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Dr. Tim Clark, Vice President of K-12 Programs, 1EdTech1EdTech K-12 Talk

Contributed by:

Dr. Tim Clark, Vice President of K-12 Programs, 1EdTech

 

Our Response to The Nation's Report Card

Recent data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) shows significant and alarming, although not necessarily surprising, declines in student performance since 2019. Some experts will look at the data and try to determine what went wrong and how we should have responded when the pandemic forced us to close schools and completely rethink how we educate students.

There is value to learning from the past, and that analysis will be helpful, but I choose to focus on the future and how we get students back to where they need to be, without putting unnecessary burdens on the already overworked, stressed, and declining number of teachers. 

Here’s the good news. We already have the tools to help students succeed as long as we’re willing to work together toward the solution. 

I will not go so far as to say educational technology can solve everything, but it can be leveraged to make solutions more effective and efficient. To paraphrase one 1EdTech member, once everything falls apart, you have the opportunity to build it back the way you want it, not the way it was. 

We have the opportunity to build an educational system that helps all of our students succeed, but we need to be intentional. Technology isn’t going away, so instead of treating it as a utility, leverage it to your advantage. The key? Bring your curriculum and IT departments together to create the digital ecosystem you need, and one that will have unlimited potential

There are so many tools out there to choose from, and by creating an interoperable digital ecosystem, that is to say, the various systems and apps work seamlessly together, you allow the tools to not only educate kids but also lift some of the additional burdens from educators. 

First, when the tools meet specific standards, you can create a single sign-on system, allowing teachers and students to access all of their tools without remembering different passwords or taking the time to work out the quirks of new products. This way, teachers and students can use the high-quality tools you select.

Not only that, but tools that work together have the ability to talk to one another, providing more valuable data to help guide lessons and to identify what students need the most help with specific subjects and tasks. Let the technology provide the necessary information without requiring teachers to sort through different reports and paperwork. 

We haven’t figured everything out yet, as there is still work to do and inequities to address, but I am confident we will find those solutions together because we’re already seeing it in districts around the country.

So, as you evaluate your individual results and look for solutions, I encourage you to bring your curriculum and IT departments together to find ways to make your technology work for you. Also, don’t forget to reach out to us. Our 1EdTech staff and members are here to help because together, we power learner potential

 

About the Author
Dr. Tim Clark, vice president of K-12 programs for 1EdTech, assists schools and districts in adopting 1EdTech standards and practices to enable interoperable and secure digital learning ecosystems. He also provides strategic leadership and collaboration opportunities for K-12 institutional and state education departments within the 1EdTech Consortium.

 

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Kelly Hoyland, HED Program Manager, 1EdTech1EdTech Talk on Credentials

Contributed by:

Kelly Hoyland, Higher Education Program Manager, 1EdTech

 

Creating a National LER: How 1EdTech Can Help Get Us There

The debate over how or if higher education needs to evolve always comes back to a few central needs and expectations of the students. To sum up, higher education is expensive, so people want assurances that their large investment will get them started on a rewarding career path once they graduate. That concern is compounded for people who aren’t certain higher education is the right path for them because if they don’t finish the degree, they lose all of the time and money they invested before leaving the institution.

One promising solution to all of these challenges, and one that is getting more and more attention, is Learner and Employment Records (LER).

LERs are records that individuals can hold, control, and build on throughout their lives as they acquire new skills. This includes everything from credits earned in higher education to professional development programs, certification assessments, and more. Thus, giving learners the ability to see how their investments tie into career requirements, maintain credit for their work even if they don’t complete a full degree, or can finish the degree on their own time. This also helps improve equity by providing flexibility in how and when a person earns the credentials they need for the career they want.

A recent whitepaper from Central New Mexico Community College, IBM, Western Governors University, Randa, Public Consulting Group, and Solutions for Information Design lays out recommendations to create a successful national LER ecosystem. Several of the contributors are 1EdTech members, and if you have the time, it’s worth a read, but here are my takeaways on how 1EdTech can help you get started with digital credentials and begin creating a national LER ecosystem.

1EdTech, our members, and partner organizations are already working on several of these recommendations. So, while it may feel overwhelming, starting your digital credential program from scratch is no longer necessary. Rather, a large community is ready and willing to help get you where you need to be, so you can help us make the dream of a national system a reality.

Breaking Down the Recommendations

So why are these steps so important? Let’s take it one at a time.

First, creating LER standards to meet the needs of the job market.

As the job market and the needs of employers evolve, so does the need for workers to reskill and upskill throughout their careers. Not everyone can return to school whenever a career change is needed. Instead, employers need a system that connects them to people with specific skills earned in various ways.

That system needs to be equitable and efficient to work, and that is where standards come in. The standards help make any credential work in any system. I like to use electrical outlets as an example. You can plug any lamp (credentials) into an electrical outlet (hiring system) and trust it will work because both the lamp and outlet are built to specific standards that ensure they will work together. It doesn’t matter if the lamp is tall, short, bright, changes colors, has a shade, or is a bare bulb, it will work in any outlet because it meets standards. All you have to do is pick the lamp you like and plug it in. That’s what standards do for credentials, you pick the ones you want, plug them into the system, and you can see what each applicant brings to the table without worrying if the format their credentials are in will work.

This does require all stakeholders to agree on one set of standards, which is why 1EdTech looks to partner with and align standards with other organizations, including aligning the latest Open Badge and CLR standards with W3C. This helps ensure we are all moving forward together. 

Second, create a technical infrastructure that provides shared identity/trust and skill/credential services.

Seeing what skills a person has is one thing, but knowing what those various credentials and accomplishments mean is something entirely different. 1EdTech’s Comprehensive Learner Record (CLR) standard can help with that too.

The study points out that the increasing diversity of job classifications and new job categories make a national LER system even more important. Employers are looking for individuals with specific skills, and they need to understand what each degree or credential means because they can mean completely different things depending on how a person earned them.

1EdTech’s Open Badges and CASE standards help serve as a type of decoder ring, providing context and data for each credential so the person reading them can verify the skills match what they need and that the credential comes from a trusted source.

This is important because currently, credentials are shared by the institution or company that issues them. So while they are trustworthy, the person who earned them can’t necessarily control or share them. Open Badges and CLR give the earner agency over their own credentials while also providing verification of validity.

Third, integrate talent marketplace provider offerings with the LER infrastructure.

Once you have the credentials, HR professionals and academic institutions must be able and willing to use them. 1EdTech’s Wellspring Project is focused on bringing institutions and employers together to drive the use of digital credentials and automate matching credentials with educational and employment opportunities. We also help facilitate conversations between educators and employers to ensure that what is taught in the classroom matches the skills needed to find a job.

To help move this forward, we recently partnered with the HR Open Standards Consortium to match digital credential standards with resume standards, making them easier for employers to access and use.

Fourth, invest in regional LER projects.

This isn’t something 1EdTech can do directly, but our contributions to the first three recommendations allow our members and organizational partners to take this need and run with it. The white paper mentions several case studies of their partners and 1EdTech members creating valuable and verifiable digital credentials in their local ecosystems. You can find more examples on 1EdTech’s Achievement, Opportunity, and Employment Imperative web page. These organizations are leading the way in creating a national LER ecosystem by proving it can work on a smaller scale.

The fifth and sixth requirements are creating legal and regulatory terms and creating an organization that certifies LER technologies and applications.

These are beyond 1EdTech’s purview, but we continue to partner and work alongside groups taking on these important issues to ensure the standards support and evolve along with the needs of learners, employers, institutions, and industries.

It’s a collaborative effort, one that is close to 1EdTech and our members. We are collaborating to create an open, trusted, and innovative ecosystem that works to benefit all. That’s what we do here. We join forces and find solutions together because we know that for this to succeed, it needs to work for everyone.

 

About the Author
Kelly Hoyland serves as the program manager for higher education at 1EdTech, where she works with members to meet the challenges they face in the rapidly growing and evolving digital teaching and learning landscape. This includes working across K-12, higher education, and corporate education to make life achievements more accessible, personalized and equitable from the start for every learner. 

 

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1EdTech Chief Architect Dr. Colin Smythe1EdTECH TALK

Contributed by Dr. Colin Smythe, 1EdTech Chief Architect

 

OneRoster® 1.2: Final Release Publication of the Latest Version of the 1EdTech Rostering, Resources & Gradebook Standards

In September 2022, 1EdTech published the OneRoster 1.2 standard. OneRoster is designed to support three use-cases:

  • Rostering of students in classes;
  • Rostering of users for access to learning resources;
  • Reporting of gradebook information.

 

BACKGROUND

We published OneRoster 1.0 in June 2015. This release focused on the exchange of rostering, Enrollments, of Users (Teachers and Students) in Classes at Schools but included a limited capability to exchange gradebook data. Even in this first release, there was support for both a REST-based API and CSV-based file exchange. OneRoster 1.0 was an immediate success and, typical of such success, a long list of limitations was identified, so work on version 1.1 was started.

Version 1.1, published in April 2017, included a substantial set of new features:

  • Extending the data model for the description of a User;

  • Support for identifying the set of Resources that need to be made available for a specific Class and/or Course;

  • Providing a data creation and deletion capability for the gradebook information, i.e., the Category, LineItem, and Result;

  • Adding the optional usage of OAuth 2 for the REST API binding definition.

We began work on OneRoster 1.2 in April 2017. The primary drivers for the new features were to:

  • Allow a User to have multiple Roles in more than one Organization;

  • Enable the identification of the set of Resources to be made available to a specific User;

  • Enable, for the Gradebook, the exchange of Score Scales, the mapping of results to the corresponding set of learning standards, and support detailed results reporting;

  • Provide a richer set of Gradebook Service endpoints to enable a Consumer to write information (push) into a Provider;

  • Break the REST-API specification into its three service components of rostering, resources, and gradebook, to simplify the adoption of part of the OneRoster specification.

 

Unusual for 1EdTech, the OneRoster specification consists of two information exchange (binding) approaches, CSV and REST API.

CSV-based exchange uses a zipped file of the set of CSV files. In OneRoster 1.0, the interoperability consisted of just seven CSV files and 38 REST endpoints; in OneRoster 1.1, this became 14 CSV files and 61 REST endpoints; for OneRoster 1.2, it is 22 CSV files and 81 REST endpoints.

For CSV file exchange, there are two approaches:

  • Bulk – the exchange of a complete data set, i.e., one that is semantically complete. This is to be interpreted as the creation of a OneRoster data-set or a destructive overwrite of the previously stored data-set;

  • Delta – the exchange of ONLY those data records that have changed since the previous exchange.

The expected behavior for CSV-based systems is initialization using Bulk exchange followed by a sequence of Delta update exchanges. The specification is silent on how the CSV files are exchanged. For the REST-API definitions, three sets of OpenAPI and JSON Schema files are supplied to simplify the creation and validation of Provider and Consumer implementations.

Other changes that have been made as the specification has evolved are:

  • Whereas the use of OAuth 1.0a message signing was required in OneRoster 1.0, OAuth 2.0 Bearer Token (Client Credentials) is required in OneRoster 1.1 and 1.2. In July 2021, support for OneRoster 1.0 was deprecated. Therefore, only OneRoster 1.1 and 1.2 are available for adoption and certification.

  • More extension features have been introduced to improve internationalization and localization (identified by the use of OneRoster in Japan and Norway). For example, in OneRoster 1.2, most of the enumerated vocabularies may be extended.

  • In OneRoster 1.0, only pull REST endpoints were permitted but in OneRoster 1.1 and 1.2, support for pull and push REST endpoints was introduced for the Gradebook Service.

Splitting the REST-API solution into three distinct services has increased the range of available certifications. The set of certifications now available are:

  • CSV Import and CSV Export. All certifications must support the exchange of Bulk-Rostering exchange. Support for Bulk-Resources and Bulk Gradebook exchange is optional. Support for Delta-Rostering, Delta-Resources, and Delta-Gradebook exchange is asl optional. A OneRoster CSV Validator for export certification and a set of OneRoster Reference Test Set Files for import certification are available to 1EdTech members.

  • REST API Provider or REST API Consumer. At least one of the following services must be supported: Rostering, Resources, Gradebook, Assessment Results. For each of these services, there is a minimum number of endpoints that MUST be supported, support of the others being optional. Separate Provider Certification and Consumer Certification conformance test systems are available to 1EdTech members.

This creates many possible certifications that can be awarded to a product. Therefore, two OneRoster-certified products are NOT guaranteed to be interoperable. You must read and compare the accompanying certification descriptions to understand the degree of interoperability.

 

ONEROSTER IN THE 1EDTECH ECOSYSTEM

OneRoster is a key component in many 1EdTech Ecosystems. The relationships between OneRoster and other 1EdTech standards are:

  • Learning Tools Interoperability® (LTI®) Advantage – The LTI Names & Roles Provisioning Services and Assignment and Grade Services extensions have overlapping functionality with OneRoster. However, these LTI and OneRoster services complement each other—LTI handles real-time interactions with an LTI-enabled tool/app and OneRoster supports the data initialization and archiving between another system and an LTI-enabled platform.

  • Competencies & Academic Standards Exchange® (CASE®) – The CASE Globally Unique Identifiers contained in the descriptions of the Resources to be made available to a Class, Course and/or User are used to identify the set of competencies and academic standards applied to that resource.

  • Question & Test Interoperability® (QTI®) – The overlap is between the QTI Results Reporting part of the QTI specification and the Assessment Results part of the OneRoster Gradebook Services. The latter enables QTI Results Reporting level of detail to report to a Student Information System, enabling more detailed results reporting in a gradebook.

  • Common Cartridge® and Thin Common Cartridge – The vendorResourceId property for a Resource can be used to map to the equivalent resource being exchanged in a Common Cartridge and/or Thin Common Cartridge. It should be noted that this requires the appropriate content identification planning and management by the vendor.

  • Edu-API – At present, this specification work is focused on creating a OneRoster equivalent for use in higher education. The data model for Users, Classes, Courses, and Enrollments is considerably more complex in higher education, so the simple adoption of OneRoster is not possible.

 

GLOBAL ADOPTION

The original OneRoster 1.0 version was designed to support K-12 districts/schools rostering in North America.

OneRoster 1.2 has been designed for use around the world. Work in Japan and Norway is already underway on the Profiling of OneRoster 1.2 to fit the specific needs of their K-12 education systems. A 1EdTech specification is defined to support a wide range of teaching and learning workflows and processes. It enables practice.

Profiling is the process by which a base specification is modified to enforce best practices specific to an education sector and/or geographic location. The advantage of profiling is that the corresponding modified conformance and certification systems and processes are created such that a product can be certified with respect to a Profile, thereby significantly improving, perhaps guaranteeing, interoperability.

 

WHAT'S NEXT

After working for more than seven years on creating and developing the OneRoster specification, it is time to focus on supporting broader adoption.

The 1EdTech member community has no plans to work on a OneRoster 1.3 version. It is more likely that any new version will be defined as a formal Profile of the Edu-API specification, but even this is many years away.

 

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Kim Moore, Executive Director of Workforce, Professional and Community Education, Wichita State University1EdTech Member Stories

Contributed by:

Kim Moore, JD, Executive Director of Workforce, Professional and Community Education, Wichita State University

 

Aligning Academic Outcomes with Employer Needs

Like many higher education institutions, Wichita State University is always looking for a way to improve our students' experiences and future successes. One area we've seen great success in is our badges program, a way to meet the needs of our students and our community.

Developing the Badges

After nearly eight years of innovating and developing digital credentials and badges for Wichita State University, I am constantly contacted by other universities wanting to start their own program. The best advice I can give them is not to start where I started. Instead, jump ahead to where we are now, working in partnership with all stakeholders to ensure your final product has real value in the workforce. 

At WSU, we started our badging program with the idea of supporting employers by providing learners with credentials that would assist in hiring and retaining employees. The program was successful, and I was eventually introduced to 1EdTech through that work. Although we were already presenting, and in many areas, leading this type of work, there is always more to learn.

Going Deeper with Wellspring

When the Wellspring Initiative started, I had a project in mind that I knew would be a great fit. We knew that the state of Kansas had a high need for direct support professionals who work with and serve as caregivers for people with intellectual or behavioral disabilities in professional and personal settings. 

Part of the problem is that this work is similar to CNAs but without any credentials, incentives, or professional development. That lack of support led to dissatisfaction, significant turnover, and a long wait for services for the people who depend on them.

We had a curriculum we were ready to use—modeled after one in Ohio—with just a few adjustments to meet the specific needs in Kansas. It created pathways not just for people already in the field but also opportunities for high school students to get the certification before they graduated. 

The Wellspring Initiative helped us take the program to a new level by bringing in more thought partners, employers, and human resource professionals. This was the first time in my years working with digital credentials that we had such an introspective team that brought so many different points of view. 

The Biggest Surprise

One of the final steps was to bring in not just employers but the HR professionals involved in hiring these positions to ensure our skills and competencies aligned with what they were looking for in a new hire. It was this step that brought one of the biggest surprises. 

Although we had looked at job descriptions and compared our curriculum to the skills required in the postings, we learned that they still didn't match what the hiring managers were looking for. In fact, even the HR professionals were surprised to realize that they weren't asking for what they wanted. 

The Wellspring Initiative helped us begin work on systemic changes to meet the needs of our community, and the improvements it promises are only starting to be realized. 

The Future

This broader perspective and collaboration gave our digital credentials real value because they are truly matched with the needs of the industry.

Working through these partnerships and being able to prove the value of our credentials opened even more possibilities and opportunities for our student's success: 

  • After launching the first two of eight badges in our direct support professionals series, one of our partners started a registered apprenticeship program to provide our students with the applied learning needed for the last six badges. At the same time, we were able to provide the academic credit the employers needed to receive federal aid for the project. 

  • The state is also offering higher reimbursement rates for providers to increase this type of professional development and offer higher wages for direct support professionals. 

  • After looking at the skills earned in the first two "core" badges, employers in the eldercare industry want to work with us on building a second pathway from those skill sets. 

  • We are working to develop the badges into a nationally recognized credential, similar to a CNA, to help address these employee shortages nationwide. 

In the end, it's a win-win-win. We can improve the experience and success of our students with meaningful credentials, our partners fill vacancies that are left open for far too long, and our community gets the services it needs.

 

About the Author
Kimberly Moore, JD, is the Executive Director for WPCE at Wichita State University. She has 35 years of experience in developing and coordinating workforce and professional development programming. A former state government administrator and corporate lobbyist, Kim served as Associate Director of the WSU Division of Continuing Education from 1996–2014. In October 2014, she was appointed Interim Director and served in that capacity until March 2015, when she was appointed Director of WPCE. She was promoted to Executive Director in June 2021. Kimberly received her bachelor's and Juris Doctor degrees from Washburn University, Topeka, Kansas.

 

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1EdTech Leaders Blog | July 2022Sonia Gupta, Associate Director of Marketing, Magic EdTech

Contributed by:

Sonia Gupta, Associate Director - Marketing, Magic EdTech

 

 

How Open Digital Ecosystems Enable Transformative Solutions in Education

Transitioning to a digital learning ecosystem has unlocked abundant innovative opportunities for students, educational institutions, and educational publishers. The traditional model of learning has its own set of benefits and challenges. However, blending it with digital tools has enabled access to huge volumes of data that can be used to make data-driven decisions for innovation in teaching methods, curriculum design, and learning experiences.

One of the most important legs of a digital learning ecosystem is 1EdTech's Learning Tools Interoperability® or LTI® standard. It works as a single framework that enables the integration of any Learning Management System (LMS) with any learning application. This empowers educators and students to quickly yet safely navigate the digital ecosystem and ease education delivery.

A Single Platform to Ease Innovation

Enabling interoperability could have proven to be an almost insurmountable challenge had it not been for the innovative solutions offered by digital learning platforms. Such a platform offers three key functions to ensure a seamless digital ecosystem for education:

  1. Content and Activity Management
    A digital learning platform can allow for student-content interactions through creating and delivering lessons, additional learning resources, multimedia assets, and assessments. It ensures quick creation, deployment, grading, and tracking of assessments. Further, educators are empowered to offer individualized, data-driven support to students for enhanced academic outcomes.

  2. Engagement Management
    Student-faculty and student-student interactions are enabled with the help of collaboration tools, such as message or discussion boards, chats, and video conferencing. For instance, single-sign-on (SSO) is enabled via integration with third-party systems, such as Clever. Plus, there is flexibility for custom integrations. 

  3. Learning Management
    The digital learning platform should support the management of rosters, grades, analytics, and outcomes reporting. Publishers can create curriculum-aligned assignments, while educators can save a huge amount of time in deploying and grading these assignments. Students have the facility to complete assignments asynchronously and receive personalized feedback. With this, educators can offer immediate feedback, create personalized learning paths, and maximize academic outcomes.

An open digital learning platform offers multiple advantages, including adaptability, data cohesion, and increased growth. These benefits present themselves in the digital ecosystem through:

  • Streamlined User Experience for Students: It can streamline enrollment into learning apps and automatically sync students’ grades to the grade book of record in the digital learning platform. 

  • Easy Data Extraction and Analysis for Educators: It gives more control to educators. They can integrate third-party resources, applications, and tools on the platform at any time and gain more in-depth and reliable insights from the data. Students can also rest assured that their assignments and grades will automatically sync. In addition, they can receive immediate feedback to identify strengths and weaknesses and guide learning.

  • Simplified Support Services: It aids in integrating the school’s existing ecosystem with multiple other systems and tools. However, students need to sign in to only one system to access the entire gamut of resources. 

  • Minimal Data Security Concerns: Compliance with the latest security model adopted by 1EdTech, based on industry best practices, ensures optimal user privacy and security. It not only protects sensitive data but also improves consistency between 1EdTech standards while enabling enhanced support for mobile implementations.

  • Ease of Procurement: It helps improve the digital learning ecosystem by making it more intuitive for educators. They get easy and real-time access to data to individually guide students in the right direction to maximize academic outcomes.

The LTI Standard and Why It Works

The 1EdTech LTI standard plays a vital role in quickly and securely connecting learning apps and tools with learning management systems on-site or in the cloud.

LTI has been a crucial part of the evolution of the digital learning ecosystem. Not only does it establish a secure connection and confirm the tool’s authenticity, but its extensions can also be used to add several features, such as facilitating the exchange of assignments and results between an assessment tool and the school’s LMS-based grade book.

The level of integration on the digital learning platform will depend on the version of LTI being used and the compliance of the learning app. With the right fit, users can access digital learning resources, apps, and tools within any LMS with a one-click, seamless connection.

Driving Innovation

LTI is helping to shape the new learning environment in several ways:

Strengthening the Teaching Approach

LTI-compliant digital learning platforms have enabled educational publishers and educators to focus more effectively on students’ learning outcomes. They can develop courseware, software, and web services at an institution and make them available for prompt use elsewhere. Students can access learning resources on multiple devices and platforms from anywhere and at any time.

Creating More Space for Personalized Learning

Under the personalized learning model, students benefit from learning at their own pace and preferred style while reducing learning gaps. COVID-19 has severely disrupted academic progress and worsened the longstanding disparities in educational outcomes between white students and students of color. But, the increasing use of digital learning tools has played a crucial role in ensuring inclusivity for students from all backgrounds and modifying the learning process to cater to their individual needs.

Improving Assessment Efficacy

Every educator understands the importance of tracking student progress. LTI allows them to deliver easy-to-administer formative, summative, adaptive, and standards-based assessments to evaluate the current academic level of each student. Thus, educators can ensure that the needs of students are properly catered to and necessary interventions are deployed at the right time.

Promoting Inclusivity

Ensuring digital equity has always been a big challenge for the education industry. It is estimated that nearly 35% of households in the United States with school-age children and an annual income of below $30,000 do not have access to high-speed internet. Students cannot be brought at par with learning if such disparity exists in access to learning resources. They are in dire need of access to authentic learning resources.

With the recent influx of federal dollars in the American Rescue Plan, more students will finally come online. And LTI will give them the advantage of accessing these resources on different platforms, even offline, once they are downloaded.

Transitioning to Outcome-based Education (OBE) and Competency-Based Education (CBE)

A robust LTI-compliant digital learning platform has proven immensely helpful in supporting OBE and CBE. For instance, educators have used these platforms to create adaptive assessments and offer detailed and actionable feedback on student performance on specific skills. It has helped them identify students’ strong and weak areas and empower them with practical skills.

Interoperability gives everyone in the industry access to a scalable ecosystem that can bring all the benefits of digital tools on a single platform. Educators, publishers, parents, and students, all stand to gain much from data interoperability to take education into the future.

 

About the Author
Sonia heads marketing for MagicBox, a SaaS platform by Magic EdTech that serves more than 6M users globally. Magic EdTech is a 1EdTech Contributing Member.

 

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Sean DeMonner, Executive Director of Teaching & Learning, University of Michigan1EdTech Member Stories

Contributed by:

Sean DeMonner, Executive Director of Teaching & Learning, University of Michigan

 

Supporting Innovation in Teaching and Learning Through Standards

The University of Michigan faculty are among the best in their disciplines, and the students they attract are likewise extremely high achievers. It stands to reason, therefore, that the U-M community expects the digital teaching and learning environment to be similarly world-class.

As academic technologists, we need to be responsive, adaptive, and well-versed in the latest developments in technology-enabled scholarship, all of which can be challenging, particularly at scale. We attempt to meet these high expectations by using technical standards like Learning Tools Interoperability® (LTI®) and Caliper Analytics® to ensure fast and efficient interoperability.

LTI is the industry standard for application integration, and Caliper is for learning event data collection and aggregation. Both standards are critical to effectively running a modern digital learning environment that supports innovation and data-informed decision-making via learning analytics at scale.

Supporting Pedagogical Exploration

For various reasons, it is important to say “yes” when faculty requests to integrate a new digital tool they are evaluating. When the tool in question is compliant, or better yet certified, with the relevant standard, we can quickly and confidently respond affirmatively to faculty who want to explore new teaching and learning capabilities.

Sometimes those explorations do not result in the outcomes the faculty member is looking for, and we can quickly move on to evaluating other options. But, if the evaluation is successful, we can deploy the tool widely with the confidence that a standards-based integration will improve over time as our digital learning environment evolves.

This rapid-evaluation, iterative cycle leads to a more innovative teaching and learning environment and results from the low-friction integration process that technical standards facilitate.

Creating New Opportunities Within and Beyond the Institution

In addition to facilitating pedagogical innovation through the rapid evaluation of new tools, technical interoperability standards help ensure that the tools we develop in-house are more robust and easily adoptable by local and external audiences (like other institutions).

Over the past several years, a number of groups at the University of Michigan have adopted LTI and Caliper standards to ensure their work is robust and easily integrated. In addition to Information and Technology Services-built tools like My Learning Analytics (MyLA), the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering, University Library, Center for Academic Innovation, and several faculty-led research projects have all leveraged the power of LTI and Caliper to expand the value and audience of their work.

Because we have built up institutional expertise with these standards, it is not uncommon for us to provide consultative support for students and other entrepreneurs in our community who are building edtech tools. Of course, it is also great to be able to point these folks to the relevant 1EdTech documentation and working groups when their consultative needs exceed our capacity.

Sean DeMonner is responsible for enterprise academic technology and directs the ITS Teaching and Learning team at the University of Michigan, a 1EdTech Contributing Member since 2000.

 

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Daniel Ralyea, Director of the Office of Research and Data Analysis, South Carolina Department of Education1EdTech Member Stories

Contributed by:

Daniel Ralyea, Director of the Office of Research and Data Analysis, South Carolina Department of Education

 

South Carolina Prioritizes Student Data Privacy and Equitable Access to Resources

As a state department of education, part of our mission is to find efficient ways to support the diverse needs of our unique districts, schools, and students. To do that, we look for solutions we can tailor for our districts without adding to the already heavy workload of educators.

Identifying secure resources

One of the challenges districts across the country face is finding secure resources that benefit teaching and learning while protecting student data privacy.

The size of their district should not determine a student’s online security. While large districts may have multiple trained personnel to vet and implement different educational tools, smaller districts may only have a few, or sometimes only one IT person. That employee may have their hands full with technical support and still be burdened with reading contracts and legal procurement procedures for the use of applications.

Add to that the teachers Googling curriculum materials to supplement their lessons, and the quality of education a student receives becomes dependent on an educator’s technical skills rather than their teaching abilities.

These practices were not equitable or sustainable as digital learning became more and more prevalent in our schools.

Leveling the playing field

To help level the playing field for our students, educators, and staff, South Carolina’s Department of Education acquired 1EdTech memberships for 82 Local Education Agencies (public school districts, state schools, and charter districts).

The primary goals of the memberships are to:

  • Support technology initiatives as the districts moved to the digital space

  • Integrate platforms and tools to help make it easier for teachers to access high-quality resources regardless of technical knowledge

  • Vet applications, so educators, students, and families are aware of a tool’s privacy rating based on the 1EdTech data privacy rubric

  • Help ensure an overall secure digital experience

This allows us to have a minimum expectation for the quality and security of resources for all students in South Carolina.

I also take heart knowing that people working in education, including K-12, created the vetting rubric. They know what is important when it comes to student privacy and security, so we know they are accounting for the same concerns we have.

Making a difference

As more of our districts sign on and take advantage of these resources, we hear stories about how it makes a difference.

1EdTech has more than 7,000 (and counting) applications vetted for student data privacy. Without much extra work, our districts can review and compare the various resources available to them.

As soon as a district activates its membership, the administration can start building a curated list of approved applications for use in classrooms. If an educator has a tool in mind, there is transparency to the application’s privacy policies and rubric results.

It’s an effective and efficient way to improve choice and provide equitable resources to our students now and into the future.

 

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1EdTech Chief Architect Dr. Colin Smythe1EdTECH TALK

Contributed by Dr. Colin Smythe, 1EdTech Chief Architect

 

Finally Final: The QTI 3.0 Release

After more than seven years of development, we've published version 3 of the 1EdTech Question & Test Interoperability® (QTI®) specification. The QTI standard defines a structure for exchanging tests and questions to enable the authoring, distribution, and delivery of online assessments. In January 2015, we began work on the Charter for QTI 3.0, and in May that year, the Charter was authorized by the Technical Advisory Board. Finally, in May 2022, the core Assessment, Section & Item (ASI) features were completed and published as a Final Release specification. Why, in January 2015, after more than 15 years of development and a successful QTI 2.2 release, was it deemed necessary by the 1EdTech membership to create yet another new version? Feedback from our members identified three primary reasons:

  • QTI 2.2 was too complex, particularly in the handling of alternative content definitions for the various accessibility use-cases

  • Small but backward-incompatible changes were needed to the content model to support more of HTML5, to prepare for rendering using Web Component approaches, and to enable native delivery of the QTI Exchange Markup Language (XML) instances

  • New best practice defined layout control was needed to enable clear interoperability of that layout (essential for high-stakes oriented assessment)

We also realized that these changes would significantly improve the suitability and ease of adoption for QTI in non-high-stakes-based assessment/quizzing, thereby establishing a much greater opportunity for adoption of QTI.

The key changes in QTI 3.0 are:

  1. Support for transform-free authoring-to-delivery

  2. Reworking of the accessibility features introduced in previous versions of QTI and the Accessible Portable Item Protocol (APIP) 1.0

  3. Enrichment of the HTML-based content model to include more HTML5, Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA), and Cascading Stylesheet (CSS) features

  4. Simplification of the structure of the XML-based QTI-instances and adoption of a Web-Component friendly naming convention

  5. Definition of an extensive set of layout controls using CSS-based approaches

Together, all of these features create a non-backward compatible version, but we have been able to develop a simple migration path from QTI 2.x to 3.0 (more of this later).

The documents and artifacts released as part of the QTI 3.0 Final Release are:

  • Overview document (this explains how the document set fits together and guides the reader on how to use the rest of the documentation set)

  • Terms & Definitions document

  • Conformance & Certification document (formal definition of what an implementation must demonstrate to prove compliance with the specification)

  • Beginner's Guide document (a short introduction to creating QTI packages)

  • APIP to QTI 3.0 Migration document

  • Best Practice & Implementation Guide document (an extensive set of examples and the first document software developer should read)

  • Metadata Specification document (a single standalone document that defines and describes QTI-specific metadata and how it is used in QTI Packages)

  • Assessment, Section & Item Information Model document (only of interest to those who want a non-XML based formal description of the specification)

  • Assessment, Section & Item XML Binding document (software developers should use this as the formal reference manual)

  • The set of XML Schema Definition (XSD) files (these are also used in the 1EdTech Online validator)

  • An extensive set of examples of QTI Packages and Response Processing Template files

Newcomers to QTI should read the Beginner's Guide document. This introduces the key concepts of QTI Items, QTI Sections, QTI Tests, and QTI Packages with some simple examples. It includes the creation of a multiple-choice question: the "Hello World" example for QTI. The next step is to read the new Best Practice & Implementation Guide. While this is a lengthy document, it is well structured with a substantial set of clearly explained examples. All the examples are available as downloadable QTI Packages—they are a great starting point for creating your own QTI instances.

While QTI 3.0 is not backward compatible with QTI 2.x, migrating to 3.0 is not difficult. All the examples described in the QTI 2.x best practice documents and examples are covered with their equivalents in the 3.0 documentation. Much of the migration can be automated: our Contributing Member, ETS, has developed an XSLT-based simple migration tool, which is available for our Members in the GitHub Repo: https://github.com/IMSGlobal/qti3p0upgrader. This tool is NOT formally supported, nor is it fully featured. Instead, it is a starting point for migrating from QTI 2.x to 3.0.

Certification of compliant products is essential to the 1EdTech specification support process. We use a proprietary online XML validator for certification. Unlimited access to this validator is available to all members, and many extensively use this benefit as part of their content development validation process. The core QTI ASI XML Schema Definition (XSD) is 35,000 lines. All of the QTI XSDs (eight are used to validate a QTI Package) are available to the public as part of the Final Release documentation and are also available through our PURL server (https://purl/www.imsglobal.org/spec/qti/v3p0/schema/xsd/). Details for Certification are provided in the Conformance & Certification document.

My last blog covered the broader Digital Assessment in 1EdTech Ecosystems landscape. QTI is just one crucial part of this landscape. Now that the ASI component has been published, the next steps for QTI 3.0 are the completion and publication of:

  • QTI 3.0 Results Reporting

  • QTI 3.0 Usage Data & Item Statistics

  • Portable Custom Interaction (PCI) 1.0 – the definition of a JavaScript API that is used to connect proprietary Items, also commonly known as Technology Enhanced Items (TEIs), with a QTI-compliant assessment. This enables the set of predefined QTI interaction sets to be extended.

If you want to learn more about QTI, join us in Nashville from 13-16 June at Learning Impact 2022. We have several assessment activities, including a QTI Bootcamp/Hackathon, several presentations on various QTI and QTI-related specifications, and a Specification Surgery where you can have one-on-one sessions with the 1EdTech technical team. It is an excellent opportunity to meet the QTI experts. Hopefully, I'll see you in Nashville.

 

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Header for Learning Impact blog (May 2022) with Rob Abel's photo and title: We are 1EdTech. What About EdTech Inspires You?

In this post, during the run-up to Learning Impact 2022, June 13-16 in Nashville, I’d like to take the opportunity to summarize the 1EdTech brand and the 1EdTech community with a single word: Inspired. 1EdTech is both an inspired and, we hope, inspirational brand.

But first things first. 1EdTech. We have arrived! We have officially moved to the 1EdTech brand as the outward-facing brand!   

Now let’s review.

With this information as the backdrop, my more than 16 years leading the organization, and our growth to 750 organizations (we’re now adding about 90-100 new members a year), I believe it all comes down to what is at the heart of why we have given so much to this cause: Inspiration.

I came to this position with a very simple inspiration about the need for edtech stakeholder organizations to collaborate in a way that would help accelerate the progress in this relatively new field. For me, it has been a puzzle to bring together market forces to accelerate technology that enhances educational leadership. Improving learning is the challenge that underlies all other challenges humankind faces. A very powerful and sustainable collaboration was my goal from the beginning, but I also had to be realistic about the possibilities. Indeed, the organization is now about 4x larger than I once estimated this community would get (at one of our Board meetings in the early years).  

Right now, I feel that the potential for this community—built on the idea of a committed collaboration providing the foundations for an open, innovative, and trusted edtech ecosystem—is endless. Together there are no limits to what we can do.

But what keeps us together will be our mutual and complementary inspirations. Only by being inspired for a greater good with tangible outcomes can we face the challenges of each day and the long road ahead.

What inspires us as a community today? Our impact on learning and education has been enormous. We are now capturing those inspirations, aspirations, and impacts using the stories that 1EdTech members have brought us to share as part of this rebranding. We have only just begun, but let me point out a few:

1EdTech image collage of four leadership imperatives

We are inspired...

...when faculty and learners find that technology makes their hectic lives more efficient and opens new possibilities for how they want to teach or what they want to learn. From an institutional perspective, we are inspired when technology better supports academic goals and strategy. Here are some examples that may inspire you.

We are inspired...

...when we can provide faculty, learners, and administrators a foundation for innovative instructional models, personalized learning, and diverse pathways that open up new educational possibilities. From an institutional perspective, we are inspired when we have ensured maximum choice, inclusion, and sustained support for innovation. Here are some examples that may inspire you.

We are inspired...

...when we help all students achieve more during their educational experiences and when those achievements open opportunities for fulfilling careers (as most learners have multiple careers) and life. From an institutional perspective, we are inspired by setting up the foundation for enabling an expanded set of verifiable achievements and records that learners can manage, add distinction to the institution, and employers can use for hiring and talent development. Here are some examples that may inspire you.

We are inspired...

...when faculty, learners, advisors, and administrators can get timely insights that help improve the trajectory of success for students and faculty. From an institutional perspective, we are inspired by establishing a foundation for a learning data ecosystem that makes data availability and use easier for all our stakeholders. Here are some examples that may inspire you.

 

We hope you will join us at Learning Impact 2022 in Nashville, June 13-16, to share what inspires you and our very unique community!

 

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Sketch: student data privacy (May 2022)

Contributed by Kevin Lewis and Dr. Tim Clark

 

Think About IT! Seven Reflections on Student Data Privacy

  • With the continual influx of digital applications available to support teaching and learning experiences in various contexts and at all levels, educators have to be committed to providing a safe environment that protects students.

  • One aspect of that protection is ensuring student data privacy when using those applications.

  • It’s challenging to balance the freedom of teachers to select the best digital resource to engage student learning while simultaneously protecting student data.

 

Here are seven thoughts and suggestions on student data privacy you need to think about.

1 All personal information should be protected.

The Department of Homeland Security defines personally identifiable information (PII) as any information that permits the identity of an individual to be directly or indirectly inferred, including any information that is linked or linkable to that individual. All information about students should be protected. That includes general PII, such as a first name, age, etc, as well as Sensitive PII, such as a social security number, driver’s license number, etc. Remember that even general personal information about a student can be grouped by an application to start building a profile, so the collection of data points can reveal a lot about the user.

 

2 Students don’t naturally care about protecting their own data.

If students see a link or an application, they will want to access it. Devices and applications that harvest student data are designed to be appealing and user-friendly. Data privacy has to be taught and encouraged. Think about a young child crossing the street. Parents have to teach the child about the potential dangers and the steps to use to stay safe. Teachers often have to assume responsibility for what the students are sharing and their applications in the classroom. Districts can assist by ensuring that a process is in place to help teachers with this responsibility.

 

3 Parents should be engaged in the process of protecting student data.

Parents may be unaware of the strategies necessary to help protect student data privacy. Parents usually put their trust in the teacher. If the teacher recommends an application for student use, the parents will assume that it is safe. Districts and schools need to include training and communication for parents in student data privacy just as they support other initiatives related to student learning. Likewise, parents may be a good resource for schools when addressing student data privacy concerns, as many may have experiences and expertise that can be shared among the school community.

 

4 Just because an application appears to have an educational use doesn’t mean that it’s safe.

Teachers may experience a false sense of security when an application promotes that it’s for educational purposes, like teaching the alphabet, for example. Also, if another teacher recommends an application or if it’s marketed at a conference, it can appear safer than it really is. There’s an assumption that a standard is in place for branding something like an educational application. Look at its target audience, the information requested, and the amount of advertising, and approach the use of all applications with caution.

 

5 Free is never really free.

An application may seem to be a bargain when it is advertised as free, but it’s free at a cost. At a minimum, It may be harvesting personal information to use to target advertising to users. Furthermore, it may be using a technique called behavioral advertising, whereby it follows users and tracks their browsing trends across the Internet and retains their demographics and behaviors.

 

6 Educators must speak up about what they need regarding data privacy.

Legitimate suppliers of educational technology applications don’t know what they don’t know. Including them on a private list of banned applications doesn’t help those suppliers to make the necessary changes to better protect student learning. When application providers are genuinely dedicated to improving student learning, they also want to provide safe learning experiences. Schools and districts need to ensure that their suppliers know the requirements for ensuring student data privacy.

 

7 Data privacy isn’t just for students.

A culture of data privacy needs to be proactively developed and practiced by everyone in a learning environment. Think about data privacy as an umbrella, covered by federal laws to provide structure and guidance, which are supported by states and educational agencies that also provide additional support. Districts can assist their schools and teachers with policies, processes, and programs for vetting and approving applications. Finally, teachers need to research and evaluate the applications they use in their classrooms with their students. Everyone, at all levels, should learn and practice the skills necessary for protecting data privacy.

 

A Community Built Solution: TrustEd Apps

As a baseline for a district’s data privacy culture, 1EdTech (formerly known as IMS Global Consortium) assists member districts by vetting applications and certifying them for data privacy by utilizing a community-developed open rubric as part of its TrustEd Apps™ program and through the use of its TrustEd Apps dashboard.

To find out more information about TrustEd Apps, visit www.TrustEdApps.org. Join 1EdTech by visiting www.imsglobal.org/join and completing the online membership application.

 

Kevin Lewis, 1EdTechKevin Lewis is the Data Privacy Officer for1EdTech and facilitates its TrustEd Apps program
 

 

Tim Clark, 1EdTechDr. Tim Clark is the Vice President of K-12 Programs for 1EdTech

 

 

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