The London MLE is an integrated web based learning management system powered by the Fronter Platform hosted in Oslo. Offering a range of tools for learning and collaboration online, the London MLE was selected in 2007 by London’s local authorities, working collectively as The London Grid for Learning, as the preferred platform for London schools. Currently 1800 schools in London are using the MLE.
2 MIS systems and using schools user data
One important aspect of the MLE is the ability to automatically create users, groups and virtual classrooms based on the school’s timetable. An export routine is setup to push data from the MIS (managed information system) to populate Fronter. This integration is used to create an account for all users held in the MIS, assigning them a Fronter username and password (this is separate from USO usernames). The method of extraction varies with each MIS system, for more information please see the Fronter integration documentation for the relevant MIS system on the Fronter support site http://www.frontersupport.com.
It is important to note that this is a separate process to the data extraction to Atomwide. Both extract similar data resulting in Atomwide and Fronter holding information on users such as name, DOB and UPN but in separate locations.
3 USO and user Matching
Once a school has provisioned USO accounts for staff and students they can request to use these usernames and passwords to access Fronter. To do this they need to raise a ticket on the Atomwide support site to request their schools USO data is released to Fronter. This initiates the matching process that results in a users account in Fronter being updated so that it can be accessed with their USO account.
The matching process itself is relatively simple, Atomwide expose to us a file for every London local authority with details of every user from every school that have requested to use USO usernames in Fronter. On a user by user basis we try to match the data exposed to us by Atomwide with user data Fronter holds. The process will attempt to match on a series of attributes, if a match is found at any stage the Fronter user is update and the process moves on to the next user
The process will attempt to match them in the following order:
1. Unique MIS ID
3. First name surname and date of birth
Where a match is found the Fronter username is updated to the USO username and the password is updated to “ldap1:”
The password for the user is no longer held in Fronter, ldap1: instructs the application to retrieve the password from Atomwide when the user logs in. As a result of this when a users password is changed in USO it’s automatically reflected in Fronter.
4 Logging into Fronter with a USO username
Once the data has been released to Fronter and the usernames have been updated, users will most likely have to change the URL they use to access Fronter. Most users will be used to accessing Fronter from fronter.com/la name, so for example fronter.com/harrow. But usually the login screen at this location is setup to accept a Fronter username rather than a USO username. You can tell by the login screen which kind of username it will accept. Inside London login screens to Fronter take one of three forms, all three are available for all London Fronter buildings
First is the standard LGfl Fronter login screen that will accept Fronter logins, you can tell by the Fronter logo in the bottom right hand corner. This can be found at fronter.com/la name/login/mle
Next is the standard LGfl USO login screen that will accept USO logins, you can tell by the Atomwide logo in the bottom right hand corner. This can be found at fronter.com/la name/login/uso
Last is the standard Fronter login that will accept either type of username but if this login is used then a user will need to login again to access LGfl content. This can be found at fronter.com/la name/login
The type of login that can be found at fronter.com/la name is configurable so to guarantee the correct page users using USO usernames in Fronter should go to fronter.com/la name/login/uso so for example fronter.com/croydon/login/uso.
5 When a user moves schools
When a user moves between schools both using Fronter we check to see if the new user from the new school has an existing account. This is designed to allow a user to keep their existing Fronter account including username, password and personal files, rather than provisioning them a new empty account. To achieve this we first try to match on UPN, if we find a match on UPN we move the existing user into the new school giving the user the new group and room membership. If no match is found on UPN or if the user is a member of staff (and therefore has no UPN) we attempt to find a match on first name, surname and date of birth. If we find a match on name and date of birth we set the user as a conflict that the school admin can resolve (please see FAQ on resolving conflicts).
If no match is found a new user is created, this is why it’s important that the data we receive from schools is correct to facilitate the smooth transition of pupils from one school to another. If a new account is created incorrectly a call to the Fronter help desk can resolve this as we are able to merge these accounts together.
6 Data issues and Common problems
The process described above is it in its most problem free form, and for most schools the update will be free of complications. But there are a number of possible issues that are worth noting. If you experience any of these problems please contact the Fronter support desk for assistance.
6.1 Data matching
Firstly for the matching to take place the data Atomwide and ourselves hold has to match, and as we both pull data from the schools MIS this is mostly the case, but occasionally there are problems that prevent matching. There can be differences in the first names that are sent, preferred to one location and legal to another and there have been issues in the past with variance in dates of birth due to the way the data is extracted. But the most common issue is that a user has been provisioned on one system but not on another, often simply because Fronter has not received an export from the MIS system and therefore has not created users that can be matched to a USO username. To check that a user exists to be matched please look in your all staff or all student group in Fronter, if you can’t see the user in either group please contact Fronter support.
6.2 User can’t login
If a user tries to log into Fronter with a USO username and they receive an error there is a couple of simple things to check. Firstly as mentioned previously make sure they are using the correct url to login fronter.com/la name/login/uso, also crucially make sure the matching has updated the user. The simplest way of doing this is in Fronter is to navigate to the school all staff or all student group and looking for the user in question. If a user still shows their original Fronter username then the matching hasn’t successfully updated the user and they won’t be able to login.
If the user hasn’t been matched you can manually update the user by changing the username to the USO username and the password to ‘ldap1:’ on the users contact card, this is exactly the same as if the user had been updated automatically. If you receive a message stating the username is already in use please contact Fronter support to resolve as the username has already been taken and a account merge is probably required. This is only recommended as a solution if you have one or two users that haven’t matched, if you have any more please contact the Fronter helpdesk for assistance as they should have been updated by the USO username update.
6.3 User can login to Fronter with their USO username but doesn’t have access to our school
This is normally a consequence of a user moving schools and Fronter not being able to find a match on the incoming user from the new school with an existing account. So a situation arises where a new account is created in the new school and the old account with the USO username remains. The user in the new school has access to groups/rooms but has a Fronter username as it can’t be updated to the USO username because it’s taken by another account. The old account with the USO username either has access to the old school or more likely has been removed by the old school and has access to very little. As the USO username is in use updating manully to match with USO won’t work either.
This is a simple problem to resolve and we just need to merge the accounts together, please contact the Fronter helpdesk to do this.
6.4 Governors and manually created USO accounts
Sometimes there is a need to manually create accounts as they don’t exist on a schools MIS and won’t be provisioned automatically. School governors are a good example of this and they often need to be created manually in both Fronter and USO.
As manually created Fronter accounts don’t have an option to add date of birth there isn’t anything that could be used to automatically match with USO usernames. Meaning that matching needs to be done by hand, so when manually creating an account for a governor in Fronter set the username to the USO username and the password to ldap1:. Or if a Fronter account already exists update the username and password on the users contact card.
6.5 If a user has multiple USO usernames and the incorrect one has matched in Fronter
When Atomwide presents us with data to match on it’s possible that there is multiple username which match to the same user in Fronter. If there is multiple matching USO usernames the matching in Fronter will use the first it’s presented with, when it reaches the second it will move on as the user has already been matched to a username. This can result in the incorrect username being used in Fronter. This is a problem that needs to be resolved from the USO end, merging the accounts together so only one user is presented to us.