technology could be improved by making it easier to use, 44 percent commented that it should be more age-appropriate, and close to 30 percent wanted increased ability to make accommodations to include all students, such as those with disabilities.
More complete IAM solutions offer options for age-appropriate authentication, such as QR code badges combined with pictograph authentication, that help make EdTech more user-friendly for students who are very young or have special needs. To authenticate, a user simply holds his or her QR code badge up to the computer’s camera and then, once it’s read, the student is prompted to enter his or her pictograph password by selecting the images that comprise the password from several sets of randomized images.
These kid-friendly authentication methods overcome many of the usability issues associated with traditional passwords. For starters, students don’t have to remember or type any text. Additionally, images are far easier to remember than words and offer far less complexity. All of this means students can quickly log in and get to work without the need for teacher assistance or creative workarounds.
Minimizing Teacher Frustration and Classroom Disruption
Another way in which IAM solutions help educators make the most of EdTech is by minimizing frustration and disruption. The Kahoot! report naming 2018’s top EdTech trends that we discussed in part one of our series identified a number of factors that prevent educators from integrating EdTech into the classroom, including insufficient funds, connectivity issues, and lack of training.
While insufficient funding and connectivity issues point toward larger budget and resource issues, there’s still hesitation and resistance on the part of many teachers; this often stems from insufficient preparation and educator skepticism (perhaps from negative past experiences) about whether the benefits of EdTech outweigh the hassle.
Teachers worry that valuable classroom time will be wasted helping students locate resources, resolving login and password issues, and ensuring students don’t misbehave while using technology.
Here again, modern IAM solutions can help. IAM solutions offer self-service capabilities that enable students to reset and manage their own passwords. IT staff can also delegate that authority to teachers using delegated administration, saving both IT resources and classroom time, while putting teachers firmly in control.
Teachers no longer have to stop instruction to call the help desk every time a password needs to be reset, and students can no longer use a forgotten password as an excuse not to do their work. SSO and age-appropriate authentication (discussed above) further minimize classroom disruption and teacher frustration by overcoming login issues and usability hurdles.
IAM solutions also facilitate data-driven instruction, in which data is used to track student progress and form more effective teaching strategies, by giving educators greater visibility into students’ actions. Individual logins, combined with an IAM solution’s reporting and audit capabilities, provide complete insight into end-user activities. Not only is data-driven instruction one of the top EdTech trends we discussed in part one of our series, but it’s also a valuable tool for helping students develop 21st-century skills necessary for future careers.
IAM: Ensuring Successful EdTech Implementation
EdTech trends will continue to change, but one thing is certain—EdTech is here to stay in the classroom, and school districts need solutions that will help them grow and evolve as their needs change over time.
When done right, IAM is the foundation of district technology initiatives that drive EdTech adoption and and allow schools to do more with fewer resources (and, in turn, get a higher return on their investment). IAM reduces frustration and disruption in the classroom, while providing students with a more user-friendly, personalized learning experience that makes it easier for them to develop critical 21st-century learning skills.