It’s a problem that vexes most CTOs and K-12 technology directors: When students and teachers log-in to different apps, remembering varying usernames and passwords can be downright daunting.
Here's a possible fix. Today, San Francisco-based Clever publicly released its “Instant Login,” a free single sign-on platform that unites a school or district’s applications under one username and password per student or teacher.
“With Instant Login, students login once to access all of their apps in one easy-to-find place and navigate seamlessly between them as needed. Teachers can focus classroom time on instruction and learning with more software choices, flexibility and less administrative headaches,” explains Tyler Bosmeny, CEO of Clever.
Clever's flagship product connects independent applications with schools' and districts' Student Information Systems (SIS). Clever has been rapidly growing its user base over the past few years. Since graduating from Y Combinator in June 2012, use of Clever’s first product has grown to 25,000 schools in the United States, approximately 1 in 6 schools. And following the announcement of its closed Instant Login pilot back in spring of 2014, the platform has been enabled at 3,500 schools and reached 2 million registered students.
The pilot ended earlier this August. Clever made some fixes, incorporating feedback it received, and now Clever’s Instant Login is available for free for all US school districts. Improvements include an auto-signup process for schools, rather than Clever’s old model, in which educators filled out a survey and were later contacted by a Clever rep.
“Now, we can get most districts set up within the same day,” Bosmeny tells EdSurge. “They register through an auto sign-up, and we'll walk them through the process of connecting their SIS and their district identification system that day. Once they're ready, they can deploy log-ins really quickly.”
“Clever's Instant Login now plays a very important role in our technology integration strategy,” says Beatriz Arnillas of the Houston Independent School District, one of Clever’s pilot districts. “Instant Login lets us easily link learning applications to a single student and teacher portal--providing a very secure login while saving thousands of instructional minutes over the course of the 2014-15 school year.”
Additionally, Clever used the past summer to increase the number of “Cleverized” apps (companies whose software integrates with Clever) from three back in June to more than 25 as of late August. Developer partners include larger players like Scholastic and Discovery Education, subject-specific content providers like CodeHS and DreamBox Learning, and yes, EdSurge. Clever also invites other edtech developers interested in having their software support Instant Login to contact Clever for further discussions--a hope that Clever’s big district users share, as well.
“We encourage the apps to ‘Cleverize,’” says John Krull, Information Technology Officer at Oakland Unified School District in California. “Back in 2013, we were pushing companies-- Achieve3000, Mastery Connect, PowerMyLearning--to sign up. And we would love more now.”
Bosmeny says there's still plenty of room for improvement and expansion. For example, Clever will now focus on making Instant Login available to schools everywhere. “I probably get 1 to 2 requests a day from school districts outside the US,” he says.
Additionally, certain districts want capabilities beyond what the Instant Login platform provides--and may go to other products to get it. Oakland Unified, for example, has begun beta-testing with Engrade, whose pilot LMS platform has single sign-on features, and pulls data from each of the integrated apps and places it into the teacher gradebook.
“On Clever, when you have students working on half a dozen apps on engagement and performance, the teacher has to login to each to see how the students are doing on each individual app,” Krull notes. “At this point, the next step after customizing the platform for teachers and students is, how can the data from each app come back to a reporting panel?”
Bet that's something we'll see more clever solutions for soon.