IT security departments in schools and colleges don’t always have the best reputations. They are known for forbidding specific software. They apply controls to the network and sometimes do not explain why. Before you implement (or improve) single sign-on technology at your school, resolve to do better. Single sign-on technology can make daily life better for students and teachers. To realize those benefits, you need to communicate an easy-to-understand single sign-on definition.
Single Sign-On Definition — A Key IT Security Innovation
As an IT security professional, you are probably familiar with the single sign-on software solutions already. However, understanding this technology is not enough if you need support from administrators and other stakeholders. That’s why we propose making a simple promise about single sign-on (SSO) software like the following:
“Do you like memorizing multiple passwords to get through the day? I don’t! That’s why we’re about to eliminate almost all passwords. You’ll only need to keep track of one password. To make this change happen, we will implement a single sign-on software solution.”
The single sign-on definition above emphasizes the productivity benefits of the technology. That’s what most people care about. If you’re looking for a technical overview of single sign-on software, check out our article: Multiple Types of Single Sign-On Software Explained.
Three Reasons Why Single Sign-On Matters For Remote Education
Promoting a productivity-focused single sign-on definition is an excellent way to start the conversion. If you’re struggling to decide whether or not to focus your resources on single sign-on software or another IT project, consider these benefits first.
1. Enforcing Strong Passwords
Put yourself in the shoes of your users. They probably hate having to memorize multiple passwords and usernames. Worse, your students and teachers might be using similar passwords over and over again (i.e., password reuse disease). As an IT security professional, the need for creating unique, complex passwords is evident to you. For other people, password strength is not a topic they spend much time contemplating.
By installing a single sign-on platform, you can reduce the number of passwords people have to memorize for remote education. As a result, you can update your password policy to require much more complex passwords.
2. Reduce IT Distractions To Remote Learning
Successfully running a remote learning class is difficult! For instance, a teacher will find it much more challenging to remove distractions from the learning environment. Further, it is more challenging to maintain eye contact. Some students may be tempted to play games or use social media during remote learning sessions.
Given all of these remote learning challenges, you must remove IT barriers. If students have to jump through multiple login windows, they may get frustrated. Thankfully, single sign-on software makes it much easier and faster for students and teachers to get logged in.
3. Enhance IT’s Reputation In Your School
Admittedly, this is a bit of a selfish reason, but it still matters! As an IT department that applies security controls, you may not always be very popular. Fortunately, you earn more support and credibility by implementing projects that directly increase productivity. You might not have the expertise to create a new or improved learning platform. Instead, you can contribute by making everyday IT activities easier.
Developing A Great Remote Education Experience For Students: Key Best Practices
These single sign-on best practices will help your students, staff and administrators make the most of single sign-on technology. They are designed on the assumption that your organization has recently implemented a single sign-on platform. That said, you can adapt these tips for use in other ways (e.g., your school’s IT newsletter).
1. Define single sign-on technology in user-friendly terms.
Starting with a simple sign-on definition is an excellent way to start your best practices discussion. In your definition, emphasize the time-saving aspect. If you cannot make presentations, consider recording a screen capture video showing how somebody can use single sign-on. A sixty-second video demonstrating single sign-on at your organization is an excellent way to bring the technology to life.
2. Reinforce the importance of password quality.
There’s no doubt that single sign-on software plays an essential role in improving convenience. There is a trade-off to that improvement — user passwords become much more critical. If one password grants access to 10 systems instead of one, it is reasonable to expect more robust passwords. If you have updated your password expectations, provide training and guidance to your users to meet this requirement.
3. Describe any limitations on your single sign-on implementation.
The dream for single sign-on software is simple: one password to rule them all! The reality sometimes falls short of that dream. Depending on your single sign-on implementation, some systems and applications may not connect reliability to your single sign-on software solution. When these limitations apply, communicate these limitations to your users.
4. Clarify where users can request login help.
By implementing a single sign-on software solution, the login windows and steps may look different. This kind of change may confuse your users. Communicate where and how your users can get help with passwords (e.g., here is the phone number for the IT help desk).
5. Explain to users how to complete access reviews.
For a single sign-on platform to work effectively, you need to have ongoing monitoring in place. As mentioned above, one password and username can give someone access to several systems. As a best practice, advise your administrative users to review all of the active user accounts in their department or class every month.
Need Help Getting Approval For Single Sign-On Software?
Outside of the IT security field, few people are aware of the benefits of single sign-on software. Consequently, you will need to present a business case to get budget approval. To get started, use our guide: Get Your SSO Software Project Funded With a Business Case.