This article will help you choose the right learner authentication method for your school based on your systems, use case, and preferences. The three sections below offer information that will help you decide on a learner authentication method:

  1. Access Control vs Team Resources: This section helps you choose a method based on the amount of control you want over course access vs the amount of resources you have for configuration
  2. Authentication Survey: This section offers a quick survey that will provide you with an authentication method recommendation based on your responses to the questions.
  3. When to Use Each Method: This section helps you select a method by providing information on when to and when not to use each authentication method.

Access Control vs Team Resources

Northpass offers many different options for authenticating your learners. The choice for your school depends on your preferences on 2 axes: (1) the amount of control you want over who can access your content, and (2) your team’s resources for configuring authentication.

Click here for an overview of the available options.

Authentication Quiz

Take the following quiz to receive a quick recommendation for an authentication method that is best for you, and/or read the next section below on when to use each authentication method.

When to Use Each Method


When to use it

This is a good option for some customers who want to control who has access to their content, or who can't use Shared Accounts due to technical limitations but want to maintain the ability to control access to the school.

When not to use it

If you don’t have a list of learners ahead of time that you want to add to the school and you would prefer for learners to be able to visit the school and access it without you having to manually add them to the school ahead of time, you may want to consider Shared Accounts or Open Access.

Click here to learn how to configure Preregistration.

Open Access (previously known as URL Authentication)

When to use it

Open Access provides a simple and seamless experience for the learner with a very minimal and easy configuration process. It is a good option for people who want the experience of Single Sign-on, but can't get tech resources for implementing SSO. Any learner who visits your school will be able to enter their own information and gain access to your school.

You can still control which courses they have access to using course and group share links, or default group features.

Open Access is also a good option for customers embedding Northpass directly into a native mobile application Mobile Web View.

When not to use it

If you have concerns about protecting the privacy of your content or having access to your school available to anyone, you may want to consider Preregistration.

Click here to learn how to configure Open Access.

Shared Accounts, or Single Sign-On (SSO)

When to use it

Shared Accounts provides a seamless and secure experience when you are using Northpass in conjunction with your product offering. It enables learners to share credentials from your system with Northpass so that they will not need to log in to another platform in order to access your course content. Northpass integrates with OpenID Connect, OAuth 2.0, and Google Apps.

The choice will depend on the technology that your authentication systems are built with.

If your learners are a part of your company's Google Apps, you may choose that option. On its own allows learners to authenticate with their Google Apps account. You can specify accepted email domains. You can also optionally choose to enable Google Apps Directory which will automatically sync all users and organizations from Google Apps to Northpass. Learners and Groups will be added to Northpass hourly.

When not to use it

If you would like to have seamless access, but do not support one of the authentication providers above, you may want to consider Open Access, as it provides a very similar experience without requiring technical resources or specifications to be met.

Click here to learn how to configure Shared Accounts.

Public Access (paid or free)

When to use it

This is a good option if you want any learner in the general public to be able to access your school to enroll in or purchase your courses.

When not to use it

If you would like to control learner or course access, you may want to consider Preregistration, Shared Accounts, or Open Access.

Click here to learn how to configure Public Access.

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