My time at a state education agency provided clarity around two related areas of need that schools have: technology decision-making and data management. And that is the rub – the entire data enterprise has become more complex. We all agree that effective usage of technology can provide long-term benefits, not the least of which is abundant data about learners, for use by practitioners to improve teaching and learning processes.

As the lead of the SIF Association (a unique, global non-profit community of thousands of schools, government agencies, non-profits, and commercial entities who openly collaborate to build free technical blueprints for data management) there are some immediate actions the broader community can take – no matter which hat you wear:

  • Schools and governments need to demand technical solutions built to openly and collaboratively developed, freely available technical specifications. Would you allow for dozens of different electrical outlets be used in your building? Have you travelled globally with differing voltage? Complicated!
  • Solution providers need to collaborate using these standards and reduce the “one-off’s” and “platform lock-in’s” that tactically solve short term problems, yet don’t satisfy the accelerating demands for the secure and intelligent delivery of data to all constituents.
  • Standards organizations and philanthropic entities should align and fund this technical blueprint work, no matter what constituency, to eliminate the growing “either/or” propositions currently being forced on end users and developers. Governments also could support this by linking funding to the usage of such standards.

It is time we as a community of stakeholders work “with” schools and not “at” schools.

Larry Fruth, PhD, is currently the Executive Director of the SIF Association. The SIF Association is a non-profit membership organization comprised of over 3,200 educational institutions, government agencies and vendors whose mission is the development of a global platform independent, vendor-neutral blueprints for data sharing among software in education internationally.