Easing schools’ student login headaches with Cybera’s Pika service

Student login management is one of those little-talked-about but painfully frustrating tasks for school administrators. Each year, across Alberta, thousands of student accounts are created or updated to allow them to login to their Adobe or Google (or dozens of other) online tools, which have become foundational for modern education.

But as well as creating these accounts, administrators are responsible for ensuring the security and privacy of their students’ data. This requires creating agreements with the tool providers — or third-party login administrators — about what data can be shared, and where it can be saved. These negotiations can take time. In fact, school administrators often spend days or even weeks working on a single agreement.

Last year, Cybera launched the Pika Identity Federation to take some of this time-draining work away from individual schools. The committee overseeing the federation — which is made up of school representatives — negotiates the login requirements with education tool providers, saving a great deal of time for administrators. Pika also provides single-sign-on capabilities and account management, so administrators don’t need to manage multiple accounts for students, and students need only remember one password to access online services.

The User Experience

Darcy Bromling, the IT Coordinator for Peace Wapiti School Division No.76, was an early user of the Pika service. Here, he speaks more about the benefits he has seen from joining Pika, and why he thinks more schools should get involved.

“Most of our involvement with Pika so far has been to get set up on Adobe Creative Cloud,” says Darcy. “We had to transition really quickly to the Adobe service, and it would have taken us a long time to go through the learning of what they know [about the individual students logging in] and what we know. And we just didn’t have this time. But it was quick and easy to get set up using Pika.”

He adds: “The fact that Pika is a federation is a double benefit. Federations just ensure that everyone is compliant with the agreed-upon rules when it comes to data privacy. Unfortunately, many schools in Alberta today aren’t using a federation, or they are using something like Google. Is that fully autonomous? No. So it’s not really ideal.

“I think most school administrators know that they should be using a federation, but it can take a lot of time and effort to get that setup on their own, as they have to do a lot of back-and-forth with vendors. And most of us just don’t have the time for that.

“What’s great about Cybera is they will walk you through the setup and what you need to do. They’re really good with helping schools with the learning curve.”

“Another important thing to keep in mind is that the Pika service can scale. Once you start, it’s very easy to add on more services, or take them off. And as it grows, Cybera will be able to add even more options to their catalogue.”

For more information on the Pika service, and how to get involved, contact Cybera team at membership@cybera.ca.

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