Having done rostering for one of the largest districts in the country, I am very familiar with the struggles around the need to give access to a particular platform to teachers and staff who are not scheduled with students. I am talking about district resource teachers, reading, math, and science coaches, special ed teachers, aides, media specialists, administrators, and the like.
Most of the positions I mentioned occupy a support role, which means they don’t have students assigned to them in a course or class. Therefore they are not a part of the rostering process. Depending on the SIS, they might be there as part of an HR module, but when the courses and classes are pulled for rostering purposes, they are excluded since they have no ties to either. That’s an issue.
District personnel typically live outside any SIS but are often responsible for supporting and training a particular platform across the district in multiple schools. If they are creating lessons or modules (especially in a virtual environment), it would be challenging to assist teachers without viewing the content that the online platform provides.
Designating Support Staff As Co-Teachers Won’t Work
It might be tempting to designate those in support roles as co-teachers. A co-teacher has a view into a particular class or classes, giving that person the ability to view all of the students in the class, communicate with them, track their progress, and have all of the same control as the primary or additional co-teacher. Imagine a math coach in an elementary school is made a co-teacher in all of the school’s math sections. Their class list would be unwieldy and difficult to manage, and likely be ineffective. In addition, there are student data privacy issues associated with this scenario.
The vast majority of use cases I have encountered only require that a select group of users can access the entire platform without being designated as a co-teacher. For example, a third-grade teacher using XYZ publisher for reading may only be assigned content associated with that particular grade level. On the other hand, a support person coaching teachers or writing curriculum might need access to the entire suite of K-5 reading content. However, many publishers won’t create accounts for teachers who aren’t assigned classes and ignore them even if they are sent in the file export.
An Easier Way
I have witnessed districts contort their processes in so many ways to get this issue resolved, such as creating dummy schools and districts, side loading all of these support people, or adding them in manually, which the ClassLink Roster Server can do. There is, however, an easier way.
First, it is essential to have collaboration between IT and whoever oversees instructional materials. When negotiating with publishers, contract language must include verbiage that specifies that accounts must be provisioned for users without enrollments associated with them.
A more straightforward solution to this dilemma is to request a single demo-type account that allows multiple concurrent logins to view all platform resources. This view-only role prevents access to sensitive student data and prevents making student-impacting changes. It will likely require access via a separate URL. This approach prevents the need to try and force these users into a roster file through some convoluted process.
How ClassLink Can Help
To provide more seamless access to these resources, ClassLink can create an app in LaunchPad that securely stores these special account credentials and/or special URLs. The credentials are embedded in this SSO app so that users don’t know the credentials, thus preventing unauthorized sharing of login information. LaunchPad provides a highly flexible system for assigning applications very granularly so that this special access is only visible to those who need it. This seamless access eliminates a wide variety of logistical issues normally associated with getting these people secure access.
To have someone on our team walk you through the process or answer any questions you might have, reach out to your Engagement representative or contact our support team.
Thinking differently about these edge cases can save hours, if not days, of frustration for everyone involved. That’s something we could all use as we prepare for a new school year.