Are Students Struggling With Too Many Digital Logins?

This was a tweet I wrote back in early August. Every year, I spend a considerable amount of time creating user accounts for students across various systems. It involves creating a CSV file from our Student Information System, tinkering with the data, and uploading it back to another system. I have to do this for at least ten different systems every year. These systems all have unique requirements on usernames and passwords.

The students also suffer under this current system. They have to manage a host of usernames and passwords. In fact, I should probably include 1Password in our list of apps we deploy to help them manage it. We try to balance security and ease of use when it comes to using unique passwords across systems, but we are also dealing with kids under the age of thirteen.

What we need is a universal login solution for education.




As you can see in the comic, the problem with standards is that they simply create another one. Renweb has a read-only API that could be used, but nothing we deploy integrates with it. Google Apps supports single sign-on (SSO) that is fairly easy for app developers to deploy, but like Renweb, a lot of the tools we use don’t use it. The situation is that everyone wants their system to be the hub of student data. That leads us into a situation where every system supports a login API, but only for itself.

I personally would like to see Google Apps be the system that becomes the standard for schools. It already manages a lot of data (email, calendar, documents, etc.) for schools, and it’s probably the most widely deployed among schools. Until someone takes charge, I’ll spend every August downloading and uploading CSV files while listening to Beats1 Radio. Our students and teachers will still have to remember countless logins for various apps and systems. I guess I should look at the bright side — it’s amazing how many various services and apps we can use to help engage students in the classroom.

Louis CK probably said it best on an episode of Conan O’Brien a few years ago:

Yea, because everything is amazing right now and nobody’s happy. Like, in my lifetime the changes in the world have been incredible. When I was a kid we had a rotary phone. We had a phone that you had to stand next to, and you had to dial it. Do you know how primitive – you’re making sparks – in a phone. And you actually would hate people with zeros in their numbers because it was more – you’d be like “uh this guy has two zeros in his number, screw that guy, why would I want to-uh!” And then if they called and you weren’t home, the phone would just ring lonely by itself. And then if you wanted money you had to go in the bank when it was open for like three hours. You had to stand in line and write yourself a check like an idiot. And then when you ran out of money you’d just go ‘well, I can’t do any more things now. I can’t do any more things.’ And even if you had a credit card, the guy would go “uh” and he’d bring out this whole “shunk-shunk,” and he’d write, and he’d have to call the President to see if you had any money…

Although it’s frustrating, it’s a great problem to have.

Bradley Chambers has been the Director of Information Technology at Brainerd Baptist School since 2009. At BBS, he manages a network of Apple and Chrome OS devices. He also writes at Tools & Toys. The Sweet Setup, and 9to5Mac.

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