Over the past several years there has been a mass migration of IT services, the majority of which have moved from on premise to cloud environments; a fact that anyone who has worked in the industry over the past decade is well aware of. As these back end transitions occurred the client (user) side of the equation has evolved with them, especially from a mobility perspective. Historically, mobile computing translated to a laptop, often high powered to accommodate a variety of user demands. However, cloud based applications place a relatively small load on local the CPU, mitigating the need for massive amounts of processing power in a laptop.
The market first reacted to this trend via Netbooks; smaller form factor laptops, which used low power CPU’s, but still had a desktop oriented operating system like Windows 7. These devices were centered around using internet based services like email and web browsing. Shortly after the proliferation of Netbooks Google entered the space with their own offering, ChromeBooks. The use case was largely the same but the hardware footprint was much smaller due to a lightweight operating system, ChromeOS, designed to hook into Google’s cloud ecosystem.
What we at Tools4ever have seen in the education industry, over the past eighteen months especially, is a push towards one device per child initiatives; with ChromeBooks often being the choice. The benefits are obvious. Most schools currently use Google hosted email (since it’s free) and as such students already have familiarity with it, they’re low cost, and the majority of applications students use today are web based; Chrome browser is arguably the best client for interacting with them.
Once deployed students have a lightweight device that they can easily transport between school and home to facilitate, and augment, their learning experience. While this is all very well and good it also creates a new set of challenges. Many schools use a dozen or more cloud based services, each with its own username, password, and complexity requirements. Remembering all of these unique combinations, while also keeping current with password change requirements, is a daunting task and inevitably leads to an increase in helpdesk tickets while negatively impacting the learning experience.
Tools4ever has responded to these market needs through the creation of a product name HelloID, a cloud based Single Sign On (SSO) solution that integrates natively with the Google platform. Students are provided with a unified dashboard which allows quick and easy access to any web based learning application via a single mouse click; remembering and/or writing down username/password combinations is no longer a daily activity.
The latest release of the solution (18.104.22.168 as of the time of writing) features “access rules” which provide administrators with additional options for controlling and securing the end user experience. In what follows we discuss three unique situations and how “access rules” can be utilized to alleviate them.
Students with poor time management skills may routinely be using their ChomeBooks at “all hours” to cram assignments shortly before they’re due. If up until the wee hours of the morning their ability to pay attention in class, the next day, is invariably affected.
Configure an access rule which only allows students to utilize applications within a defined time period, e.g. 9am – 9pm.
Certain applications are designed to be utilized with an instructor lead counterpart, or require supervision, and students shouldn’t be allowed to use them outside of the school building itself.
Configure an access rule which only allows student to launch the application if they’re connected to a specific network, i.e. IP range of the building(s) in question.
Some applications are specifically designed for a particular browser; others might work but the user experience is diminished in some way, i.e. the application works best in Chrome but many users routinely attempt to access it using Internet Explorer from their home computer.
Configure an access rule which only allows the application to be launched if Chrome browser is utilized.
What’s referenced in this article is but a fraction of the myriad features and capabilities offered by the HelloID platform. We’d love to learn more about your particular single sign on challenges and illustrate exactly how they can be eliminated through deploying our solutions.