Achieving interoperability in K-12 education requires a coordinated, districtwide effort. Here are four steps that school systems must take to make it happen.
1. Create a common vision around data interoperability. For data to be shared seamlessly across all departments and applications, school districts must adhere to common standards and follow uniform purchasing practices. This will require collaboration between the IT and curriculum departments, with executive sponsorship from the superintendent or another cabinet-level position. School districts should assemble an interoperability committee and establish a common vision for what they hope to accomplish. This vision should address how data will be stored and shared and for what purposes.
2. Add interoperability requirements to software purchasing contracts. Moving content and data across multiple applications is difficult, because each system uses its own unique nomenclatures for naming data fields, formats for saving information and so on. Choosing software that uses common standards can solve this problem. Leaders must understand the various interoperability standards that currently exist and decide which standards make the most sense for their district, then specify them in requests for proposals and software contracts. This should be done uniformly across all schools and departments.
3. Establish sound data governance policies and structures. Maintaining the privacy and security of student and staff information is a top priority. School systems are subject to significant penalties if they fail to comply with HIPAA, FERPA, COPPA and other privacy laws. Leaders must establish clear policies and procedures for safeguarding data privacy and ensuring that only authorized personnel can access relevant information. These policies should address key questions such as how data will be stored and secured, who has “ownership” of the data, who should have access to what types of information and what kinds of data transfers are permitted.
4. Build a secure and reliable network infrastructure for transmitting information. The ability to share and exchange data seamlessly across multiple platforms and departments is dependent on reliable network connectivity. To handle the ever-increasing volume of data being exchanged within schools daily, a secure and dependable high-speed network is essential. This means not only secure fiber or high speed data (HSD) coaxial cable connections between buildings but also comprehensive WiFi coverage in all locations, complete with the latest encryption for safeguarding data and role-based user authentication for identifying who has access to what types of information.
Is your school still struggling with data interoperability? Check out how FCS can bring it all together for you to achieve seamless data import and export. Our amazing team can help you achieve the path to true interoperability, leading towards happier and productive students and staff. Send us a message for a free consultation.