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Think It’s Hard to Remember Your Passwords? At Least You Know Your ABCs

Clever Inc. built a K-12 student login management system that many grown-ups will envy.

Think It’s Hard to Remember Your Passwords? At Least You Know Your ABCs
[Photo: Flickr user Kevin Jarrett]

Keeping track of passwords is a challenge at every organization. But it’s especially challenging in schools, where teachers can find themselves spending valuable computer lab time helping young students reset their passwords for various learning apps.

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Clever, a startup focusing on account management for students and teachers, says market research has shown teachers spending up to a quarter of their computer lab time just getting logged in.

“The problem is exacerbated when you’re working with a really young student population,” says Clever CEO Tyler Bosmeny. “You have third-graders who are just learning to type who are being expected to remember 10 different usernames and passwords.”

Clever’s system lets them remember just one set of credentials which automatically logs them into a wide range of compatible educational apps. If schools already have students logging into a system like Microsoft’s Active Directory or Google Apps for Education, Clever’s APIs can translate those existing logins to accounts on other apps, he says.

And Clever can integrate with a number of popular student information management systems to keep track of things like when students move from one school or class to another and need accounts on new apps, he says. Those kinds of changes may seem rare, but they’re common enough in large school districts to present administrative challenges, he says.

Similar technologies do exist in the enterprise space, but Clever addresses challenges that are particular to the K-12 world. As difficult as remembering passwords can be for office workers and online shoppers, it’s even worse for kindergartners who are still learning their letters and numbers.

“The reason I see this [growing] faster in education than anywhere else is just because the need is so much higher,” says Bosmeny. “The problem is exacerbated when you’re working with a really young student population.”

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And as school administrators and parents have become more conscious of the need for student privacy, school systems are anxious to move away from ad hoc solutions that involve writing down passwords or passing around spreadsheets of login information.

Since Clever’s focused purely on account management, and not part of a larger company selling other educational software, it is quickly expanding its network of supported software. Earlier this week, GlassLab announced that Clever’s instant login would become available for its SimCityEDU: Pollution Challenge game this year.

“There’s an incredible network effect when more and more developers support the common way of doing things.,” says Bosmeny, who credits much of the company’s growth to the work its coders have done facilitating integration with schools and software vendors.

“You’ve got to make it easy,” he says he’d advise other entrepreneurs building identity systems for other markets.

About the author

Steven Melendez is an independent journalist living in New Orleans.

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