The Schools Interoperability Framework Association (SIFA) has reached agreements with three leading international ed-tech organizations to help ease the integration of educational software programs in schools around the world.

SIFA will collaborate with the United Kingdom’s BECTA, Europe’s European Schoolnet, and Australia’s education.au limited. Collectively, these organizations will work together to “lead the technical development of a world-class specification and certification program to enable data interoperability for education,” SIFA said.

The three international agencies will work with SIFA in their respective countries to convene education stakeholders, identify their collective data needs, and develop solutions for data interoperability–from the school to the government level.

“All countries are coming to grips with … the need for high-quality data to measure efficiencies and how schools are impacting the learning of students,” said Larry Fruth, SIFA’s executive director. “The goal of bringing on international partners with SIFA is to help identify the correct local players in the education space and assist in gap analysis between their systems [and SIF].”

He added: “SIFA does recognize that there will be local data sets that are specific to each nation, but in trying to minimize them as much as possible, we could enable data movement globally.” Currently, there are “localizations” of the current SIF specification underway in both the U.K. and Australia, Fruth said. The first step in SIFA’s international partnerships is to have local leaders “engage their constituents, identify their needs, and then see how the SIF specification can be modified to support their work,” Fruth said. Ideally, he said, the collaborations eventually will result in a core specification applicable across the globe, a group of localized data sets, and an international certification program to test against. The main goal of SIFA’s international activities is to “not [have to] reinvent the wheel in specification development,” Fruth said. “We want to share our successes and challenges with others, develop a better specification and certification program, and open up opportunities for collaboration across the globe.” He added: “With the current SIF specification focused on student administration data, our international partners have a great head start on teaching and learning specification usage–and we want to learn from them as our specification evolves to support that activity.”

For current and future SIFA members, these agreements will give them access to leaders in ed-tech use and policy development across the globe, expand market opportunities, and provide access to best-practice examples from international learning initiatives.

“These agreements benefit SIFA members by providing pilot opportunities and international exposure,” said Fruth. “Collectively, we need to leverage each other’s work–without re-inventing the wheel in data interoperability issues–and provide real solutions for stakeholders across the globe.”

BECTA (the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency) is the U.K.’s lead partner in the development and delivery of ed-tech strategies and leadership for that nation’s schools. European Schoolnet is an international partnership of more than 26 European Ministries of Education; its mission is to foster technical innovation and interoperability through common standards, with the goal of enabling closer collaboration among European educational systems to improve efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Education.au limited is a national nonprofit agency owned by Australia’s education and training ministers. It builds and maintains national online information services and products that meet the needs of Australia’s education and training sectors.

Links:

BECTA
http://www.becta.org.uk

European Schoolnet
http://www.eun.org

education.au limited
http://www.educationau.edu.au