Spreadsheet Hell. An Antidote.
At this moment, in every single school and district in America, someone is plumbing the depths of spreadsheet hell.
K-12 is about piecing together data to not only understanding the workings of a school but also to continuously report back to state department of education overlords. And, as we often make the case, data is siloed ESPECIALLY in education. The usual way out of the silos is downloading data into spreadsheets, working various formulas, combining and pushing the data, and crossing the fingers when it comes to quality control.
It is not enjoyable. And it is a huge time suck.
I would know. Searching and sifting through data via formula commands was a frequent task in my job as a Technology Director. I could never escape the thought and hope there had to be a better way to automate the data task.
Fortunately, some progress is here.
How many Technology Directors can relate? .NORM File Format by XKCD CC BY-NC 2.5
It’s about the standards
Standardization saves time. When companies, schools, and individuals rely on standards (agreed on frameworks) for data transfer, less time is spent trying to determine the oddities and complexities of spreadsheets.
Take rostering as an example. School districts use a host of different services that always require the rostering of their students. Moving student registration data from the Student Information System to publication companies always takes effort. When standards exist, the school can run one simple script for extracting the data and not have to reinvent the wheel with every product.
Standardization also enables interoperability. When all companies follow the same standard, their products can communicate with each other in a common language.
IMS Global is the leading institution for defining data standards in education. They simplify the questions of interoperability with companies. For example, at Abre we know to follow the standard of OneRoster® when creating data extracts for companies like Pearson or NWEA. We know to use the standard of Common Cartridge® when giving schools the ability to extract and save their online Abre courses. We have a rulebook that provides a level of quality and attention to detail that we appreciate.
Abre is quite happy to be not only a contributing member to IMS Global, but also a certified provider of OneRoster® standardized integrations.
By being a certified provider, we provide a partial antidote to spreadsheet hell.
OneRoster® and CommonCartridge® is a trademark of the IMS Global Learning Consortium, Inc. (www.imsglobal.org).