Interoperability — the ability of disparate computer systems to seamlessly share information and integrate their capabilities with one another — is of critical importance for educators interested in operating effective and cost-efficient K-12 learning institutions. To this end, the Consortium for School Networking released an interoperability toolkit this week that bundles past resources created by the nonprofit group and also includes a couple new ones.
The toolkit contains a quiz that allows institutions to self-assess their own systems’ interoperability, a calculator to estimate the costs associated with systems that don’t work well together, documentation on interoperability standards, case studies, language for drafting procurement documents that keep interoperability in mind and communication tools for opening discussions about interoperability with school administrators who may not have the technical expertise needed to understand the full importance of the issue.
Despite the attention edtech leaders are paying to interoperability, it continues to be a critical issue for schools, CoSN CEO Keith Krueger told EdScoop.
“I think it’s a huge challenge,” Krueger said. “It’s one that our audience has talked about for a long time but little action has been taken. I think we’re at an inflection time.”
Though interoperability is a technical issue, the communication and institutional management aspects of the challenge are essential, he said, because otherwise the funds and effort are not put forth to remediate edtech systems.
In a parallel attempt to gain support for interoperability and other technical standards and best practices in education, CoSN is calling on districts to sign its “Project Unicorn” pledge, which the group says demonstrates a commitment to “provide secure access to student data, educate practitioners and families about student privacy, promote equity, as well as ensure fiscal responsibility for education technology purchases.”