Have you ever wondered about all of the various software systems your school district uses to ensure operations function efficiently? Everything from student Information systems, finance systems, human resources workflows, and parent communications are not typically managed by one single software source.
Further, each of these unique tools are not necessarily built with similar technologies. Therefore, districts are tasked with finding new and improved ways to connect disparate software. Interoperability refers not just to data sharing but “the ability of different information systems, devices or applications to connect, in a coordinated manner, within and across organizational boundaries to access, exchange and cooperatively use data amongst stakeholders” (HIMSS, 2019).
There are hundreds of forms a district will access throughout the school year, requiring thousands of fields of data to be populated. In order to ensure forms are completed in a more timely way, it’s important your current systems talk to each other and you have the ability to pre-populate information from one system to another.
Although interoperability is a common goal for many school districts alike, there are still roadblocks that must be overcome in order to reach a full state of interoperability. Therefore, more edtech companies are adhering to the IMS Global Learning Consortium interoperability standards, including Permission Click.
Time Savings and Interoperability
Teachers, administrators, and central office staff are all working within a time deficit. In addition, all stakeholders in K–12 education are operating in an ever-changing environment due to COVID-19. Therefore, it is important to recognize various courses of action that help K–12 education stakeholders focus on their core mandates. Here are a few ways that the right edtech partner could help improve interoperability in your district:
Start of the year package:
Each year, student information needs to be updated. Everything from media release forms, technology acceptable use policy acknowledgments, and students’ developmental history forms. Along with these updates, important documentation such as the student agenda and handbook, code of conduct, and 1:1 device agreements need to be delivered throughout the district. Accordingly, there is a lot to manage with ownership from various departments in the school district. By leveraging integration between the student information system and your other systems such as digital forms platform, all of the essential components of the start of year package can be pre-populated with data to confirm a swift and accurate return of the mandatory information school districts require.
Tracking down start-of-year information can be tedious, regardless of the size of a district. By leveraging interoperability, school districts now have the ability to collect all of the relevant information in one place. Conversely, parents can now have the start of year package delivered in multiple ways which can be fitting to meet the diverse populations school districts serve. On the backend of the start-of-year process, districts can collect and monitor responses all on one screen. Also, the ability to send bulk reminders to families to complete the package, saves office administration from tracking down this information and makes the whole process more automated.
School Generated Funds:
Managing school-generated funds can be a time-consuming process. But it does not need to be this way. This is where interoperability can be advantageous with a solution that primarily collects funds digitally, records the transactions, and provides parents with payment confirmations. To add, schools need to have visibility into their budget in order to properly allocate funds. By providing school-generated fund information to the district’s finance department, schools will be able to monitor budgets as often as is required.
As technologies have advanced, cashless payments have surged and are more commonplace in our daily lives. So it is logical that schools have been following the trend. Start-of-year fees, fundraising, and payments for special interest groups can all be collected with digital payment solutions such as SafePay, making fee collection a more efficient option to confirm payment and provide a record of the transactions. Further, a digital payments solution offers complete deposit and financial reporting that can be exported as a spreadsheet and imported into a district’s financial system.
Student Travel and Activities:
As the world begins to recover from COVID-19 and students return to school, their activities and travel will be reinstated. Given the potential increase in travel and activity requests, it will be vital for school districts to ensure that the proper policies are followed. That means there will be an abundance of administrative work regarding form completion, form collection, fundraising, and planning. So, it may be a good time to think about transforming this work from paper-based processes to a digital solution.
Although COVID-19 has severely limited student travel, many school districts have continued to provide opportunities for students to participate in athletics. Even as competition is halted many teams still practice and the liabilities remain consistent. Whether it is concussion history, medical conditions, or allergies, schools have a duty of care to ensure all students participating in activities have a limited risk of being harmed. Ensuring that this information is available to district leaders is imperative. Ensuring the systems you use offer flexibility in data sharing, will grant that coaches, teacher-sponsors, and administrators can have access to each participant’s information all in one place in order to make participation as safe as possible.
Current State of Interoperability in K-12
To conclude, interoperability remains an important objective for many school districts. Given the wide variety of solutions used to power a school district’s operations, having interoperability capabilities is paramount when selecting new software. Today more than ever it’s important that the edtech vendors that you chose are open to working with other suppliers in the edtech market and can easily connect with your current systems to ensure that:
- You gain greater process efficiencies,
- there is a reduction in data errors, and
- districts realize a tangible return on investment realized through time savings of staff
If you want to learn more about how you could navigate interoperability with ease inside your district, we encourage you to watch our webinar “How to improve interoperability with forms and workflow that leverage your existing forms and data.”