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Professional Opinion

One username, one password

To keep the focus on instruction, IT can automate access to key learning systems
R.J. Gravel (@rjgravel) is the director of instructional technology for Johnsburg School District 12, in Johnsburg, IL.
R.J. Gravel is the director of instructional technology for Johnsburg School District 12, in Johnsburg, IL.

As more school leaders adopt cloud-based technology to support educator and student achievement, the need for efficient processes to run student and teacher accounts increases.

In the past, printed instructional materials would be received, sorted, labeled and distributed to classrooms. Materials traveled from the office to the teacher, then from the educator to the student. But for cloud-based materials, the distribution process looks quite different.

To make sure teachers keep their focus on learning and teaching—and not on logistics and subscriptions—curriculum and technology specialists must work together to see that information systems make materials accessible from the moment students and educators walk into the classroom.

Employee and student population changes

Schools have two primary populations that change throughout the school year: employees and students. Most school districts enroll and withdraw students throughout the year.

Regardless of when an employee is hired, or a student is enrolled, it’s important that these users gain access to all necessary resources in order to be successful from the first day they join their new school. Some of these resources include:

  • Curriculum supplies such as print and electronic textbooks
  • Electronic resources that are used by students for communication and productivity purposes, like Google Apps for Education
  • Electronic portals to view grades, lunch account information, online assignments and teacher contact information.

Leveraging automation for access

At Johnsburg School District 12, we use a variety of electronic resources. In an effort to streamline the end-user experience, we have worked to create a unique login for each user that is consistent across all systems.

This “One Username, One Password” initiative lets our students and teachers use a single username and password across the majority of our electronic resource systems.

For our students, their login is the letter “J” followed by their student ID, such as J140032. Creating unique logins, paired with authentic integrated services within our internal network, allows us to automatically facilitate user accounts in a host of external systems as quickly as our systems can run a query. Here’s how:

  1. A new employee or student is added to the appropriate enterprise system.
  2. Once per hour or day, depending on the service, our automation scripts search our enterprise systems to identify any new users, as well as any changes to existing users.
  3. A list of changes is compiled and distributed to each of our providers. Providers then create user accounts using the supplied login ID. For example, if a new student is identified, an electronic textbook account is created. If that student is enrolled in Biology 1, they are given access to the electronic textbook that has been adopted for the class.
  4. The process cycles automatically: Employees and students have access to all resources in as little as one hour and no more than a day.

Benefits abound

The benefits of automation are simple: end-users are given timely access to the resources they need without having to submit a technology support ticket, track down a curriculum specialist or find a building secretary.

Through building processes driven by our school’s student and business information system, we are able to easily detect new and modified users, and provide the appropriate access.

To begin automating user accounts in your district, tell your student and business information system providers that you want to automatically create and deliver user accounts based on

information from your databases.

Want to learn more about the tools we used and processes we implemented? Visit my blog post.

R.J. Gravel (@rjgravel) is the director of instructional technology for Johnsburg School District 12, in Johnsburg, IL.