“With Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite, students and faculty have access to a customized portal with one-click access to all the resources they need, as well as the assurance that if their information is forgotten or compromised they can quickly change their password.”
John Spiratos, Director of Information Technology,
Los Alamitos Unified School District
Los Alamitos Unified School District is a 10,000 student District in Los Alamitos, California. Known for a long-standing legacy of excellence in academics, athletics, activities and the arts, each of its schools have been honored either as California Distinguished Schools and/or National Blue Ribbon Schools.
As a significantly large school District, Los Alamitos was looking for a way to effectively and securely manage the many applications students and staff use daily in order to provide advanced, 21st century education. The IT team was dedicated to upgrading the District’s infrastructure and ensuring that students had access to the most current applications to prepare students for college and career readiness. Some schools were leveraging Microsoft Office 365, while some were using Google Apps for Education as their communication and learning platforms, as well as several other applications. Some schools used various Windows laptops, while others used Chromebooks. These various types of systems empowered engagement and learning in the District’s classrooms.
With such a large and varied framework of resources for students and staff, the District ran into several challenges with security, administration of accounts and accessibility. From a security standpoint, students and staff struggled with password management. Password changes required them to contact the District’s IT department, for security reasons. With each student and staff member charged with remembering and regularly resetting passwords for several applications, this put a huge burden on the District’s IT department. Users would often forget passwords, especially younger children or some faculty whose passwords expired every 90 days.
These challenges were disruptive to Los Alamitos School District’s learning environment. According to John Spiratos, Director of Information Technology for Los Alamitos Unified School District, “Lessons were disrupted when teachers or students were not able to log in at the start of a class session. Faculty members preparing lessons or grading papers from home were set back by having to wait until the next day to access the resources they needed.” With 10,000 students and 1,000 employees, the school District’s IT team was often overwhelmed with support calls, which limited its ability to pursue other educational projects beneficial to the District’s schools.
Los Alamitos Unified School District worked closely with SADA Systems to pursue a solution to ensure that students and staff always had secure access to the resources they need. The District chose SADA in part because it is both a Microsoft National Solutions Provider and Google Premier Partner, and was able to provide a solution benefitting schools running on Microsoft Office 365 as well as those on Google Apps for Education. The District was also leveraging various educational applications across various sites for elementary, middle and high schools, such as Khan Academy and Google Classroom, Docs and Drive, and were looking for a Single Sign-On solution to make it easier to log in and connect to their applications. “SADA Systems’ partnership was extremely valuable in guiding our school District through this transformation,” shared Spiratos. “Since SADA is engaged and in touch with the latest industry and technical knowledge, they know what tools are out there and which ones could effectively solve our challenges.”
SADA Systems guided Los Alamitos through the District-wide implementation of Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS), an array of applications to enable security and mobility. “What’s so powerful about Microsoft EMS is that it enables the security and mobility our students and staff need, whether they are using Office 365, Google Apps or another of the thousands of applications or devices that EMS supports,” said Spiratos.
SADA Systems implemented a centralized, customized web portal for Los Alamitos Unified School District, and transitioned the District to Azure Active Directory Premium (AD Premium) to enable Single Sign-On and self-service password management. The portal provided a central access point for students and staff, allowing one-click access to the array of resources available and the ability to reset their password anytime, anywhere – without waiting for IT network administration. The portal was also customizable, allowing a unique experience for different grade levels or school sites.
SADA also integrated Azure Rights Management (RMS), providing users with the ability to set access and sharing restrictions on documents. RMS is particularly important for the District’s FERPA compliance status, to ensure that sensitive student information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
Results and Benefits
Spiratos explained, “Our goal was to minimize the challenge of remembering passwords and accounts. With Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite, students and faculty have access to a customized portal with one-click access to all the resources they need, as well as the assurance that if their information is forgotten or compromised they can quickly change their password.” EMS has greatly reduced the number of support calls and password change requests the IT department receives, allowing them to work on more proactive projects to benefit the school Districtict and focus on 21st century learning.
Spiratos also explains the benefits of Azure Rights Management: “With RMS, our administration has peace of mind knowing we are in compliance with the FERPA regulations. We can set restrictions so that documents with sensitive student information can not be opened, shared or forwarded to individuals without authorized access.”
Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite has provided Los Alamitos School District with the ability to securely promote a learning environment that leverages the latest technologies and devices. “Now our students and faculty can be more productive in the classroom and fully engaged in amazing academic lessons instead of wasting valuable time trying to login, because they have one portal where they can go and click on their most used applications,” said Spiratos. Students and faculty can freely access an array of applications and resources without technological limitations or frustrations, regardless of device or whether they are using Office 365, Google Apps, or an array of other applications, such as Khan Academy.
Microsoft EMS has empowered Los Alamitos Unified School District to foster a dynamic, BYOD learning environment, with the security and access controls in place to allow simple, secure access to valuable educational devices, tools and applications.
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