Looking Back, Looking Ahead

As we approach the holidays—the paradoxical annual ritual of gearing up to wind down—we will all reflect on the year’s swirl of events in our own ways. It’s easy to lose track of the details, and also extremely important to recall them. In the context of Ed-Fi, each achievement reminds us why we’ve all worked so hard this year. Tracking our progress also demonstrates the powerful momentum around interoperability.

Let’s flash back to this time last year. Ed-Fi Academy was just starting to take shape. We were thrilled by a strong showing of 280 Summit attendees in 2017 (not knowing this would grow to nearly 400 attendees in 2018). Our partnership with AWS was beginning to take shape. We took our team on the road, visiting Ed-Fi Community members and presenting at edtech events in Florida, Massachusetts, Colorado, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Rhode Island, and Washington DC in the first four months of the year.

Then, we cohosted the Technical Congress—appropriately dubbed the “un-conference”—in Phoenix together with our friends at the Arizona Department of Education. There, we got into the nitty gritty; we heard from attendees about what Ed-Fi was doing right, what we could be doing better, and what we mustn’t lose sight of as this thing we’ve built together picks up steam.

In an effort to keep the conversations from the Technical Congress going, we invited you to join new special interest groups (SIGs) including the Technical Advisory Group and SIGs on Analytics Visualization, Financial Reporting, Special Education Data Model, Open Source Database/Diversity, and most recently the Communications Council.

In July, we took on DC for the 2018 NCES Data Conference and hosted a networking event with our partners at Celt Corp., Certica Solutions, ESP Solutions Group, AEM, Learning Mate, UPD Consulting, and Double Line Partners. We were thrilled with the response we received throughout the conference.

Next we applied your feedback to our technology directly, launching Version 3.0 of the Data Standard and ODS/API. Then—thanks to many of you for your input—Ed-Fi Academy was born. The goal was to ensure new Ed-Fi implementers were better supported, and we feel confident that the Academy makes Ed-Fi adoption more accessible every step of the way.

Sprinkled in here, we also launched a webinar series, hosting 13 webinars in 2018 with great attendance and engagement, created a video series to spotlight Community members like these in Arizona and Florida, and refined our governance structure which will guide the organization moving forward.

We’re constantly using your invaluable on-the-ground expertise to simultaneously improve our work within its current confines, and change the nature of the work entirely. We proudly launched two instances of true innovation—examples of changing the work—at the 2018 Summit: our Academic Benchmark partnership with Certica Solutions—a more comprehensive way for educators to measure their students’ success, and The Ed-Fi Generate Plugin—a huge leap toward turnkey federal reporting.

These innovations and new, collaborative partnerships including those with AWS, Salesforce, and EdWire are the name of the game when it comes to changing the work. As we saw during the powerful Dallas Promise fireside chat at this year’s Summit, every time we insert Ed-Fi into a seemingly unorthodox collaborative or challenge, we expand the technology’s perceived potential and therefore expand its actual potential.  

In 2019, we will keep the feedback loop strong as we continue building awareness among IT leaders and bring Ed-Fi to life for new, influential audiences. We will split our Summit and Bootcamp into two events so we can devote more time to both ideating and technical training, and you’ll see our name on the schedule at more state and national events. We’ll be tightening up the way we communicate our work, and equipping you with tools to make a stronger case for Ed-Fi in your own districts, states, companies, and collaboratives.

On behalf of the Ed-Fi team, thank you for helping us accomplish so much this year. You truly fuel this vehicle and guide our direction. We applaud you on your many accomplishments this year, too! We wish you a happy, healthy, relaxing holiday season before we all hit the ground running in 2019.