Considering how everything works together
A major aspect of selecting new software and digital content in the district should focus on data interoperability. Information for and about students exists in multiple applications and systems. Data from any one of the available data sets can be made much richer and more revealing when educators are able to mix it with data from other sources. Without data interoperability, goals such as developing personalized instruction for every student will always be out of reach, because the information needed by teachers is too hard to access or too difficult to work with.
Broadly speaking, data interoperability requires consistent data definitions, enables the sharing of information across systems, and facilitates the search and discovery of education resources. A number of interoperability initiatives are helping to ensure that school software can share data and make relevant digital content resources “findable.”
Decisions regarding data interoperability must also encompass security and privacy, which goes hand in hand with student data.
To ensure the right level of data interoperability in the software and digital content your school or district uses, have your education leaders and data experts evaluate it from the following perspectives:
- Does the vendor follow appropriate standards-based data definitions such as those developed by Common Education Data Standards, IMS Global Learning Consortium, Learning Resource Metadata Initiative, P20 Electronic Standards Council or Schools Interoperability Framework Association? (These do not compete with each other; the standards they have created are intended for distinct purposes.)
- Does the software allow for sharing of information across applications by adhering to standards developed in these types of initiatives: Digital Passport, Ed-Fi Alliance, Experience API, MyData, or OpenBadges? (Again, these do not compete; they address specific types of data sharing.)
- Does the software enable the search, alignment and discovery of digital content through the use of initiatives such as Learning Registry or Learning Resource Metadata Initiative?
Student security and privacy
- Does the school or district communicate with the families in its school community what data it collects, who has access to it, and how it uses the data?
- Does the school or district educate teachers and staff, students and parents about appropriate data handling and usage to minimize abuses, misuses and the risk of data theft?