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.

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

  • - kevinashfordrowe kevinashfordrowe Feb 8, 2014I think its well past the time when IT departments need to have overcome the issues around 'single sign-on'. It is a necessary component to enhancing the affordability of educational technology in terms of enhancing ease of access. - jwilliams jwilliams Feb 24, 2014
  • While website/system authentication is handy (and definitely enhances the pleasure for the user), this needs to be a globally centralised Auth system to be truly SSO - not Facebook/Google fighting over the auth service. I feel, if achieved, the real application to the higher education environment is SSO to all research databases, and the increased ability for institutions to share/integrate resources in a collaborative approach. - jason.maddern jason.maddern
  • - daniel.ingvarson daniel.ingvarson Feb 20, 2014 SSO is a bedrock item to increase use of digital tools. It is the way to make it simpler and to start to see things as a digital ecosystem. - jwilliams jwilliams Feb 24, 2014

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

  • - kevinashfordrowe kevinashfordroweI think that more discussion needs to occur in terms of the comparative 'lack of responsiveness' of Higher Education to be able to respond to this core requirement to support the student experience. It is certainly a difficult challenge but one that is increasingly being overcome in the commercial sector. - jwilliams jwilliams Feb 24, 2014
  • As noted above - central Auth service (rather than Facebook/Google fighting for control) is critical for true SSO to be implemented globally. Also, the security risks have not been discussed - with one username/password, it means that if your credentials become compromised then all systems can be access - making SSO a prime target for digital crime (ie. identity theft, fraud, etc.). Even if these SSO services (such as Google/Facebook) utilise SSL encryption that is not a guarantee - jason.maddern jason.maddern Feb 17, 2014
  • - daniel.ingvarson daniel.ingvarson Feb 20, 2014 SSO on its own is only one important part of the picture - for SSO to be relevant to education it needs to be linked to other data to simplify the use. For example we have had SSO to a tool, where teachers then needed to create their classes and accounts for their students, when we enabled the linking of the Data from central systems into the service usage went up 700%. However with the linking of data - Data use guildlines (what can the app/vendor do with my data) becomes more important. So it is Digtial Identity and Access management.

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

  • Happy users…. until their credentials are stolen :(. The navigation to multiple systems without requiring re-auth is fantastic, and coupled to educational items such as access to different library databases, and increased ability to share auth/resources accross institutions is appealing - jason.maddern jason.maddern Feb 17, 2014

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

  • Our head office is currently rolling out a system that uses SAML Auth (through Google) so that all our systems can be navigated to/from seamlessly. This is still a closed auth system to only our owned various systems (of which there are many), not to external organisations systems. - jason.maddern jason.maddern Feb 17, 2014
  • - daniel.ingvarson daniel.ingvarson Feb 20, 2014 In K-12 SSO and Data have to be linked - Look at inbloom (https://www.inbloom.org/) and Clever (https://clever.com/). In Unis in Au there is Australian Access Federation http://aaf.edu.au/. It provides SSO to university systems.
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