The primary focus at each Technical Congress is to accurately capture feedback, comments, and discussion from our growing and diverse group of stakeholders. This event is an annual opportunity for the Ed-Fi Community to articulate and discuss our most pressing topics, and to prioritize where we should focus our resources.

We spend a lot of time soaking in this feedback after the event and reference it constantly throughout the year. Even more importantly, we think about how we can implement community members’ ideas at scale while providing the tools that work for all users.

How the Technical Congress has Grown

  • In 2017 we hosted 45 Community members for a one-day session here in Austin, Texas.
  • In 2018 we hosted 135 Community members for two days with 16 sessions in Scottsdale, AZ.
  • This year, we hosted a sold-out event with 185 Community members—and many more requesting to attend—over two and a half days with 28 different sessions in St. Petersburg, FL.

Not surprisingly, as the Ed-Fi Community grows our list of challenges to solve grows too. We love seeing and experiencing this growth. As we are embracing our growth trajectory, we also need to think about how we can keep everyone in the tent. How do we meet the needs of all of our stakeholders? How can we deliver on an ambitious technology roadmap and timeline at the same time?

Stick it to Ed-Fi: The Community Feedback Exercise

The challenges and the answers can both be sourced within our community, which is why we continued our popular community feedback exercise at this year’s Tech Congress. We used a very low-tech method for gathering feedback and ideas: sticky notes. Attendees were asked to write down any issues, problems or opportunities that they experience on sticky notes and to post those thoughts publicly on the boards stationed around the room. We invited community members to speak up about their experiences so that the entire Ed-Fi Community could benefit.

After much discussion and lots of sticking, we grouped all of the notes into themes (a total of 36!) and asked attendees to lobby for issues they felt were the most important. Which ideas should we prioritize? Which problems should we tackle first? The needs of the Community are big, diverse, and growing. As much as we’d like to solve all the challenges now, it’s not feasible. This is where a truly democratic forum is critical.

Each participating organization received five colored balls and we asked everyone to cast their votes for the themes that were most important to them. The themes that bubbled to the top (those with > 10 votes) are the areas where we will prioritize our time and attention. Beyond getting the Community to weigh in on the issues they see as most important, the other benefit to this model is that we are actively and very visibly giving a voice to our technical community. This is how we make decisions—out in the open, transparent, and at all times reflective and responsive to our users. Here’s where we landed:

For the full technical recap of sessions and discussions from this year’s Tech Congress, you can visit the TechDocs report. And of course, the feedback loop is open year-round through our Special Interest Groups, Slack channel, webinars, the Summit, and other events.