An Ideas2Executables customer with an existing educational friendly web application found himself with a significant uptick in demand during the Covid-19 pandemic. Teachers were eager to provide their students with novel learning tools, and our client had a unique educational online offering. The challenge arose at the administrative level, as there were concerns about how the integration with a new platform would scale among schools. Would students have to manually create and track new accounts? Would teachers have to manually set up classes on the new platform? Would IT administrators be confident that the new platform was safe and secure for the school to use? Our client was looking for a cost effective solution that would quickly address these concerns.
While these are challenging issues, our client was fortunate that vendors exist to meet many of these concerns. The core solution was to integrate the customer’s custom platform with two well known education platforms that many school districts already leverage: ClassLink and Clever. These platforms provide a secure and convenient interface to teachers, students and administrators, while behind the scenes integrating with third parties like our customer.
Two common services schools rely on are Single Sign On (SSO) and Rostering. SSO allows students to seamlessly access our client’s platform without creating yet another account. Rostering allows for the organization of students and teachers into their appropriate classes without manual intervention. ClassLink and Clever both offer these services.
For our customer’s app to leverage these services, we needed to write custom code to respond to SSO and Rostering requests. We developed this custom code in such a way that not only were Clever and ClassLink accommodated, but so that future vendor implementation can benefit from this development as well. This was accomplished by building out a common framework for handling SSO and Rostering that ClassLink and Clever both share. Then vendor specific code was plugged in, allowing nuances of Clever and ClassLink to be accommodated. Should a future vendor be identified, the common framework can be re-used and only the vendor specific code needs to be implemented.
On the surface, it seems possible to add Clever and ClassLink support without making changes to the core of our customer’s application. However, some minor changes were made to the authentication aspect of the system. Whenever significant features are added to the system, we believe it’s important to integrate them into the system so the result is a healthy, streamlined system. Simply bolting on feature after feature can result in a Frankenstein-like system which over time becomes inefficient for both end users and those working to make changes to the system itself.
Integrating with well known educational service providers successfully addressed the teacher and administrator’s concerns. Teachers didn’t have to worry about sign-on issues they and their students may have, nor did they have to concern themselves with data entry relating to managing classes. Instead, teachers could focus on providing fun and inspiring content to their students. Administrator’s concerns about security and privacy were alleviated because they continued to work with a trusted partner, ClassLink or Clever. Our client was excited to be able to offer their educational toolset to a wider audience in a truly scalable manner.
If you find yourself in a situation similar to our customer, consider the following:
If you have questions about this Case Study, or how Ideas2Executables can you help you address a challenge in your own application, Contact Us. Or give us a call at (703) 688-3084.
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