Ensuring that an entire network of schools remains connected in the sharing of critical educational resources is a challenge at the best of times, let alone during a pandemic that has seen the sporadic shutdown of schools.
One organisation that knows this challenge all too well is the Catholic Education Network (CEnet), which supports Catholic Diocese networks by connecting more than 330,000 K-12 students, teachers and admin staff across 770 Australian schools.
Since 2007, CEnet’s work has been focussed on building a network for the sharing of curriculum ideas and resources, including professional development opportunities, as well as helping schools streamline their application access.
Faced with managing an ever-growing array of applications and platforms, CEnet recognised the need for standardised integration to improve agility and provide seamless application access to its large user base.
To achieve this, CEnet recently turned to integration platform specialists Boomi – a company that was acquired by computer giant Dell in 2010 – to provide seamless Identity Access Management (IAM) to 330,000 students and teachers across Australia.
Ian Gregory, Lead Enterprise Architect at CEnet, says the biggest obstacles for Catholic schools when it comes to streamlining information management systems has been timely access to systems (during enrolment, and staff onboarding), and to timely access to data that informs teaching and learning.
However, through leveraging Boomi’s technology, he is confident that these issues will become a thing of the past.
“Although not a typical use case for Boomi, using the platform in this way has vastly reduced complexity and errors as it offers students and staff single sign-on application access to all the tools they need to teach and learn,” Gregory told The Educator.
“CEnet’s integration competency has been enabled through the Boomi technology platform. This technology provides the mechanism for harvesting data from disparate data sets and systems in near real time, so that timely access can be granted, and insights can be derived and presented to those that need it”.
Gregory said there have been a number of examples, mainly secondary schools, where management of identities are considered an internal competency, and core to the running of the local school.
“Boomi has allowed us to reuse these local business processes and integrate these with the broader enterprise identity lifecycle management processes,” he explained.
“This has allowed everyone to play, without the typical ‘centralised’ stance that would otherwise seek to replace the local and important capability within our connected schools”.
He said CEnet also provides single sign on for a range of tools and applications used across the membership.
An example of the benefit was the ease with which staff from across the CEnet membership were able to seamlessly participate in a five-day professional learning event (Catholic Learning Online Summit) via Zoom video.
Gregory said the staff had “little or no need” for local intervention as each staff member had single sign on to Zoom via the CEnet Identity and Access Management solution, all enabled through Boomi.
“The ease with which participants were able to join the common platform for the event meant that there was no barrier for teachers who had limited experience in using the tool,” he said.
“Over 500 staff members from member dioceses were able participate and collaborate with peers from the eastern seaboard, from Far North Queensland to Tasmania”.