Bridging the Digital Divide, Part 3: Automating Provisioning for Improved Accessibility

April 18, 2019

Every summer, school district IT professionals across the country are faced with the daunting task of preparing for the upcoming school year; onboarding new staff and students, creating their necessary digital accounts, granting and revoking permissions to numerous digital resources, and deprovisioning accounts no longer in use.  

For many, these operations are done manually, which is not only time-consuming, but also introduces more opportunity for data entry errors. These mistakes delay access to valuable teaching and learning tools in the first weeks of the new school year, which isn’t exactly setting up teachers and students for success. 

Automating the administrative workflows that make account provisioning and resource rostering possible ensures staff and students have access to everything they need from day one and recaptures valuable time for IT teams. In this installment of the Bridging the Digital Divide series, we’ll discuss how automation of IAM processes can improve digital resource access. To learn more about closing the educational technology gap in your district, check out Part 1 about device-level access and Part 2 about balancing security with accessibility

Manually managing thousands of users’ identities through their lifecycle is challenging for any district.  A single attribute change such as a name, location or grade level requires frequent IT intervention to ensure the users’ access to vital digital tools and applications is not interrupted.  For example, students who transfer between schools must typically wait on their accounts and applications to be updated, resulting in missed instruction time.  Such delays put them at-risk for falling behind.  

Automating these processes using an Identity and Access Management Platform (IAM) such as Enboard allows you to streamline the process of account creation and resource provisioning based on true user identities.  With IAM, user changes like the ones mentioned above and many more, never require the level of downstream changes that need to occur when an attribute is edited using manual workflows.  

Another issue resolved by automating account provisioning processes is communication between the disparate platforms that house your districts’ user data; without some form of centralized IAM system, it can be difficult to ensure updates to user information in one platform are reflected elsewhere in a timely manner. Manual data entry across multiple repositories introduces more opportunity for mistakes which then are perpetuated in other systems, making the original source of the error difficult to track down. Some user roles such as contractor, vendor, and volunteer may fall outside your districts’ platforms altogether, making provisioning resources for them especially problematic. An IAM platform can coalesce data from multiple sources and serve as an authoritative source for some types of identities, giving you a centralized location where short-term and long-term adjustments can be made and pushed out to other systems that then allocate resources to users accordingly. 

When it comes to achieving truly equitable technology access, automation is essential.  With an IAM solution implemented, resource allocation can be near-instantaneous, enabling users to transition smoothly between identity lifecycle stages with minimal interruption in access to their online assets. Once automated workflows are put into practice, secured, and equitable device access is added as a finishing layer, so that every individual—regardless of where they are or what device they’re using—receives the exact resource permissions and authentication methods needed based on their user identity, then the digital divide can be closed.

From IAM solutions all the way down to device-level access, Enboard can assist you in applying the automation and security tools you need to overcome technological inequality in your district. For further insight into the benefits of automation, be sure to check out our discussion with Enboard President and CTO Michael Knight.