The FIDES project aims to offer members of schools in Switzerland a federated digital identity. SWITCH is making its many years of experience available to the project and supporting the project managers from educa.ch.
The pupils of today are the university students of tomorrow. SWITCH hopes to simplify the transition from the school environment to the university landscape. For this reason, SWITCH believes it is important for the identity solution that will be used in schools in the future to offer a good level of compatibility with the SWITCH edu-ID. However, there are additional points of contact between these two worlds. Students at universities of teacher education must navigate between them or even be able to function in both at the same time – during internships, as instructors, or as participants in one of the many training courses for continuing education offered by the universities of teacher education. In addition, services offered by libraries, for example, may be available to members from both spheres to an equal extent. SWITCH is contributing to the FIDES (Föderation von Identitätsdiensten für den Bildungsraum Schweiz) project with the goal of offering the best possible user experience for these use cases. The FIDES project is headed by the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK).
Maximum consistency could be achieved if the same solution were to be used in both cases. This was certainly one of the options discussed by an educa.ch working group during the second half of 2018, with the participation of cantonal representatives and SWITCH. However, considerable differences between these two spheres had to be considered. For example, schools have key requirements that include procedures for dealing with minors and considerations regarding the role of parents and guardians, but these are no longer relevant in the context of universities. In addition, FIDES integrates schools primarily via the system of cantonal authorities. By contrast, universities’ systems are normally connected directly. Moreover, governance in the two spheres should be perceived through separate bodies.
The working group has therefore recommended that FIDES establish an independent identity federation with its own governance structure. However, the applicable protocols and the structure of the information being shared should be designed to ensure maximum compatibility.
At present, educa.ch is overseeing several pilot projects between the cantons and key companies in the private sector. These will form the basis for future integration into the federation. Meanwhile, the project managers at educa.ch are preparing for the education policy decisions that are expected to be made in June 2019 during the EDK plenary assembly. The operational rollout is planned for the beginning of the 2020/21 school year.
SWITCH will then be providing further support on two levels:
SWITCH hopes that the FIDES project will be very successful and looks forward to the continued collaboration.
More information about the FIDES project can be found at https://fides.educa.ch/.
The contact person at FIDES is the project leader, Alan Moran <Alan.Moran@educa.ch>.