Today’s release of an Ed-Fi technical preview marks a new era for Ed-Fi technology and our community.  This technical preview gives you an early-stage look at innovative field-based work – pioneered by the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) under the leadership of CIO Richard Charlesworth – that puts the power of transactional data processing to work for educators, families, and students.  That may sound a bit far-reaching for a technical preview of an operational data store (ODS) and accompanying application programming interface (API).  But here’s why.

Consistently Unique

These field-developed, production-tested components give education agencies and their vendors a foundational set of free components that are already developed – allowing agencies to focus their resources on customizing to the unique needs of their educators, families, and environment.  The Ed-Fi ODS 2.0 unifies and organizes existing data  in agency systems while the Ed-Fi ODS API 2.0 provides an efficient and near real-time way to update frequently changing data.  That powerful combination enables agencies to provide educators the most updated and meaningful information on students in a resource-efficient manner that can be sustained and improved over time.  This is all done within an agency’s own secure environment so that data management and security remain in the hands of agency officials.

Flexibly Compatible

Anchored by the widely adopted, global Ed-Fi Data Standard, the Ed-Fi ODS 2.0 and Ed-FI ODS API 2.0 are compatible with other Ed-Fi-enabled systems and applications as well as future components introduced by the Alliance.  This provides agencies the most extensive set of options when selecting new systems or replacing existing ones.  The cost of integration – a significant expense today – plummets because standardized data can promptly be available for use in applications and systems.  And the cost of maintaining compatibility – which benefits both vendors and agencies – is a shared responsibility; again returning resources to the agency.

Beneficial Community-wide

TDOE embraced the Ed-Fi technology vision from the start and was part of its public release in 2011.  In particular, the notion of ‘developing once and implementing many times’ resonated with Richard and his TDOE colleagues.  The Ed-Fi ODS 2.0 and accompanying API – developed earlier this year – have been contributed back to the Alliance as a way to ‘pay it forward’ to the Ed-Fi community.  This saves community members significant time and money while enabling the sharing of real-world implementation lessons to agencies on similar paths.

The Ed-Fi community continues to grow, to innovate, and to set a new standard for student-centric, flexible technology that serves educators, families and students.  Today’s technical preview marks the start of a new era.  We hope you’ll take a closer look and join us.