With the transition to remote education, the use of learning management systems has considerably increased. Some teachers admit to using over 17 tools for a 360-degree view of students. They have to log in and off multiple times per day to access different kinds of records.
Fortunately, there is a way to optimize learning management systems. Building eLearning solutions with decent data interoperability, educators and technology providers can collect all the critical information in one place. With APIs in ed-tech, data sharing is more than easy. API management platforms allow integrating ready solutions through APIs, eliminating the need for pricey custom development.
Find out more about educational data interoperability and how APIs in e-learning help to achieve it below.
The Face of Data Interoperability in TechEd and Why You Need It
The problem of data interoperability in the e-learning industry has been inevitable. Any field that unites many stakeholders using different software is sure to face it. At some point, the excess of data and tools starts to hamper everyday tasks and communication.
Imagine a teacher who wants to learn more about a student to tailor the educational program. Without data interoperability, they need to log in to district student information systems for formative assessments, check previous year achievements in the state data systems, use the teacher's electronic grade book, learning object repository, and homework platform. Then they have to connect all the data to make sense of it. Switching between dozens of edtech platforms takes too much time and slows down the educators. Besides, these e-learning solutions often generate data in different formats, which additionally complicates information processing.
The lack of quality data management also affects the daily routine of students, researchers, universities, official bodies, and other stakeholders.
The implementation of interoperable e-learning solutions can improve the connection between teams and data records. A teacher will access information from multiple tools in a single interface to see all the details.
Why You Need Data Interoperability
Even though ed-tech interoperability standards only start shaping, in the upcoming years, the Schools Interoperability Framework and other specifications will gain power. Developers and users of learning management systems for K-12 schools, universities, and other educational bodies will need to follow interoperability rules.
Apart from compliance, there are more valid reasons to join data from student information systems and other apps. The interoperability of digital learning platforms improves the quality of education, especially if it’s remote. It allows teachers to make more data-driven decisions about each student and personalize programs. Family members can track the progress of learners to know when help is needed. Schools also get a chance to share information with official bodies more easily, which facilitates administrative tasks and data analytics in education.
4 Challenges of Educational Technology Interoperability
The transition from disparate solutions to data interoperability in the entire e-learning industry is a time-consuming process. It requires the implementation of the schools interoperability framework across organizations. The need for investment is also huge.
These are the main challenges the implementation of data interoperability entails:
#1. Budget constraints
Compared to the healthcare industry or finances, education had no market driver to encourage vendors to adopt data interoperability. Therefore, districts and educators showed little interest in digital transformation for a long time. As a result, the budget spent on educational technology was limited for many years. The Education Week Research Center's report shows that in 2018, 80% of K-12 edtech leaders considered a small budget a serious limitation to improving data interoperability in their district. After a series of lockdowns, the government only starts to admit the importance of data interoperability in education. Hence, it may take some time to increase the financing of districts and promote digital transformation locally.
#2. No understanding why interoperability matters
Since the educational industry lags in terms of interoperability, a lot of stakeholders still neglect its importance. Many K–12 IT departments don’t have enough people and time to audit their systems or think about how to bring the records together. They are used to existing LMS systems and keep switching between multiple third-party apps.
The vendors offering advanced platforms will need to convince people at premises that data sharing is efficient and good for personally identifiable information security. It takes additional resources and the understanding of business and practical benefits of interoperability.
#3. Too many tools and digital learning platforms
There are tons of mandatory and optional e-learning solutions used by students, teachers, and schools apart from LMS systems. Therefore, organizations that want to achieve data interoperability need to connect an array of tools. The integration strains resources and is difficult to complete if you don’t use APIs in ed-tech.
#4. Lack of staff expertise and in-house resources
Although data interoperability implementation through API management platforms is easier than custom software development, it requires tech skills. Most schools and organizations don’t have the necessary specialists. Insufficient expertise was named one of the educational data interoperability challenges by 71% of K-12 edtech leaders .
Why APIs Have Become a Key Solution for Interoperability in Education
Schools have been using learning management systems (LMS) for teaching students for years. This software allows management, documentation, monitoring, automation, and delivery of training programs and learning courses. With the spread of remote learning, the requirements for the capabilities of learning management systems have evolved.
Remote education means that students and teachers use much more tools that generate data to be stored. These records are essential to track the learning progress, create students’ profiles, or collaborate. Hence, to stay effective, modern LMS systems must communicate with third-party software and share data.
Yet, until recently, it was impossible. Most learning management systems kept data in built-in reporting structures with limited access. To run data analytics in education, it was necessary to manually compile reports. The spread of APIs in e-learning has eliminated these barriers through enhanced data interoperability.
The use of APIs for protocol interoperability helps to deal with the main challenges of educational technology interoperability. API integration is quick, secure, and cost-effective. Besides, the return on investment of such a solution exceeds expenses.
The application programming interfaces supported by LMS solutions allow sharing data with external systems. It enriches LMS solutions with additional data and, vice versa, supplies third-party tools with valuable LMS records. As a result, educators can view the previous and current achievements of students to personalize the program. The learning decisions are backed up with additional information about each student, educational plans, process tracking features, course materials, etc.
Read also: Education App Development Guide
Most Widely Used Ed-Tech APIs You May Want to Integrate
The use of APIs for protocol interoperability is a creative process that depends on many factors. The integrated tools and personally identifiable information will vary based on the category of end-users.
Administrative teams of educational institutions may need an ERP system for education integrated with accounting or billing software. Researchers benefit from the integration of educational APIs with analytics services. Schools and universities that are the primary edtech users need API integration for LMS interoperability. By connecting third-party e-learning solutions, they power LMS software with additional features and bring data together.
If you also use APIs to manage LMS integrations, consider connecting:
- Google Classroom
- Quizlet Flashcards
- Microsoft Graph Education
- WizIQ Virtual Classroom
- Blackboard Learn
This API selection allows enriching your learning management systems with student activities, collaboration, visualization, and reporting features. They facilitate remote learning and enable automatic recording of students’ activities. Once you complete the integration, all the critical user activity from the third-party tools will become available in the learning management system.
API Integration Services
Although API management platforms and providers share integration instructions, only experienced tech specialists must connect APIs. To achieve interoperability, you may need to join several solutions, configure workflows, secure the collected data, and complete other procedures that require deep tech expertise.
Therefore, educational organizations usually outsource integration to software engineers with relevant experience. Educational software vendors that aren’t proficient in edtech data interoperability also benefit from outsourcing. Instead of wasting time troubleshooting the pitfalls of API integration, they focus on more critical business tasks.
Because of the growing impact of remote, data interoperability trends in education are stronger than ever. Following healthcare and financial industries, educators realize that effective use of multiple tools requires smooth data sharing. Like other domains, they opt for API integration as a tried and tested way to ensure the interoperability of software systems.
Since quality API integration requires technical expertise, many software vendors and educational organizations engage external specialists. Third-party engineers with the necessary experience help to build interoperable LMS and other systems step by step.
Binariks also provides API integration services for educational, healthcare, and other industries seeking software interoperability. We analyze your needs to recommend the most effective way to implement smooth data sharing between multiple solutions.