Three Ways to Streamline Your Digital Ecosystem

March 05, 2021 Todd Mahler By Todd Mahler
Teacher working on a tablet

As school districts adopt new technology, education leaders are promised a digital ecosystem that will propel them into the future. But often, it’s teachers who are dropped into a technological Wild West where communication is chaotic and the learning curves are steep.

To wrangle different platforms and ensure they all speak the same language, administrators and IT leaders have been implementing data interoperability strategies for a richer student-centered experience.

By putting a data interoperability plan into action and selecting partners who are dedicated to common goals, districts free teachers from having to learn several systems, manually input data, or review multiple dashboards. Instead, they have actionable data available at their fingertips to tailor instruction and maximize student outcomes.

We put together a list of our top three recommendations for streamlining your digital ecosystem to make it a smoother experience for everyone involved.


1. Start with a Vision

Rather than slapping a band-aid on integration issues, take the time to determine what your district is aiming to achieve through interoperability. The tech procurement cycle and eventual rollout can be an overwhelming process for everyone, and without a coordinated roadmap in place, you could invest thousands of dollars and many hours just to return to square one.

Successful data interoperability requires input from all stakeholders, including both IT and curriculum and instruction leaders, to uncover challenges with the current technology and determine attainable goals that improve data quality and accessibility.

Frustrated teachers may see technology as a problem, so inviting them to have a seat at the table to ease their skepticism is critical. By showcasing collaborative digital ecosystems that put educators’ and students’ needs first, such as the blueprint developed by the Tucson Unified School District, IT leaders can gain teachers’ buy-in and inspire them to embrace the new implementation.


2. Adopt a Standards-Based Approach

Because every school district is different, an interoperable ecosystem needs to be both agile and customized to meet the specific needs of educators and their students. As new digital learning solutions are implemented, district leaders must identify their digital transformation strategy to allow for data sharing between different systems.

Fortunately, you don’t have to go at it alone. Organizations like IMS Global have developed data standards that support and advance digital learning ecosystems to ensure both districts and their partners are on the same page. IMS Global, for instance, is one of the largest standards consortia in the world with more than 400 suppliers and institutions invested in delivering integrated, data-driven solutions.

By scaling a standards-based approach to your evolving ecosystem and working with committed partners, your district can simplify workflows for educators and students, reduce costs and implementation times, minimize security risks, and streamline the gathering of analytics to improve learning outcomes.


3. Remember, It’s Not Just About Technology

To most people, data interoperability is nothing more than technological jargon. Teachers and administrators don’t want to get into the nuts and bolts of interoperability. They just want data funneled into one dashboard that is simple to contextualize and interpret. As Tim Clark of IMS Global explained to EdTech, “Increased focus on interoperability by key stakeholders allows the technology to fade into a support role.”

As you develop your interoperability plan, it’s essential to work with digital curriculum partners who clearly understand both your technical and educational goals. The right partner will adhere to the standards and demonstrate a commitment to Project Unicorn, the national initiative dedicated to the secure, controlled interchange of data.

When you partner with the right digital curriculum provider, they will take the time to understand your district’s needs and broad administrative goals. Together you can build a digital ecosystem that empowers teachers and provides your students with the opportunity to thrive in an engaging learning environment.

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