Interoperability in Education
Students need challenging and engaging learning experiences. Teachers need tools to help them plan, deliver and report on learning programs that meet student needs. Parents expect to monitor and support student progress through online links to schools.
Interoperability in education can be described through practical applications, including:
- Improved access to learning resources and teaching tools
- Reliable and secure transfer of student data
- Online assessment and performance monitoring, and the linking of datasets used for reporting purposes
- Integration of products and services from multiple providers to create a seamless user experience
- Access to the same service on a variety of devices
With the growing dependence on information and communication technology (ICT) in education, the need for the interconnection of systems is essential. The challenge is maintaining connections between systems spirals, as the number of systems grows.
Systems Interoperability Framework
In order for data to be used as effectively as possible, both systems and policies need to be in place to ensure that data reaches the right people, who need to access it to deliver the best experience for students in education, without it reaching the wrong people, compromising student privacy and safety.
At a technical level, data mobility takes the form of interoperability. In turn, Interoperability relies on technical standards which act like a common rail gauge for sharing data between ICT systems, allowing information to be exchanged accurately, efficiently and economically. It relies on using agreed data standards and common approaches to connecting ICT systems.
With agreed standards in place delays often experienced in IT projects can be reduced or eliminated and efficiencies achieved through the re-use of processes, data and infrastructure.
Interoperability however is only one aspect of data mobility. Data mobility also requires a common understanding between parties about the data being exchanged, and a common policy environment to ensure that privacy and security are respected in any information transfer.
The IT landscape in Australian education is diverse, with hundreds of different commercial offerings exchanging data with each other and with thousands of schools, either directly, or via school systems. Schools and school systems also exchange data with a number of government agencies, including the Commonwealth.There are contexts where a data exchange involves information specific to the two parties involved, which cannot be replicated elsewhere; but it is unreasonably costly and inefficient for every data exchange to be treated as its own separate API with a custom data model. Most exchanges involve the same bundles of recurring information, which can be represented using a common standard.
- REST-based infrastructure for message exchange, including request/response and publish/subscribe, changes-since queries, and bulk object operations;
- Data model covering administrative and establishment data essential to the operation of schools, including student and staff data, timetabling, attendance, financials, and student wellbeing.
- The Achievement Standards Network (ASN) data profile for encoding curriculum data, used to represent the Machine Readable Australian Curriculum. NSIP is responsible for updating the local profile of the ASN encoding to meet the needs of the Australian Curriculum, and is involved in generating the machine readable representation.
- The Experience API (xAPI) standard for gathering and exchanging learning events and experiences as streaming data.
- Standards from the 1EdTech (formerly IMS) standards ecosystem; our past work has included Questions and Test Interoperability, OneRoster, Learning Tools Interoperability, and Common Cartridge.