OpenID at University

Plenty of people have said in the last few days that there are more OpenID providers than there are OpenID-consuming services.

I have some basic code which, if enabled, would grant everyone at the University I work at an OpenID. This isn’t the challenge though; where could we turn on OpenID consumption in our services?

We offer a lightweight account to external users so that researchers can use tools we provide to collaborate with other researchers here. However we don’t give them out freely and for each account application there needs to be a native user who supports the application. This gives us some technological and social-contract guarantees about who we grant access to.

It’s also a pain in the ass for anyone who does just want to sign in to look at some research data or whatever – they have to apply themselves or ask someone to apply for them first.

Universities in the UK have signed up to rolling out Shibboleth in the next few years which should enable anyone from one university to sign in to the services at another university. I wonder how many of the lightweight accounts we currently grant this would take care of?

So, what are possible use-cases for OpenID at a University?

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5 thoughts on “OpenID at University”

  1. Easy creation of private blogs and wikis for student collaboration projects. I set up a few private wikis during my time at Bath and they proved invaluable for project work – far more useful than e-mailing Word documents back and forth. This would have been way easier if there had been a tool that let me create a private wiki and allow the people in my group to sign in to it by listing their OpenIDs when I created it.

  2. Well we don’t (yet) have any blog support.

    We do have http://wiki.bath.ac.uk and students can use these to their hearts’ content (we’re coding up custom group creation to plug in right now), which uses normal Bath accounts. I don’t see what benefit OpenID would bring to either of these.

  3. Since you’ve already solved the SSO problem for wikis, I’d have to agree with you. If you hadn’t and there was a wiki package that allowed OpenID authentication that would be an obvious win.

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