Unique complexities can be distilled down to eight truths, and may explain why vendors never seem to meet expectations in K-12 IT.
Consider the information they handle every day. School districts in America today are complex, sophisticated businesses, not only managing multiple applications across multiple platforms, but also managing people and equipment in the real world, like bus fleets, library systems, and cafeterias.
you will find admins working with an average of 30 onsite and online platforms. That’s 30 systems to feed with data and update. The kicker is that those systems might not be on speaking terms with each other.
Interoperability is a multi-headed issue for any IT professional, but in the K-12 education world it is especially complex. These unique complexities can be distilled down to eight truths, and may explain why vendors who have been very successful in other IT verticals never seem to meet expectations in K-12.
The Solution Cannot Be Point-to-Point
Data from many active sources is profoundly difficult to keep current, especially when considering the different protocols used for each particular point-to-point integration.
There Must Be Multiple Ways of Moving Data
A successful broker/dashboard must be able to accommodate all of these integration methods. The broker needs to support it as well as the industry’s existing standards, such as SIF and CSV.
The System Must Merge Disparate Feeds
Data comes into educational systems from a variety of feeds, including CSVs and file sharing. Handling all these feeds develops a vital function, coveted by IT professionals and system admins everywhere: a comprehensive representation of the data truth of your district.
Your Data Solution Must Be Bidirectional
Different systems don’t always talk to each other politely, and with some districts using as many as 30 applications, writing grades back to the SIS can get thorny.
We Need a Flexible Data Model
some of those free or low-cost integrations are profoundly rigid and can’t accommodate the data reality of school districts.
We Must Deal with “Dumb” End Points
In the world of district data, we are moving toward REST APIs and other unintelligent end points. There is no inherent logic in an API that tells the system how to move data. And as mentioned earlier, many legacy systems still depend on CSV’s for data.
Integration Belongs in the Cloud but Must Accommodate On-Premise Apps
know the cloud actually is an ideal setting for interoperability, especially since so many of our applications are cloud-based. It gives you maximum visibility, maximum diagnostic capability and manageability. You can manage from anywhere, anytime.
Be Multi-Tenant with Supervisory Capability
For areas where intermediate units or a Board of Cooperative Educational Standards (BOCES) provide IT services to districts, the system admins need a big picture approach. The integration platform must allow the IU or BOCES to troubleshoot, diagnose, manage, and support multiple districts in one dashboard, but only show district personnel data belonging to their organization. State education agencies also have this need.
There are several reputable companies that provide an iPaaS–in fact Gartner compared 20 of them in their 2017 Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Integration Platform as a Service. However, without a deep understanding of education data models, even these vendors may fall short, and may be expensive.
more on IT for K12 in this IMS blog