Interoperability in Education: Improving Student Outcomes

Social Solutions Blog

Interoperability in Education: Improving Student Outcomes


Across the social service sector, two important trends are gaining widespread attention, both of which are crucial to improving interoperability in education. The first, which we talk about a lot, is technology, specifically how new technological developments can help organizations operate more efficiently and improve outcomes. The second trend is collaboration. Organizations and institutions are now starting to focus more on working together and utilizing a more holistic perspective to provide services that truly help solve the problems we are facing.

When these two important trends come together, we get something known as interoperability, or the ability of systems and technology to “speak” to one another.  In education, in particular, interoperability is fast becoming an important element in improving student outcomes.

Keep reading to find out how interoperability in education may be a critical factor for student success and how your organization or institution can use interoperable systems to improve outcomes.

Benefits of Interoperability

According to the US Department of Education, digital systems interoperability has been a goal of systems architects and standard-bearers for many years but has experienced limited success.

Some of the benefits of interoperability in education would include:

  1. Improved ability for schools and teachers to exchange information about students who move from one location or institution to another
  2. Educational resources customized to the student
  3. Increased access to data and advanced reporting that can help researchers and larger institutions like the Department of Education evaluate the effectiveness of the educational system in ways that are not currently viable.

By utilizing interoperable systems to gather and analyze evidence, learning systems can be improved and we can achieve a better understanding of how people learn.

How to Use Interoperability to Improve Outcomes

While the benefits of interoperability in education are quite clear, implementation of interoperable systems is another matter. The Department of Education has expressed a commitment to determining how it can aid and encourage educational institutions to focus more on interoperability and to adopt interoperable systems and practices, but it cannot create this change alone.

So how can educators, management, policymakers and funders begin to make the ideals of interoperability in education a reality?

I’m glad you asked.

  1. Download the Office of Education Technology’s report on Expanding Evidence Approaches for Learning in a Digital World.  This report addresses specific recommended actions that can be taken by other members of the educational system interested in furthering the move towards interoperability.
  2. Read the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) report on Transforming Data to Information in Service of Learning to better understand the context for interoperability issues.
  3. Learn how other educational organizations are shifting their focus to evidence-based practices and performance management models.
  4. Make sure your data is in a system that is flexible and shareable.  For example, Social Solutions’ Efforts to Outcomes educational case management software allows data to be measured and exported to a Performance Cloud™ where it can be compared with population data as well as data from other systems.

By learning about the state of interoperability in education and beginning to think about how your institution or organization can start to integrate advances in technology in order to move towards a more collaborative model, you set your constituents and students up for the best possible chances of success. And after all, isn’t that what we’re all about?


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