I want to extend huge thanks to the Ed-Fi team for a great first annual Technical Congress! This week, more than 60 people gathered in Austin to talk about Ed-Fi’s roadmap, release cycles and details relating to the entire Ed-Fi technology ecosystem. It was a fantastic couple days of collaboration and insight. 

Illuminate Education has been working in collaboration with the Ed-Fi Alliance for a few years and together we’re committed to finding better solutions to the data interoperability issues that face the education community today. We’ve been working on Ed-Fi solutions in various states with our student information system, data and assessment management system, and special education system. In 2016, I also had the opportunity to serve on the first Technical Advisory Group (TAG), and providing a voice on the TAG and knowing that the views and opinions of the community matter has been very refreshing.

The Technical Congress was filled with a diverse range of people from ed-tech vendors to LEAs and SEAs – all with varying opinions on solutions, but all with the same common goal: interoperability. The collaborative dialogue was inspiring and it was reassuring to know that everyone is working together towards one outcome.

A few of my top takeaways from the meetings were:

  • Collaboration: As noted above, it was great to have an informed and dedicated group of participants come together to talk about the issues at hand. In particular, the round table discussions on the more technical proposals for upcoming changes to the Ed-Fi data model were amazing.  
  • Community365: The Ed-Fi team announced a new community hub for all Ed-Fi users, full of technical and communication tools to keep the spirit of the Technical Congress in motion.
  • Deep dive into technology: It’s not very often that you walk into a room of 60+ people excited about technical options for a data model as it relates to grades, transcripts, or school calendars! 

It’s been mentioned a few times, but really the best part of Technical Congress was the open and honest dialogue that took place among attendees. This type of collaboration around interoperability is crucial. It is the only way that we, as a community, will be able to create tools to impact teaching and learning.

Spending time “in the weeds” to work through technical details as a collaborative group was valuable and I think we can all agree that the work that the Ed-Fi Community is doing has been impressive and encouraging. The details matter and it is important to have technologists putting their heads together to solve these problems.

There’s a lot more work to be done as we all come together to improve interoperability. It’s exciting to see how much more work we can all do to continue to solve these problems and it is great to see Ed-Fi leading the way and bringing a community of collaborators with them.

Mark Walls, Chief Product Officer, Illuminate Education