We've been using Shibboleth authentication in Moodle for over 3 years here at Kidderminster College. We have also set this up at the RSC West Midland and many other colleges, so this is something that is well tested and stable now. As for the pro's and con's, you will still have the issue of distance learners not being able to reset their passwords once they expire (though this I believe is outside the scope of Shibboleth/Moodle, and a more fundamental IDM issue). You have full control of what users can access, by putting access rules into Shibboleth/yourapp/web server , for example, we have a staff Moodle, where only users with the eduPersonScopedAffiliation of [log in to unmask] can enter, our student Moodle allows all users from Kidderminster to logon. Using these methods you can also allow Shib/Moodle to share your VLE with other institutions by adding them to the access lists. Another bonus is that once users are authenticated against your Moodle, they won't have to logon again when they access any UK federation resources.
The dual option is a good one, though it's not hard to bulk convert all old "manual" users into "shibboleth" users, though you'll still want a manual logon available somewhere to let the main admin user logon (recommended not to be a Shibboleth user, just think if Shibboleth died on you!).
Hope that helps.
From: Discussion list for Shibboleth developments [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Mari Cruz Garcia
Sent: 01 October 2008 09:58
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Seeking feeback for the Shibboleth authentication pluggin in Moodle[Virus Scanned]
I have recently joined the Shibboleth list as our college got the status of IdP in the UK Access Management Federation. I work with Moodle, the current VLE of the college. It has been decided to authenticate the VLE access for both learners and staff via Sibboleth 2.0.We are currently using an LDAP server (over Novell) for validating students' access and a IMAP server for the staff. As far as I am concerned, this is not a good practice, although I have seen it in other British institutions, because every so often, Novell prompts students to reset their passwords, and this was causing a lot of problems with the distance learning students (we need to reset their password for them). Due to the problem that this was causing, I was thinking of uploading off campus students in a txt file, and creating an script that lecturers could run to hide their off campus students when they finished. However, as I was told that we are going to use Shibboleth, I have stopped this initiative.
I have been reading the general technical information about Shibboleth in Internet2Middleware, as well as the authentication plugin files and, in principle, the integration between Moodle and Shibboleth looks pretty straightforward provided the "username" field is well defined. I cannot say about the configuration of the TomCat server in the Shibboleth IDp site, because this is beyond my expertise.
I would like to canvass your professional opinion if you have already started to use Shibboleth to authenticate your users in Moodle, in particular the pros and cons for the off campus students. Sorry if this query looks very basic here, but I posted it in the Moodle UK list and there was no answer.
I personally think that the best option at the beginning is to try a sort of "dual loggin" , keeping the old authentication methods for old users and Shibboleth for creating new users accounts, something similar like the Middlands RSC JISC moodle site:
I also have my concerns about the fact that users authenticated via Shibboleth can roam from one Moodle site to another via the MNET plug in.
What do you think?
Thank you very much for your advice.
Mari Cruz García
ILSS: Learner and Excellence Team
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