The use of disparate software products can be a way of life for many K-12 schools and districts. Teachers use anywhere from five to 10 software products – or more – from a gradebook and LMS to products for special education and assessment. Principals and administrators likely use one product to maintain their overall student data information and others still for cafeteria management, transportation, and automated calling.
With all of these separate products made by different companies, education technology interoperability — how well software products communicate, or speak, with each other — can be a lost cause. Users pay the price through wasted time entering or recovering passwords, duplication of data from a lack of communication between products, limited productivity, and weakened educational opportunities for students.
The Benefits of Interoperability
Interoperability within schools and districts is essential for efficiency in powering operations and in maximizing technical ROI. According to the U.S. Department of Education, interoperability between digital systems “has been a design goal for many system architectures and standards groups for decades… The benefits of interoperability are tremendous. It can permit schools and teachers to better exchange data with each other about students who move from one place to another.”
Other benefits schools and districts can realize through interoperability of educational technology products include:
- Saving money by reducing operational costs. Systems that work together reduce the cost of building and supporting a diverse infrastructure.
- Saving time and preventing costly errors. Eliminating multiple sign-ons, lost or forgotten passwords, and duplication of data entry improves efficiency and leads to more accurate data.
- Enabling “best-of-class” solutions. When systems integrate seamlessly, schools and districts can choose the right solutions for their specific needs to enhance student outcomes.
- Maximizing existing investments. Investing in tools that can integrate enables you to leverage the tools you have already purchased.
- Improving student data communication. Schools and teachers can better exchange student information accurately.
What to Look for in Educational Software to Maximize Interoperability
- Compliant and Certified
Products should be Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF®) compliant and SIF® certified; these designations ensure that applications can interact and share data seamlessly in real time, work cross-platform over modern technologies, allow automated reporting, offer single sign-on, and more.
- Flexibility and Scalability
Make sure your student data is in a system that provides for flexibility and scalability. It should feature a standardized method for data exchange to enable timely access to important information across multiple systems.
- API Functional
Products should offer their own REST (REpresentational State Transfer) Application Programming Interface (API) so that custom plug-ins created by licensed partners can be installed, and are controlled by, system administrators.
While using disparate tools may be commonplace in many organizations, K-12 schools and districts that focus on purchasing education tools that are interoperable with other software they are already using are future-proofing their technology. In the process, they can save staff money and time, improve efficiencies, and bolster capabilities for helping students succeed.
To Learn More
Find out how to eliminate traditional technology silos and empower teachers to manage the entire instructional process more efficiently with the award-winning PowerSchool Unified Classroom™. Uncover the hidden costs of disparate K-12 IT systems by downloading the white paper.