Five Reasons to Use Single Sign-On in Schools

Single sign-on uses a school district’s identity provider software (such as Microsoft Active Directory or Google G Suite) to support student authentication on devices, when accessing the school network, or when using district software.  Single sign-on provides three broad categories of benefits to teachers: increased instructional time, stability and support across the school, and reduced teacher liability.

When Single Sign-On (Enterprise Logins) are turned on by the district technology staff, students and teachers need only to click-through the regular district sign-in dashboard (such as the G Suite drop-down dashboard).  The first time a student or teacher clicks on the icon for ArcGIS Online, their account is created and they are automatically logged in using their school district credentials.  When teachers who previously used bulk/batch methods of creating student accounts see how fluid and perfect this approach is, we hear words like “incredible” and “awesome”.

Aside from the “wow-factor”, we’ve noticed at least five reasons most districts should consider moving to single sign-on with ArcGIS Online.

Focus on Instruction

1.    Teachers have minimal (if any) user account management with SSO.  Without SSO, how much time have you spent creating (and managing) student accounts? How long does it take to reset the passwords for students who have forgotten their login?

2.    One-click and students are in ArcGIS Online – requiring zero-time during a class period, allowing more time for instruction to go further.

Stability and Support

3.    Single sign-on moves GIS from the periphery in a classroom to mainstream – as everyone in the school/district can automatically access AGO.  Don’t worry, you can request more users or credits for your school organization at no cost from Esri (assuming responsible prior usage).

4.    Reduce dependence of ArcGIS Online on long-term presence of one particular teacher in a school. This means that spatial habits of mind and mapping tend to become institutionalized – allowing you to better establish a program that will stand the test of time.


5.    Teachers don’t have to assume the liabilities of making IT security decisions or ensuring student privacy. When the technology department implements SSO, they’ll conform logins to district policy – protecting everyone! Do your students’ ArcGIS Online accounts have passwords that conform to district password policy?

While some teachers report working with district technology staff to be challenging (and vice versa), the benefits of SSO vastly outweigh the costs in most cases.  If you’re interested in moving forward, talk to your district technology or edtech staff.  Technology directors, talk to your social studies or science curriculum directors and make a plan today.

For more information on the state of single sign-on with ArcGIS Online in K12 education, visit the K-12 landing page at