Call for Participation: Formation of an Ed-Fi Community Working Group focused on the future direction of the Ed-Fi Alliance’s investment in tools for analytics and visualizations. 

We are looking for passionate and energetic participants to form the core of a new Ed-Fi Community Working Group, which will propose the path forward for the Ed-Fi Alliance’s investments in tools for analytics and visualizations. If you are interested in participating in this working group, please send an email to chris.moffatt@ed-fi.org, and cc: governance@ed-fi.org. If you are interested in acting in a leadership role, send an email and mark it urgent! We plan to convene the working group and establish a charter as soon as we have a critical mass of committed participants. 

The origins and early success of the Ed-Fi vision and mission are deeply rooted in a free toolset for analytics and visualizations. In order to demonstrate the value of the Ed-Fi Data Standard, the Alliance and MSDF invested in successive releases of the Ed-Fi Dashboard.   This free toolset successfully showed the value of, and provided context around, what data could look like using Ed-Fi as the foundation.

In 2017, the Alliance commissioned research into the state of the dashboards, and the findings were presented at the 2017 Summit.

Some common themes that emerged from the findings were: 

  •  Most adopters see high value in the dashboards. 
  • While the dashboards are free to license, there is a high cost of ownership for implementation, maintenance, technical expertise, and resources. 
  • Ongoing maintenance, support, and training is difficult to sustain. 
  • Release control is difficult given limited financial resources and technical skills on site, especially where customization has occurred. 
  • The flexibility needed to provide each user with appropriate and relevant data drives significant complexity. 
  • The dashboards were originally intended for use by teachers; in practice, however, they are more commonly used by district and building administration roles. 

The study also included a set of preliminary options to consider, which were: 

  • Option 1 – Continue existing Ed-Fi Dashboards product management strategy. 
  • Option 2 – Transition product to Ed-Fi Community or upgrade product and then transition to the Ed-Fi Community. 
  • Option 3 – Sunset the product and/or partner with commercial vendor(s) to fill the gap. 
  • Option 4 –Sunset the visualizations component and continue to invest in metrics only generation. 

In order to ensure an inclusive and transparent consideration of the options, we decided to use the Ed-Fi governance process to inform and guide the future direction of this work. The Governance Advisory Team (GAT) discussed this topic during their July monthly meeting (see meeting notes here).  The GAT confirmed that the Dashboards have fulfilled an important role in demonstrating the value proposition of Ed-Fi to stakeholders outside of IT departments, and they felt that some form of “bright shiny object” should continue to form part of the Alliance’s offering in the future. They therefore recommended the formation of a Community Work Group to carefully consider and propose options for future investments.  

If you are interested in participating in the work group – in either a participatory or leadership role, please send an email to chris.moffatt@ed-fi.org and cc: governance@ed-fi.org. We plan to convene the work group and establish a charter for the work group as soon as we have a critical mass of committed participants.