Educational technology startup Clever has announced a new badge system that allows children to log onto apps by taking a picture of a custom code with the camera on their computer.
The company, which already has an established presence in close to half of U.S. schools, said the product will help students log into hundreds of educational apps without having to type anything themselves.
Instead, young students will be able to show the camera on their computer a personalized "badge." Clever CEO Tyler Bosmeny said doing this will allow student data to remain protected online.
"We're convinced we really stumbled onto something pretty big here," Bosmeny told The 74. "We're getting rid of all this friction for these younger grade levels. It was a problem nobody was talking about but affected teachers everywhere."
The physical badges are customized with a separate code for each student, who can decorate the badge however they want. When it comes time to use various apps on their computers, students visit the Clever Instant Login page. Their badge is held up to the camera on their computer and is then scanned to allow them access. Teachers collect all of the badges at the end of each session and keep them in a safe and secure location.
A pilot of the program has been launched with 200 pre-K and kindergarten students at the Rocketship Brilliant Minds school. Results so far show the students spending an average of one to five minutes typing their passwords, but just 10 seconds with the badge system the first time and only three seconds each time after that.
When the company initially launched just four years ago, their goal was to reduce an overload of passwords at schools. Each time school districts sign up for a new online learning tool, teachers are required to create accounts for their students, each with their own unique password.
In an effort to fix this problem, Clever partnered with education technology companies to create a platform that would offer students the ability to log on to all their apps using just one password. The platform comes free of charge for all school districts.
Since then, the company has raised $44 million and is currently in use in about 50,000 schools throughout the country. However, Bosmeny said teachers continued to see the same problem.
"Teachers came to us and they said âHey, single sign-on is great, but what do you do about the kid who doesn't know their numbers or letters yet?'" he said. "'How are they supposed to log in? Even one username or password is too many for that student.'"
Team members for the company spent two years visiting schools to determine how teachers were keeping track of student passwords. While some classrooms wrote passwords down on the chalkboard, others found teachers logging into each computer for their students, or writing them down on notecards. Bosmeny said each of these methods did not protect student data, and the company found a need for an easier and more secure way to handle the issue.