Over the past summer our team had the fun of deploying Classlink OneSync to one of the school district’s we help. The previous school year we helped the district migrate away from Clever to the Classlink Launchpad product.
Like many districts every year is becoming more and more of a challenge. How do you make things simple for the teachers and students? How do you manage so many different software solutions that need credentials to access them? Protecting a students identity is becoming more and more important. Ideally you want to have one login and password for each user regardless of what they need to access. That includes devices. Classlink OneSync is a great step towards trying to accomplish that. For the districts that keep track of statistics student login issues can eat up your support staffs time. The thought of a product that could reduce that effort was pretty exciting.
Once you get past getting everyone logged in the next thing to worry about is rostering. Every year all the information about what classes are being attended by what students and what teachers are entered into the student information system. Often that info needs to be sent many other places to properly keep track of progress. This can be a daunting process that repeats itself every year. By leveraging the three Classlink products together (Launchpad, OneSync, Roster Server) the time savings could be immense.
The initial process of the Classlink OneSync setup had two options. Hosted or on premise. We opted for the premise version and the server was added as a virtual machine. In the end if you go premise with all the products you will have a sync server, a roster server, and an agent to look up passwords from active directory in real time for the launchpad. For this review we will concentrate on Classlink OneSync and cover the Roster Server and Launchpad in a different review.
The sync server is rather straight forward in how it operates. You have a database of users. You can pull data into the sync server from your SIS and grab as many fields as you want. The options for sources is CSV, Oneroster compatible, and Microsoft AD. The sources are very flexible. You can pull from multiple locations and even manipulate the fields as they are pulled in. Once you get all your data in you get to have fun with it and send it all over the place. The option types are Microsoft AD, Microsoft Azure, and Google GSuite (GAFE).
Now is when the real power of this tool comes into play. They added a nice option here called correlation. When you correlate one of your destinations it basically matches up the user in the sync database and creates a link between the matching account in your destination. That allows you to link the user in the database to their account ahead of time. Using Google as an example a users account would already clearly be linked to their sync account before you turned the destination on. We extensively tested sending to Google and AD. We had no problem pushing the same user accounts to completely different AD databases and keeping them in sync.
Once you get this running and automated there are even more tools available to make your life easier. The option for custom mappings based on selected criteria works well. Auto creating groups and assigning people to the groups based on data you have in fields is also possible.
We were definitely impressed with this product. Classlink is refining and updating this at a quick pace and they have a great team of people to help. Classlink sync was a great addition to the Classlink product line. When used in conjunction with the Roster server and Launchpad you can successfully automate tasks that would take weeks. The system is running now and working well. Look for an update at the end of the school year. We will give statistics on the impact the system had on reported login issues over a school year. If you need any help or assistance setting this up please let us know! We have a lot of experience with installing and deploying this product and were happy to share.