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How to Solve School Data Privacy and App Control Issues

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Posted by Eric Fulkert
Sep 16, 2015 2:06:16 PM

As school districts weigh and sometimes wrestle with digitization, riding herd on this transformation is no easy task for school IT administrators. How do you at once manage schools, run classrooms, engage communities and insure school data privacy in the process?

When you’re trying to accommodate the software needs of everyone from teachers to the school communications director, you likely have dozens of applications being used at any given time. Your student information system (SIS) – the data nerve center of any school district – needs to integrate with all your other apps. The content management system (CMS or website and website hosting), learning management system (LMS) and countless software apps teachers may be using (with or without your knowledge) – the list goes on. And the headaches for managing those go on as well.

There’s a clever service available that helps districts manage and secure all their applications with a single sign-on. It’s appropriately called Clever, and their tagline says it all: simplifying education technology. Clever is currently in place in over one third of all the U.S. school districts, and there are some good reasons why it's so popular.

Offering school data privacy and user convenience


Clever’s single sign-on shouts convenience and security. The benefits are great for not only the IT manager, but other administrators, teachers, students and parents. It helps apps integrate with your SIS and gives anyone properly credentialed a single sign-on for all of those applications. Clever can be an important piece of establishing a secure school password policy.

There's also tremendous upside to data security and privacy. Clever provides an enhanced level of security, for IT managers don’t necessarily always know what apps are being used in classrooms. It sets up an easy process for approving applications teachers or other staff may want to use, eliminating those rogue or unapproved software applications that otherwise could find their way into your district system.

Clever solves the problem of connecting applications to your SIS data. It brings a simple, pre-built connection for many SIS platforms on the market. Once connected, you can share specific data with any of the 200+ applications that support Clever. It also solves the problem of keeping all of your applications’ data up to date. Clever makes the data you share available to companies like Campus Suite. Campus Suite and other software firms can import roster data from your school. For a school, setting up this connection is as simple as clicking a few buttons in the admin console. School districts keep total ownership and control over the student data, controlling which vendors can sync with what data.

There’s good reason why so many schools are getting Clever. It saves time in the educational process. Using a single sign on saves time for faculty, staff, students and parents... It also helps simplify your data privacy, an issue that’s increasingly important for districts committed to protecting their students and themselves.

Clever also features instant login, which connects your Active Directory, Google Apps, Office365, and Canvas logins for use across any app that supports Clever. The hassle of maintaining different accounts across different systems is eliminated by Clever. A school can connect their main authentication system to other applications seamlessly. Clever allows for Single Sign On (SSO) across 200+ applications. Removing the burden of defining and maintaining connections for LDAP or other security systems is a major timesaver.

Some questions and answers about Clever

Clever’s got a great website complete with some FAQs about set up, available apps, security and more, but I have a few questions and answers of my own I’d like to share:

Q: Who controls the data?

A: Clever gives your school control over who sees what data at any time. You can share only relevant data with a third party. You can revoke access to an application at any time. The power is seeing everyone who has access to your data in one dashboard. If you have connectors installed for many apps, revoking access might be difficult. You have 100% control over your data at all times.

Q: What about privacy?

A: Clever is completely FERPA compliant under the Education Services Exemption, and is also completely SOPIPA compliant. Clever provides a secure controlled exchange between your school and vendors. Using a common standard keeps your data safe. Many other solutions need a unique connector to your SIS, and may have different standards on security, or what data they have the right to access.

Q: How hard is Clever to install?

A: Clever auto-integrates with almost all SIS systems. The installation is simple, and Clever offers your team support for 100% of the process. They claim the average setup time is 15 minutes. Once the main connection is installed, adding new applications takes minutes. You don’t need to install a new connector for each application.

Q: What’s in it for Clever?

A: Clever makes this tool available for any application free of charge to school. It gives a simple API for applications to access your applicable school data. And if you have an application that doesn't support instant login, the folks at Clever say they can make it happen. Clever charges applications for providing a single point of integration to any student information system. The value to a company is clear, stable access to your data; otherwise getting your school's SIS data shared in a secure format is a challenge. Check out which providers are currently included, and review the list of applications that support Clever.

Single sign-on and security that’s sweeping the nation

There’s a big demand for what Clever offers, and it’s no surprise it’s spreading like wildfire. Look at the school to the left of you, and the school on your right. At least one of the three of you is using Clever right now. According to their website, in two years, Clever has been installed in over 44,000 schools. It’s been featured in this New York Times article, on NPR News and numerous trade journals. This Buzzfeed article by Molly Hensley-Clancy illustrates how Clever is in the right place at the right time to help districts cope with data privacy issues and cumbersome login procedures.

There’s good reason why so many schools are getting Clever. It saves time in the educational process. Using a single sign on saves time for faculty, staff, students and parents. It keeps critical IT resources from investing time into setting up redundant accounts. Everyone saves time when data doesn't need to be updated to stay current. Clever also helps simplify your data privacy, an issue that’s increasingly important for districts committed to protecting their students and themselves.

For the IT administrators, who have the responsibility for corralling the growing number of tech issues; and for all your users (we all want things simplified, don’t we?), Clever could be a tool worth looking into for your school.

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Posted by Eric Fulkert

Eric's background as a technical CEO with a big-picture focus brings the experience and vision that both gains the respect of technical audiences, and gets the attention of the progressive school leaders and administrators.

Topics: School Districts Private schools Security

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This blog and other Campus Suite Academy resources are part of our commitment to professional development for school communicators. Please join our forum for sharing the latest technology and communication trends to help schools better engage and improve education outcomes.


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