Secure Access to Student Information Systems (SIS) – from anywhere, via any device

ILAN PARETSKY on January 11, 2017 | 1837

Student Information Systems (SIS), have streamlined the flow of student data in school districts and on college campuses in much the same way that ERP software streamlines data flow between various business functions across an enterprise. Administrators, teachers, students and their parents can all access the student information system to manage or view student data such as registration, grades, scheduling, attendance, transcripts and more.

While some of these systems are Windows-based, users are increasingly demanding access to the SIS on a variety of devices, including Macs, Chromebooks, smartphones and tablets. Moreover, staff, students and parents need the ability to access the system from various places within as well as outside the school. As a result, more and more colleges, universities and schools are implementing cloud-based SIS services that can be accessed from anywhere, and on a wide array of devices.

A major drawback of this option is that data stored on the cloud is necessarily more vulnerable. Schools and universities store an array of sensitive personal information about their students, making them potentially attractive targets for security breaches, such as those experienced by retail corporations or healthcare providers.

A more secure solution is to utilize flexible remote access technology to deliver SIS software to authorized users from whatever device they are using. HTML5 access technology in particular can ensure native browser access from pretty much any device with an Internet connection, making it ideal for BYOD scenarios. The system is not cloud-based, but users can’t really tell the difference. They simply browse to the provided URL on their preferred device and log in – no need to install or configure any software or use plug-ins like Flash or Java.

For example, the East Haven Connecticut Public School District uses Ericom’s HTML5 access solution to provide teachers with browser-based access from Chromebooks to PowerSchool Gradebook. The district’s 300 teachers had begun using Chromebooks for both classroom presentations and lesson planning. Technology experts reported that when they visited schools in the district, they saw fewer teachers sitting in front of desktops and more teachers with Chromebooks in their hands.

However, as a Java-based application, PowerSchool Gradebook could not be accessed on these Chromebooks. Hence, a complete migration to Chromebooks necessitated a technological solution that would allow teachers to input grades from these devices during breaks in the school day, as well as at home on the weekends. With Ericom AccessNow, they are able to access PowerSchool Gradebook from any standard browser, and can easily input data from their Chromebooks, or even from their smartphones if needed. 

Remote access technology is also being utilized by the South Gloucestershire Council. The council encompasses 115 schools from K-12, and its smaller schools were finding it increasingly difficult to develop, maintain and fund the necessary IT systems to adapt and expand services to support their curriculums. This led the council to develop a centralized system for all its schools, comprising nearly 50,000 end users. 

Teachers in the council use Capita SIMS to track students’ progress and attendance. Using Ericom's flexible remote access solution, teachers are now able to update these records from anywhere, without requiring any client-side installation. All sensitive student information is stored within the school’s data center and not on the devices themselves, alleviating security concerns.

As an added bonus, this solution allowed schools to continue functioning during a series of destructive floods that necessitated evacuation of the school buildings. The schools were able to relocate to other premises without losing access to their work and resources.

As schools integrate more technology to improve interactions between students, parents and teachers, secure and efficient SIS access becomes ever more critical. Secure and flexible, HTML5 remote access technology provides an ideal combination of high performance and ease of use.

Click here to learn more about Ericom’s access solutions for educational institutions.

Author | 36 Blog Posts

Ilan Paretsky

Chief Marketing Officer | Ericom Software

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