What is Single Sign-On?

With cellular networks covering a larger area of the globe, and wi-fi freely available in more restaurants, stores, and even public transit, people have grown accustomed to surfing the web anywhere at anytime. A thriving tablet and smartphone market means that people are accessing the Internet from a number of devices and are constantly changing between them throughout their daily lives. To address the user experience of switching between mobile devices, companies are implementing single sign-on, or the use of one authentication process to access multiple websites, in order to make the user experience seamless. It's now possible, for instance, to register with website that has never been visited before simply by signing-in with one's Facebook or Google credentials. With less effort put toward recalling and re-entering passwords for multiple websites, users can navigate the web with greater ease and accessibility.

INSTRUCTIONS: Enter your responses to the questions below. This is most easily done by moving your cursor to the end of the last item and pressing RETURN to create a new bullet point. Please include URLs whenever you can (full URLs will automatically be turned into hyperlinks; please type them out rather than using the linking tools in the toolbar).

Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - Larry Larry Feb 8, 2012

(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • This seems to be an after thought but as I speak to students and teachers that are implementing BYOD, 1:1, ebooks, and other digital content the number of log ons and passwords are becoming a nightmare. This topic also relates to the interrelatedness of systems and information. When systems and information are easy to access students and teachers benefit - when difficult those systems are not used. As more systems rely on digital tools from back-office systems to digital content, IT professionals and educators will need to work hard to enable these systems with single sign-on - ryan.tomaps ryan.tomaps Jan 30, 2014
  • I love all websites that let me sign in with either Google or Facebook, the number of logins and passwords we need students to remember can be ridiculous. Creating accounts and remembering how to sign in is a giant suck of classroom time. There should be a focus on making this happen, and I think it is happening. Students can focus on doing their work, teachers have less hassle with using new tools. - mrskeeler mrskeeler Feb 1, 2014
  • Agree with mrskeeler's comment of "a giant suck of classroom time." Login/sign-in/create new account take an enormous about of classroom time, coupled with days of slow bandwidth. We live in an accelerated learning environment; students lose interest if there are too many clicks…just ask advertisement companies. - michael.lambert michael.lambert Feb 2, 2014
  • - bobmoore bobmoore Feb 4, 2014This is a topic that gets this former CIO excited! I just can't imagine something more important to an efficient online experience. I personally have at least 66 usernames and passwords for my various online accounts. It makes the online experience highly inefficient. I have been involved with a large number of education/learning "platform" initiatives over the years and teachers always beg for single-sign on.
  • Single sign-on is key to a good user experience...and, K-12 is far behind higher ed in this. Having a unique user ID is essential, and many systems don't do that! That said, this is the plumbing and electricity of construction...it is not exciting, but it is fundamental. Hopefully, we can get to the point where this is just an expectation...but we are not there today (YET). And, important that this get raised. - keith.krueger keith.krueger Feb 9, 2014kkrueger 2028612676
  • This is a great issue from the technical side, as many people have raised previously. It is a hard goal to accomplish, and vendors need to remember that this is an actual goal to reduce the amount of effort it takes students to use their systems- alex.podchaski alex.podchaski Feb 9, 2014
  • Single Sign On is incredible! Having worked to implement it previously in a district I found the benefits were incredible for all district user groups. Going to a district with only a limited SSO through Google is a hinderance to my daily work flow. In the class the Google SSO integration works, but without a single site to sign in through users overlook services we offer that a teacher might not promote to students. The SSO saves so much time in a BYOD/1:1 environment. The big disadvantage is the intial cost to implement is high and often overlooked by IT staffs, or difficult to convince Cabinet as to the benefit. - digitalroberto digitalroberto Feb 9, 2014
  • - troybagwell1 troybagwell1 Feb 10, 2014 SSO is probably one of the most appealing features of the Google experience from the backend side. Once signed on there is a wide variety of powerful tools for the user. This reduces confusion and management issues which is very desirable for a teacher as they become more and more dependent on these tools for learning.

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Not sure if the description should start off with cellular networks. In terms of the impact on K12, it is the number of available tools that teachers are using with their students, be it mobile or web. Especially when considering apps might have a very specific and limited purpose. The teacher may only use it for a few minutes or a day, single sign in makes that possible. - mrskeeler mrskeeler Feb 1, 2014
  • - bobmoore bobmoore Feb 4, 2014The challenge is that when you have single sign-on, you also have a potential serious security challenge. One username and password can get you into many different accounts and systems. Schools (and other organizations) have to get more serious about password complexity, changes and multi-part authentication. Or, other forms of authentication that could be more convenient and secure.
  • In addition to the security issues, there is a curricular and coordination issue as well. Without coordination between the classroom and technology staff, the number of applications used multiplies, and becomes unmanageable for students. A school or a district needs to coordinate the tools in use in an effort to reduce the stress on students, teachers, and staff. A set of guidelines encouraging tools that integrate OAuth or OpenID would be a great start.- alex.podchaski alex.podchaski Feb 9, 2014
  • - troybagwell1 troybagwell1 Feb 10, 2014 One of the challenges that I see in SSO at the K12 level using high profile services such as Facebook or Google is the student's ability to maintain they identity created while in school past graduation. There is "life" while going to school then "life" after school. Where and how that mixing of identities play out should be a consideration. Maybe some of what is happening with SSO has to do with identity management. A savvy 13 year old user that has multiple accounts across services and devices may find the school's SSO service and inhibiting and may seek ways to circumvent or get past.

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

  • Classroom management. - mrskeeler mrskeeler Feb 1, 2014
  • Reduction of wasted class-time. - michael.lambert michael.lambert Feb 2, 2014
  • - bobmoore bobmoore Feb 4, 2014Anything we can do to make the online experience more efficient, it has to be better for teaching and learning.
  • Cooporation between technology staff and teachers would be a tremendous benefit!- alex.podchaski alex.podchaski Feb 9, 2014
  • - troybagwell1 troybagwell1 Feb 10, 2014 Transition to an SSO environment may be bumpy or confusing until it clicks.

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • I know many IT departments try to make single sign on for as many accounts as possible. For example I can log into my GAFE, school email, blackboard, etc... all with the same username and password. Many places I go this is a topic of discussion, any district of any size is probably working on this the best they can with applications that permit that. Looking at all of the sites, such as easybib.com, that allow you to sign in with your Google account lends to the popularity of single sign in. - mrskeeler mrskeeler Feb 1, 2014
  • Oauth and OpenID are the standards. http://oath.net and http://openid.net - alex.podchaski alex.podchaski Feb 9, 2014
  • Saddleback Valley Unified School District put a Single Sign On system in place about 6 years ago. It's excellent and provides a number of services for all user groups. - digitalroberto digitalroberto Feb 9, 2014

Please share information about related projects in our Horizon Project Sharing Form.