No two Ed-Fi implementations look exactly alike. Each agency has their own priorities and specific challenges that they are attempting to solve with interoperability. That said, the most successful Ed-Fi implementations share many of the same genes, the same foundation. As the Ed-Fi Community has grown, we’ve seen best practices and patterns of success emerge.
Our team has collected valuable field knowledge as we’ve helped local education agencies, state education agencies, technology providers, collaboratives, and other organizations get running on Ed-Fi. Now, Ed-Fi has a large enough sample size, with enough use case variety, to provide some universal implementation guidance for the benefit of all Ed-Fi users.
Our LEA, SEA, and Technology Provider teams have done the work to document their knowledge on Ed-Fi implementation best practices. For all three groups, this includes information about how to identify your priority use case, the areas where interoperability can offer a robust solution, how to build an effective implementation team, and resources to help you move through implementation smoothly.
We’re calling these new training resources the Implementation Playbooks. You can find these three new playbooks housed in TechDocs within the Ed-Fi Training section. If you’re already a licensed Ed-Fi user with a TechDocs login, you’re all set! If you’re new to Ed-Fi, you’ll need to create an account to access the playbooks.
These guides are very much a work in progress and we will continue to build them out. Here’s an overview of what you’ll find in this first iteration of each playbook.
The Local Education Agencies & Collaboratives Playbook
We see the most variance with this group because it includes organizations of many stripes; school districts of all sizes, collaboratives, charters, and local nonprofit organizations. Some local education agencies have system integrators taking the lead on Ed-Fi while others are working to implement in-house, and there are typically many applications and sources of data involved.
Regardless of resources and the type of organization, a successful local education Ed-Fi implementation starts with conversations about team and governance. “We’ve written this playbook with both technology staff and programs staff in mind so these departments can work through implementation together. For LEAs, one of the most critical ingredients for success is collaboration between IT and data teams in service of teachers and learners,” says our Manager of Strategic Partnerships for LEAs, Sean Casey.
“The planning is essential. Who needs to be at the table? Whose buy-in is required at each step of the process? And who will maintain the work and continue to build? The way our playbook is set up, two of the four sections are devoted to planning and preparation. This is representative of how we recommend approaching interoperability.”
Once you get into the third section of this playbook on implementation, topics include: executing with an agile approach; a tour of Ed-Fi resources; ODS/API deployment; getting data into and out of the ODS. And the final Roll Out section includes a checklist worksheet and thoughts on training, “power users,” and sustainable support.
The Local Education Agency Playbook has quite a few slide decks embedded. These are refined presentations from successful boot camps we held at the Ed-Fi offices with a number of LEAs earlier in 2019. We think this format is valuable for LEAs because the decks can be shared and used to present to teams during the planning stages.
View the LEA Playbook > (Login Required)
The State Education Agencies Playbook
Our playbook for state education agencies is closely based on the use cases of a handful of states we hold up as shining Ed-Fi implementation examples. The playbook directly references and shares materials like architecture diagrams from states including Arizona, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Delaware.
When it comes to making the case for state Ed-Fi implementation, this playbook outlines the main benefits for SEAs: relieving costly manual data collection, surfacing real-time (and therefore useful) data, simplifying complex and expensive systems, answering repeated asks for the same data with ease, bridging agency silos, and solving legacy systems challenges.
The implementation section of this playbook covers a high-level project plan, elements of an Ed-Fi architecture, Ed-Fi installation environments, hardware and software recommendations, an overview of Ed-Fi data domains, an API overview with sandbox installation instructions, and more.
“We pulled in real resources from states whenever we could. We want to continue to add use cases to the playbook,” says SEA Manager of Strategic Partnerships Maureen Wentworth. “The more we can bring the training to life with real-world examples, the more helpful it will be. And the great thing about our community is that if someone reads about what Arizona did, for example, and wants to talk to them about it, everyone is really open to sharing and mentoring.”
View the SEA Playbook > (Login Required)
The Technology Providers Playbook
As it should be, our Technology Provider Playbook is quite different from the other two. There’s a heavy focus on the Ed-Fi APIs with step-by-step activities and instructions. This playbook encourages technology providers to see their Ed-Fi experience as more than just writing to the APIs, though. We hope tech providers will engage, learn, build, join our Partner Program and receive Ed-Fi Certification, and continue contributing to improve our technology and practices.
One section of this playbook is devoted solely to Assessment providers in an effort to onboard more of this provider type with ease. New this year, Assessment providers can receive Ed-Fi Certification.
The topics covered in the Technology Provider playbook that apply to all provider types include API fundamentals like enumerations, key structures, authentication, authorization, and extensions, as well as common integration challenges, and a range of detailed implementation best practices.
Our Manager of Strategic Partnerships for Technology Providers Cesare Tise says, “For interoperability to become the norm in education, we need a paradigm shift in the sector where technology providers view it as their obligation to make their customers’ data interoperable. We want to fully support this shift, which is already underway, by rewarding the great actors who see the value and are moving swiftly. We hope this playbook serves as a great starting point, and then our Partner Program offers more direct support.”
View the Technology Provider Playbook > (Login Required)
These Playbooks are Just the Beginning
Whether you’re new to Ed-Fi and following one of these playbooks, or you’re a long-time advocate and want to review these to see if they line up with your experience, we want your feedback. Are there gaps in the information? Do certain sections need more context? Do you have a use case or supporting materials we can include to bolster one of the playbooks?
Please contact us anytime to share your thoughts. We hope these prove a valuable resource and we will be continuing to build out our training materials—one of our top organizational goals for Ed-Fi in 2020.