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Learning Impact Blog

 

Dr. Colin Smythe, 1EdTech Chief ArchitectSo, You Want to Win a Learning Impact Award

Contributed by: Dr. Colin Smythe, 1EdTech Chief Architect

February 2023

 

The Do’s and Don’ts for Winning a Learning Impact Award: Insights and Advice from a Long-time Judge

The Learning Impact program was introduced by 1EdTech in 2007. Of course, at that time, we were IMS Global Learning Consortium. The program, which includes the annual Conference and Awards competition, aims to recognize innovative and influential uses of technology to support learning and teaching worldwide. Through it, we seek to identify the repeatable usage of teaching and learning technology to help private and public institutions and educational authorities to:

  • Increase access

  • Create personalized learning

  • Improve student engagement and experiences

  • Promote actionable assessment

  • Advance edtech ecosystem evolution

The program's emphasis is on...drumroll, please...improving learning impact. The focus is not on just using technology in learning. It is not even about using interoperability standards to get better information exchange. It is about improving learning and teaching experiences through the use of technology.

Award Nominations

The Learning Impact Awards process consists of three stages. The first is the initial submission through the online form.

Step 1: Application

The award nomination consists of a descriptive title, a brief (<1000 characters) overview of the project, and, most importantly, detailed descriptions (<2,500 characters) about the impact on Personalized Learning, Institutional Performance, and the Digital Learning Ecosystem each. Applicants must also categorize the maturity of the activity (Research, New, or Established) and its scope (International, Countrywide, System/School District, Institution/School, Departmental, or Workforce/Education-to-workforce). It doesn't matter who submits the nomination, but the project must involve a hosting user institution and the solution supplier.

Step 2: Supporting Materials

The finalists—typically between 30-40 organizations—are selected from the online nominations, plus the winners (top submissions) from regional competitions like the one hosted by the 1EdTech/IMS Japan Society. Finalists are selected by the 1EdTech team based on criteria to identify exemplary implementations of technology that demonstrate the greatest impact, or potential impact, on addressing the challenges facing the global learning sector and possessing the greatest potential for generating a positive return in investment. Most of the applicants rejected at this stage are because they are just a sales pitch for a particular product. While most submissions are from North American organizations, a growing number are received from the rest of the world. The second stage consists of:

  • A one-page document in English outlining the challenge, solution, learning impact outcomes, and return on investment
  • A four-minute or less video pitch about the project

The project materials are made available to the judges for review (and later posted on 1EdTech's website for everyone to access). The session with the judging panel is the third and final step.

Step 3: Presentation

  • A ten-minute live presentation to the expert judges split into five minutes of demonstration/visuals and five minutes of question and answer. Each of the five-minute periods is rigorously enforced.

This year, the final presentations to the judges will be on Monday, June 5, at the start of the Learning Impact Conference in Anaheim, California.

Good quality information for all three phases is important. A good submission provides complementary information.

Judging

The Learning Impact Award judges are volunteers from the 1EdTech Contributing Members institutions and staff, mostly from North America. 1EdTech Members are from 28 different countries, so more than 20% of our membership is outside North America. Around the world, there are different perspectives on Learning Impact, and so we need more volunteers1 from our non-North American institutional members.

There is no limit on the number of years someone can be a judge. I have been one since 2007, but most people do it for 1-2 years. Being a judge takes approximately 2-3 days of work over a couple of months (including the intensive day of the presentations). Depending on their preferences, judges are allocated to either the Established or the New/Research categories. We would like a balance of judges from higher education/K-12/corporate training, but we have to use those who volunteer. Typically, each judge gets 15-20 entries to evaluate (we try to keep the number of successful submissions in each category balanced).

Each judge has their style of preparation, but everyone has done the background work before the day of the presentations. My approach is to read all the online submissions to get a feel for the entire set I’m judging first. I then go through each submission and read the 1-page document and the accompanying video. Only then do I go back and allocate my initial scores. Each judge must score each submission on the evidence for the Impact on Personalized Learning, Impact on Institutional Performance, and Impact of the Digital Learning Ecosystem. We use a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the top mark. The final step is to listen to the presentations and raise any questions. After each presentation, I amend my scores; it is not unusual for at least one score to be changed. Each judge scores independently, and there is no discussion between the judges about their scores.

Scores and Awards

The final scores are produced by averaging out the scores from judges. One final tweak is that we provide an opportunity for everyone to rate the submissions (although they do not attend or see recordings of the presentations and Q&A). The scores from the public voting are averaged to become the equivalent of one other judge. We then take the ordered list and name two winners for each award level: platinum, gold, silver, and bronze.

There is no balancing of winners with respect to the types or maturity levels of the project categories. Occasionally, but rarely, when the scores are very close, we can have three winners in one award grouping. Winners are announced during one of the general sessions at the Learning Impact conference and in a public press release.

What Makes a Winner

The five features that are most common in platinum, gold, silver, or bronze awards winners are:

  1. Provision of clear, strong evidence that supports the claims being made in the application for the improvement in learning impact. The objective is better than the subjective. Facts-and figures are more important than verbal supporting statements.

  2. There are clear and significant benefits for each of the Personalized Learning, Institutional Performance, and Digital Learning Ecosystem perspectives. That does not mean that the benefits are equal in the three perspectives.

  3. The focus of the information presented in the three formats is on the improvement in the learning impact. It is clear how the new technology is being used to overcome a weakness or provide a new teaching and learning capability that was otherwise missing.

  4. Solutions make use of the relevant technical standards and specifications. This includes, where appropriate, the use of the 1EdTech specifications (it is a "horses for courses" approach, but the judges are skeptical of any solution that uses no technology standards or specifications). Technology solutions that focus on providing a total edtech solution invariably do badly. The aim should be to enable combinations of innovative solutions and strategies and to avoid ‘lock-in’ to any product and/or vendor.

  5. There is a clear and strong working relationship between the submitting supplier and the institution. Furthermore, the more submissions an organization makes to the same Learning Impact Award competition, the less successful the outcomes. Organizations with similar submissions over multiple years are also less successful. Quality, focus, and clarity are key.

What to Avoid

The five most common mistakes, in order of significance, made in submissions that are not platinum, gold, silver, or bronze award winners are:

  1. The improvement in learning impact is unclear. Remember, this is an award for learning impact, so be very clear on how learning and teaching are improved. This is not just about the use of educational technology. It is about using such technology to improve teaching and learning experiences.

  2. There is a lack of information or participation from the institution (particularly during the presentation and Q&A session) that benefits from the learning impact. This is supposed to be a joint submission from the supplier and institution using the technology.

  3. Insufficient context is supplied. This is very important for non-North American submissions. What may be mundane in North America (and remember, most judges are North American) may be state-of-the-art elsewhere. It is about the improvement in learning impact. Do not assume the judges will appreciate the learning and teaching context in your country; they will probably not.

  4. The same information is repeated in the same way in each of the three submission formats (one-page document, video, and presentation). The video is a great way to demonstrate some key activities. I would avoid too many talking head clips. The one-pager and presentation are great for summarizing facts and figures;

  5. The timing of the presentation goes awry, and key points are not covered before the end of the strict five minutes. Get the key points presented early so that nothing important is lost if you run out of time. Of course, rehearsal of the five minutes is important.

Like most successful endeavors, early planning is important. When preparing your submission, make sure you provide:

  • Evidence, as much as possible, for the claimed improvement in learning impact
  • Information for all three evaluation criteria (Personalized Learning, Institutional Performance, and Digital Learning Ecosystem)
  • Evidence of strong collaboration between the solution supplier and the hosting institution
  • Complementary styles of information using the different submission formats

The nomination period for the 2023 Learning Impact Awards begins on January 31 and ends on February 28. Click here to submit. Good luck!


1If you are from a 1EdTech Contributing Member district, state, or higher ed institution and would like to volunteer to be a judge at an upcoming competition, contact Cara Jenkins at marketing@1edtech.org.

 

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Rob Abel, Ed.D., Chief Executive Officer, 1EdTechOpen, Trusted, Innovative

Contributed by:

Rob Abel, Ed.D., Chief Executive Officer, 1EdTech

January 2023

 

Three Words that Describe the EdTech Ecosystem We Are Building Together: Open, Trusted, Innovative

Happy 2023 everyone! Your 1EdTech Consortium finished 2022 with 864 member organizations, adding 167 net new members. That's a new record!

Will 2023 be another record year for our community? I don’t know. But I do know that our community of leading institutional and supplier members spanning K-12, higher education, and corporate learning will further the spread of an edtech (including digital credentials) ecosystem that, as we like to say, can power learner potential.

The 1EdTech brand came out of many years prior in which we purposely evolved the primary focus from “standards” to “ecosystem.” We did this because it is an edtech ecosystem in which products work together to meet the needs of institutions, faculty, and learners, which is the primary objective. Interoperability standards make an ecosystem possible but do not create an interoperable ecosystem by themselves. A concerted community collaboration creates the ecosystem.

Most importantly, what the ecosystem enables are better learner experiences. The learner has been our call to action since 2007, when we held our first Learning Impact Conference and adopted the @LearningImpact Twitter handle.

Today our community is growing an edtech ecosystem in which products are expected to work together, and digital credentials—representing learner achievements—are expected to be transferrable across education and work.

Three words that mean very specific things to our community describe this ecosystem: Open, Trusted, and Innovative.

The Ecosystem We Are Shaping

  • Open: Connectivity based on open standards as the first option; choice enabling

  • Trusted: Safe, transparent, verifiable, engendering lasting partnerships

  • Innovative: Catalyzing advancements in education and digital learning

 

Open

An open ecosystem lowers the barriers to entry for new products to work with other products and for credentials from many learning experiences to be easily curated, transmitted, and received. Open means that we expect that institutions can construct ecosystems from the widest possible range of digital products and platforms and that those products and platforms do not form the infamous "walled garden" or closed ecosystem. The same goes for digital credentials that are generated. Choice, evolution, and opportunity enabling are the tests that must be met.

 

Trusted

1EdTech TrustEd App Pledge Endorsed imageA trusted ecosystem is made safe through transparent policies and practices with respect to privacy, security, accessibility, and connectivity. But the most important to the 1EdTech community is verification. Open standards enable evolution, choice, and opportunity but only if they are implemented consistently across the ecosystem and as the first choice for product integrations. Trust builds, sustains, and grows through community verification that products and credentials meet the criteria for being open. In 1EdTech, our community addresses this through mutually beneficial certification, development resources, and diagnostic tools. Ecosystems without a community-supported verification drift toward private purposes and away from reliability.

 

Innovative

When verified open ecosystems spread across the industry, then innovators thrive. They can easily take advantage of existing platforms and capabilities without reinventing. In the 1EdTech community, we go far beyond lowering barriers to entry by also encouraging specific areas of innovation that institutional and product leaders see great promise in. 1EdTech's mission is guided by four strategic leadership imperatives and carried out by our six workstreams.We call these areas of innovation our workstreams, and we coordinate them closely with our four strategic leadership imperatives (aka strategies) for the future. We also ensure consistency across the ecosystem, which means that innovation can be affordably scaled to reach all stakeholders.

Is an open, trusted, and innovative edtech ecosystem achievable? Well, it doesn’t happen through magic or the same old approaches. It happens when hundreds of leading organizations create an ecosystem foundation they can leverage to meet their unique needs.

I encourage you to read some ways that 1EdTech members are powering learner potential by checking out the vignettes for each of our four leadership imperatives.

I look forward to seeing you at our Digital Credentials Summit (February 27 – March 1, Dallas, TX, USA) and Learning impact 2023 (June 5-8, Anaheim, CA, USA).

 

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Andrea Deau Senior Director for Higher Education Programs, 1EdTech1EdTech HED Talk

Contributed by:

Andrea Deau, Senior Director for Higher Education Programs, 1EdTech

 

Overcoming “Data Blindness”

New research published in the peer-reviewed Journal “Science” found that despite the vast amount of data available to universities, they lag behind industry, business, and government in deriving strategic value from that data. It can be difficult to achieve your strategic goals if you don’t know what you’re working with or if you can’t track your progress.

The study points out that one issue with universities being “data blind” is that many times, there is no one in charge of the data, and when there is, they have so many other responsibilities that it can fall by the wayside.

In my years of working at a research university and now with various higher ed institutions, I know there are a few steps institutions can take to make collecting and effectively analyzing data easier and more secure.

One of the big concerns is data privacy, which can get complicated with evolving rules and regulations. 1EdTech does review the privacy policies of thousands of tools and applications, and you can find more information on that in our TrustEd Apps Directory. We also have a TrustEd Apps Management Suite currently being used by K-12 districts, which lists curated edtech apps validated for privacy and integration. We are working with our members to make it more applicable to higher ed this year.

Outside of that, much of the work is already done for you, and many of you may already have or are currently creating a digital ecosystem for your campus. As you build it, I recommend using interoperability standards, including those created by the members of and certified by 1EdTech, to ensure your technology, tools, and apps all work seamlessly together.

An interoperable system also makes data easier to share between tools and systems so you can collect the information. Once you have it, standards, including 1EdTech’s Caliper Analytics®, can help make sense of the data and ensure you’re comparing apples to apples.

We are already seeing success with this strategy through our 1EdTech members.

The University of Michigan created the My Learning Analytics (MyLA) tool to provide students with information about their course engagement, which helps guide their decisions to improve academic outcomes and set personal goals for individual courses.

“Supporting faculty innovation is a cornerstone of our work, which means we need to be able to support a wide variety of edtech tools while also creating our own tools that enable new possibilities,” said Sean DeMonner, information systems executive director of teaching and learning at the University of Michigan. “The connectivity provided by 1EdTech standards, as well as our ability to influence those standards, means that we can enable seamless, data-rich integrations of commercial tools and our tools at a fraction of the time and cost while also trusting we can support a much larger collection of options for the faculty.”

Thanks to its data management platform, the University of California San Diego knows when it may have a student who needs additional support. The Student Activity Hub provides one secure space to store learner data without needing to pull the information from different applications. That allows faculty and advisors to track student progress and connect with student-facing technology.

“Our student activity hub helps us improve our students’ success, including enabling broader and deeper insight into student progress, personal messaging and reminders, understanding the impact of co-curriculars, and nearly limitless possibilities on connecting data from our edtech ecosystem,” said Vince Kellen, chief information officer at the University of California San Diego.

Penn State is consistently working to evaluate and, when needed, improve courses to serve students better. The university’s course improvement model asks faculty to evaluate and refresh courses on a regular basis. To do that effectively, they need data—especially data that tells them what content is being used and how.

“Having data that's easy to access and review is powerful when making decisions about tools and content to include in a course,” said Jen Stedelin, vice president for information technology and chief information officer at Penn State. “We no longer have to rely solely on anecdotal evidence. Data also helps us better understand student behavior, so we can reach out and offer more timely help to students who may be struggling.”

These are just a few examples of 1EdTech members leveraging interoperability and standards to move away from “data blindness” and instead use the resources available to them to achieve their strategic goals.

 

About the Author
Andrea Deau is the senior director for higher education partnerships. She works closely with members to meet their challenges in the rapidly growing and evolving digital teaching and learning landscape. She has a robust professional history as an academic innovation leader focused on student-centered education and experiences.

 

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1EdTech Talk on Credentials

Co-Authored by:

Rob Coyle, Technical Program Manager, 1EdTech

Kelly Hoyland, Higher Education Program Manager, 1EdTech


Millions of Credentials Available – So What’s Next?

According to a recent report from the nonprofit Credential Engine, more than one million (1,076,358) post-secondary credentials are being offered across the United States from various providers. Some credentials are offered by institutions of higher education, some by private companies, and others by government organizations. 

The growth is exciting, and for those involved in moving credentials forward, it is also promising because it indicates that more learners, employers, and educators see the value of digital credentials as a way of expanding and improving skills-based hiring. 

However, while we celebrate this growth, we cannot let it distract us from continuing to ensure that as digital credentials become more common, they also become more valuable to both learners and employers. 

Credential Engine CEO Scott Cheney made a good point in an article from Inside Higher Ed when he said, “The diversity of the marketplace is both a good thing and a challenge. It shows there’s a lot of innovation and there’s a lot of different ways to advance yourself, but we don’t have good information still about which ones are the best ways, and that’s what we really have to focus on … It’s easy to get lost in this chaos.” 

Right now, many digital credential programs are inconsistent. Some are centered in one market segment, others are regional, and a few programs reach statewide but not nationally. They’re set up in a way that employers know exactly what a person had to do or learn in order to earn the credential, so they know exactly what they’re getting. The only challenge is the programs are so regional the credential doesn’t have the same weight if a person tries to apply for a position outside of that region.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Every new idea has to start somewhere, and the fact digital credentials are growing means these regional programs show promise. Now, we just need to make that promise and take it a few steps further. We do that by creating standards and rules around the credentials, so they are meaningful everywhere. 

This is important to our 1EdTech member community because we believe, if done right, digital credentials are the way to open up a world of career possibilities in a more equitable way.

They hold the promise of giving people credit for skills they earn anywhere, either on the job, in training, or in more traditional ways through education. They provide a way of recognizing and giving credit for the work learners do in college, even if they don’t complete a full degree. This also makes the cost of a college education a little easier to swallow, knowing you aren’t leaving without anything if you can’t stay for four or more years. 

In this way, the variety of organizations and institutions offering credentials is fantastic news. Learners can find the program that works best for them and get the skills they need to earn the jobs they want. 

Our job is to make sure the employers understand what those learned skills and experiences are and how they fill the needs of their organization. 

At 1EdTech, we are addressing that challenge on several fronts. 

  • First, we have Open Badges, which provide the information an employer needs to understand what skills any given credential brings to the table and easily verify those skills.

  • Second, our Comprehensive Learner Record (CLR Standard™) empowers learners to have agency over their own accomplishments. Regardless of where or how many different places a learner earns their credentials, they can store and curate them all in one location and share them as needed with various employers.

Also, thanks to the 1EdTech Open Badges and CLR standard, the credentials can be stored and shared from any digital wallet, regardless of where the credential came from. 

1EdTech’s work on these two standards is ongoing, with the latest updates set to be released in 2023. The updates align the two standards more closely with each other and meet W3C-verified credential standards, allowing suppliers to provide digital credentials that are more easily shared between various platforms.

Finally, we have incredible partnerships through our Wellspring Initiative that help connect employers and HR professionals with open skills frameworks and verifiable credentials to understand what they need to make digital credentials work for learners and employers.

By creating digital credentials that meet 1EdTech’s open and trusted standards, we can create an ecosystem that moves out of the regional model and allows learners to share their skills anywhere in the country easily. Employers will know exactly what the applicants bring to the table. 

That’s the goal, and we are getting closer to it every day. 1EdTech’s members are proof of that, finding new and innovative ways to move this promising and important work forward. Most importantly, they’re doing it in collaboration with one another so that we can make this work nationwide. 

Those collaborations will be highlighted at our Digital Credentials Summit, February 27 – March 1, 2023, in Dallas, Texas. There will be something for everyone, whether you’re brand new to digital credentials or have been working with them for decades. Registration is open, and we’d love to see you there!

 

About the Authors

Rob Coyle, Technical Program Manager, 1EdTechRob Coyle is the technical program manager for 1EdTech’s digital credentials, specifically working with Open Badges and CLR Standards. He has more than 20 years of education and edtech experience working in higher education and K12, both public and private, as well as corporate training and development.

 

Kelly Hoyland, HED Program Manager, 1EdTechKelly Hoyland serves as the program manager for higher education at 1EdTech, where she works with members to meet the challenges they face in the rapidly growing and evolving digital teaching and learning landscape. This includes working across K-12, higher education, and corporate education to make life achievements more accessible, personalized and equitable from the start for every learner.

 

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1EdTech Talk on Credentials

Co-Authored by:

Jim Ireland, Executive Director, HR Open Standards Consortium

Mark Leuba, Vice President of Product Management, 1EdTech


Bridging the Gap Between Education and Employment

Imagine this, an employer wants to find someone with a specific set of skills, and they can sort through applicants based on those specific skills with just a click of a button. Not only that but applicants’ verified skills and accomplishments are highlighted, regardless of when or where they earned their credentials. It’s a world where employers find the people they need, and applicants, who may have been ignored at one point, are judged by what they know, what they can do, and nothing else.

It sounds idealistic, but that world is not as far away or as impossible as you may think. We can already see examples of that working in small pockets around the world, and with the new collaboration between 1EdTech and HR Open, we believe we can take that vision worldwide.

How? By using open standards to make it easy for everyone involved. It’s what 1EdTech and HR Open do best.

1EdTech’s Comprehensive Learner Record (CLR Standard™) and Open Badges create digital records of a learner’s or worker’s achievements that they have agency over and can share with potential employers. Through 1EdTech standards, these credentials are easily verifiable, so an employer doesn’t have to guess about the authenticity or what a specific credential means. Instead, they know exactly what the applicant brings to the table and can automatically verify it.

Still, these verifiable digital credentials are only useful if employer application systems can read them. That’s where HR Open Consortium comes in, the only independent, non-profit, volunteer-led organization dedicated to developing and promoting a standard suite of specifications to enable human resource-related data exchanges.

By creating a standard digital resume, an applicant can input it into the system, and the employer receives the pertinent information they need. The new Resume CV standard aims to include the ability to transfer credentials from a digital wallet, increasing the quality of information they receive from the resume.

The whole process can work if the technology speaks one language, and standards allow them to do that. Without standards, it’s like trying to charge an Android phone with an Apple charger—it’s not going to work.

Like we said, this is already working in small areas, where institutions of higher education, K-12 districts, and local businesses work together to create a system of developing and sharing credentials. You can read about a few examples here. The goal is to make this work on a larger scale. That’s why 1EdTech’s CLR is recommended by AACRAO, and we’re working to align our standards with W3C to help get everyone on the same page.

By combining the standards in education (1EdTech) and employment (HR Open), we hope to bridge the final gap to more efficient, effective, and equitable hiring practices.

There is still a lot of work to do, but we’re getting there. We hope you’ll join us at the next Digital Credentials Summit in Dallas, Texas, February 27 – March 1, 2023.

You can also participate in our monthly Digital Credential Roundtables and view past conversations online to learn more about this exciting work.

About the Authors

Jim Ireland, Executive Director, HR Open Standards ConsortiumJim Ireland is the executive leader of the HR Open Standards Consortium, an independent, non-profit, volunteer-led organization dedicated to developing and promoting a standard suite of specifications to enable human resource-related data exchanges.

 

Mark Leuba, Vice President of Product Management, 1EdTechMark Leuba is a technology leader in education with particular expertise in online and competency-based education. Mark's role in 1EdTech is to guide its product management strategy and team, building on the substantial success of the 1EdTech founding team.

 

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Dr. Tim Clark, Vice President of K-12 Programs, 1EdTech1EdTech K-12 Talk

Contributed by:

Dr. Tim Clark, Vice President of K-12 Programs, 1EdTech

 

Our Response to The Nation's Report Card

Recent data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) shows significant and alarming, although not necessarily surprising, declines in student performance since 2019. Some experts will look at the data and try to determine what went wrong and how we should have responded when the pandemic forced us to close schools and completely rethink how we educate students.

There is value to learning from the past, and that analysis will be helpful, but I choose to focus on the future and how we get students back to where they need to be, without putting unnecessary burdens on the already overworked, stressed, and declining number of teachers. 

Here’s the good news. We already have the tools to help students succeed as long as we’re willing to work together toward the solution. 

I will not go so far as to say educational technology can solve everything, but it can be leveraged to make solutions more effective and efficient. To paraphrase one 1EdTech member, once everything falls apart, you have the opportunity to build it back the way you want it, not the way it was. 

We have the opportunity to build an educational system that helps all of our students succeed, but we need to be intentional. Technology isn’t going away, so instead of treating it as a utility, leverage it to your advantage. The key? Bring your curriculum and IT departments together to create the digital ecosystem you need, and one that will have unlimited potential

There are so many tools out there to choose from, and by creating an interoperable digital ecosystem, that is to say, the various systems and apps work seamlessly together, you allow the tools to not only educate kids but also lift some of the additional burdens from educators. 

First, when the tools meet specific standards, you can create a single sign-on system, allowing teachers and students to access all of their tools without remembering different passwords or taking the time to work out the quirks of new products. This way, teachers and students can use the high-quality tools you select.

Not only that, but tools that work together have the ability to talk to one another, providing more valuable data to help guide lessons and to identify what students need the most help with specific subjects and tasks. Let the technology provide the necessary information without requiring teachers to sort through different reports and paperwork. 

We haven’t figured everything out yet, as there is still work to do and inequities to address, but I am confident we will find those solutions together because we’re already seeing it in districts around the country.

So, as you evaluate your individual results and look for solutions, I encourage you to bring your curriculum and IT departments together to find ways to make your technology work for you. Also, don’t forget to reach out to us. Our 1EdTech staff and members are here to help because together, we power learner potential

 

About the Author
Dr. Tim Clark, vice president of K-12 programs for 1EdTech, assists schools and districts in adopting 1EdTech standards and practices to enable interoperable and secure digital learning ecosystems. He also provides strategic leadership and collaboration opportunities for K-12 institutional and state education departments within the 1EdTech Consortium.

 

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Kelly Hoyland, HED Program Manager, 1EdTech1EdTech Talk on Credentials

Contributed by:

Kelly Hoyland, Higher Education Program Manager, 1EdTech

 

Creating a National LER: How 1EdTech Can Help Get Us There

The debate over how or if higher education needs to evolve always comes back to a few central needs and expectations of the students. To sum up, higher education is expensive, so people want assurances that their large investment will get them started on a rewarding career path once they graduate. That concern is compounded for people who aren’t certain higher education is the right path for them because if they don’t finish the degree, they lose all of the time and money they invested before leaving the institution.

One promising solution to all of these challenges, and one that is getting more and more attention, is Learner and Employment Records (LER).

LERs are records that individuals can hold, control, and build on throughout their lives as they acquire new skills. This includes everything from credits earned in higher education to professional development programs, certification assessments, and more. Thus, giving learners the ability to see how their investments tie into career requirements, maintain credit for their work even if they don’t complete a full degree, or can finish the degree on their own time. This also helps improve equity by providing flexibility in how and when a person earns the credentials they need for the career they want.

A recent whitepaper from Central New Mexico Community College, IBM, Western Governors University, Randa, Public Consulting Group, and Solutions for Information Design lays out recommendations to create a successful national LER ecosystem. Several of the contributors are 1EdTech members, and if you have the time, it’s worth a read, but here are my takeaways on how 1EdTech can help you get started with digital credentials and begin creating a national LER ecosystem.

1EdTech, our members, and partner organizations are already working on several of these recommendations. So, while it may feel overwhelming, starting your digital credential program from scratch is no longer necessary. Rather, a large community is ready and willing to help get you where you need to be, so you can help us make the dream of a national system a reality.

Breaking Down the Recommendations

So why are these steps so important? Let’s take it one at a time.

First, creating LER standards to meet the needs of the job market.

As the job market and the needs of employers evolve, so does the need for workers to reskill and upskill throughout their careers. Not everyone can return to school whenever a career change is needed. Instead, employers need a system that connects them to people with specific skills earned in various ways.

That system needs to be equitable and efficient to work, and that is where standards come in. The standards help make any credential work in any system. I like to use electrical outlets as an example. You can plug any lamp (credentials) into an electrical outlet (hiring system) and trust it will work because both the lamp and outlet are built to specific standards that ensure they will work together. It doesn’t matter if the lamp is tall, short, bright, changes colors, has a shade, or is a bare bulb, it will work in any outlet because it meets standards. All you have to do is pick the lamp you like and plug it in. That’s what standards do for credentials, you pick the ones you want, plug them into the system, and you can see what each applicant brings to the table without worrying if the format their credentials are in will work.

This does require all stakeholders to agree on one set of standards, which is why 1EdTech looks to partner with and align standards with other organizations, including aligning the latest Open Badge and CLR standards with W3C. This helps ensure we are all moving forward together. 

Second, create a technical infrastructure that provides shared identity/trust and skill/credential services.

Seeing what skills a person has is one thing, but knowing what those various credentials and accomplishments mean is something entirely different. 1EdTech’s Comprehensive Learner Record (CLR) standard can help with that too.

The study points out that the increasing diversity of job classifications and new job categories make a national LER system even more important. Employers are looking for individuals with specific skills, and they need to understand what each degree or credential means because they can mean completely different things depending on how a person earned them.

1EdTech’s Open Badges and CASE standards help serve as a type of decoder ring, providing context and data for each credential so the person reading them can verify the skills match what they need and that the credential comes from a trusted source.

This is important because currently, credentials are shared by the institution or company that issues them. So while they are trustworthy, the person who earned them can’t necessarily control or share them. Open Badges and CLR give the earner agency over their own credentials while also providing verification of validity.

Third, integrate talent marketplace provider offerings with the LER infrastructure.

Once you have the credentials, HR professionals and academic institutions must be able and willing to use them. 1EdTech’s Wellspring Project is focused on bringing institutions and employers together to drive the use of digital credentials and automate matching credentials with educational and employment opportunities. We also help facilitate conversations between educators and employers to ensure that what is taught in the classroom matches the skills needed to find a job.

To help move this forward, we recently partnered with the HR Open Standards Consortium to match digital credential standards with resume standards, making them easier for employers to access and use.

Fourth, invest in regional LER projects.

This isn’t something 1EdTech can do directly, but our contributions to the first three recommendations allow our members and organizational partners to take this need and run with it. The white paper mentions several case studies of their partners and 1EdTech members creating valuable and verifiable digital credentials in their local ecosystems. You can find more examples on 1EdTech’s Achievement, Opportunity, and Employment Imperative web page. These organizations are leading the way in creating a national LER ecosystem by proving it can work on a smaller scale.

The fifth and sixth requirements are creating legal and regulatory terms and creating an organization that certifies LER technologies and applications.

These are beyond 1EdTech’s purview, but we continue to partner and work alongside groups taking on these important issues to ensure the standards support and evolve along with the needs of learners, employers, institutions, and industries.

It’s a collaborative effort, one that is close to 1EdTech and our members. We are collaborating to create an open, trusted, and innovative ecosystem that works to benefit all. That’s what we do here. We join forces and find solutions together because we know that for this to succeed, it needs to work for everyone.

 

About the Author
Kelly Hoyland serves as the program manager for higher education at 1EdTech, where she works with members to meet the challenges they face in the rapidly growing and evolving digital teaching and learning landscape. This includes working across K-12, higher education, and corporate education to make life achievements more accessible, personalized and equitable from the start for every learner. 

 

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1EdTech Chief Architect Dr. Colin Smythe1EdTECH TALK

Contributed by Dr. Colin Smythe, 1EdTech Chief Architect

 

OneRoster® 1.2: Final Release Publication of the Latest Version of the 1EdTech Rostering, Resources & Gradebook Standards

In September 2022, 1EdTech published the OneRoster 1.2 standard. OneRoster is designed to support three use-cases:

  • Rostering of students in classes;
  • Rostering of users for access to learning resources;
  • Reporting of gradebook information.

 

BACKGROUND

We published OneRoster 1.0 in June 2015. This release focused on the exchange of rostering, Enrollments, of Users (Teachers and Students) in Classes at Schools but included a limited capability to exchange gradebook data. Even in this first release, there was support for both a REST-based API and CSV-based file exchange. OneRoster 1.0 was an immediate success and, typical of such success, a long list of limitations was identified, so work on version 1.1 was started.

Version 1.1, published in April 2017, included a substantial set of new features:

  • Extending the data model for the description of a User;

  • Support for identifying the set of Resources that need to be made available for a specific Class and/or Course;

  • Providing a data creation and deletion capability for the gradebook information, i.e., the Category, LineItem, and Result;

  • Adding the optional usage of OAuth 2 for the REST API binding definition.

We began work on OneRoster 1.2 in April 2017. The primary drivers for the new features were to:

  • Allow a User to have multiple Roles in more than one Organization;

  • Enable the identification of the set of Resources to be made available to a specific User;

  • Enable, for the Gradebook, the exchange of Score Scales, the mapping of results to the corresponding set of learning standards, and support detailed results reporting;

  • Provide a richer set of Gradebook Service endpoints to enable a Consumer to write information (push) into a Provider;

  • Break the REST-API specification into its three service components of rostering, resources, and gradebook, to simplify the adoption of part of the OneRoster specification.

 

Unusual for 1EdTech, the OneRoster specification consists of two information exchange (binding) approaches, CSV and REST API.

CSV-based exchange uses a zipped file of the set of CSV files. In OneRoster 1.0, the interoperability consisted of just seven CSV files and 38 REST endpoints; in OneRoster 1.1, this became 14 CSV files and 61 REST endpoints; for OneRoster 1.2, it is 22 CSV files and 81 REST endpoints.

For CSV file exchange, there are two approaches:

  • Bulk – the exchange of a complete data set, i.e., one that is semantically complete. This is to be interpreted as the creation of a OneRoster data-set or a destructive overwrite of the previously stored data-set;

  • Delta – the exchange of ONLY those data records that have changed since the previous exchange.

The expected behavior for CSV-based systems is initialization using Bulk exchange followed by a sequence of Delta update exchanges. The specification is silent on how the CSV files are exchanged. For the REST-API definitions, three sets of OpenAPI and JSON Schema files are supplied to simplify the creation and validation of Provider and Consumer implementations.

Other changes that have been made as the specification has evolved are:

  • Whereas the use of OAuth 1.0a message signing was required in OneRoster 1.0, OAuth 2.0 Bearer Token (Client Credentials) is required in OneRoster 1.1 and 1.2. In July 2021, support for OneRoster 1.0 was deprecated. Therefore, only OneRoster 1.1 and 1.2 are available for adoption and certification.

  • More extension features have been introduced to improve internationalization and localization (identified by the use of OneRoster in Japan and Norway). For example, in OneRoster 1.2, most of the enumerated vocabularies may be extended.

  • In OneRoster 1.0, only pull REST endpoints were permitted but in OneRoster 1.1 and 1.2, support for pull and push REST endpoints was introduced for the Gradebook Service.

Splitting the REST-API solution into three distinct services has increased the range of available certifications. The set of certifications now available are:

  • CSV Import and CSV Export. All certifications must support the exchange of Bulk-Rostering exchange. Support for Bulk-Resources and Bulk Gradebook exchange is optional. Support for Delta-Rostering, Delta-Resources, and Delta-Gradebook exchange is asl optional. A OneRoster CSV Validator for export certification and a set of OneRoster Reference Test Set Files for import certification are available to 1EdTech members.

  • REST API Provider or REST API Consumer. At least one of the following services must be supported: Rostering, Resources, Gradebook, Assessment Results. For each of these services, there is a minimum number of endpoints that MUST be supported, support of the others being optional. Separate Provider Certification and Consumer Certification conformance test systems are available to 1EdTech members.

This creates many possible certifications that can be awarded to a product. Therefore, two OneRoster-certified products are NOT guaranteed to be interoperable. You must read and compare the accompanying certification descriptions to understand the degree of interoperability.

 

ONEROSTER IN THE 1EDTECH ECOSYSTEM

OneRoster is a key component in many 1EdTech Ecosystems. The relationships between OneRoster and other 1EdTech standards are:

  • Learning Tools Interoperability® (LTI®) Advantage – The LTI Names & Roles Provisioning Services and Assignment and Grade Services extensions have overlapping functionality with OneRoster. However, these LTI and OneRoster services complement each other—LTI handles real-time interactions with an LTI-enabled tool/app and OneRoster supports the data initialization and archiving between another system and an LTI-enabled platform.

  • Competencies & Academic Standards Exchange® (CASE®) – The CASE Globally Unique Identifiers contained in the descriptions of the Resources to be made available to a Class, Course and/or User are used to identify the set of competencies and academic standards applied to that resource.

  • Question & Test Interoperability® (QTI®) – The overlap is between the QTI Results Reporting part of the QTI specification and the Assessment Results part of the OneRoster Gradebook Services. The latter enables QTI Results Reporting level of detail to report to a Student Information System, enabling more detailed results reporting in a gradebook.

  • Common Cartridge® and Thin Common Cartridge – The vendorResourceId property for a Resource can be used to map to the equivalent resource being exchanged in a Common Cartridge and/or Thin Common Cartridge. It should be noted that this requires the appropriate content identification planning and management by the vendor.

  • Edu-API – At present, this specification work is focused on creating a OneRoster equivalent for use in higher education. The data model for Users, Classes, Courses, and Enrollments is considerably more complex in higher education, so the simple adoption of OneRoster is not possible.

 

GLOBAL ADOPTION

The original OneRoster 1.0 version was designed to support K-12 districts/schools rostering in North America.

OneRoster 1.2 has been designed for use around the world. Work in Japan and Norway is already underway on the Profiling of OneRoster 1.2 to fit the specific needs of their K-12 education systems. A 1EdTech specification is defined to support a wide range of teaching and learning workflows and processes. It enables practice.

Profiling is the process by which a base specification is modified to enforce best practices specific to an education sector and/or geographic location. The advantage of profiling is that the corresponding modified conformance and certification systems and processes are created such that a product can be certified with respect to a Profile, thereby significantly improving, perhaps guaranteeing, interoperability.

 

WHAT'S NEXT

After working for more than seven years on creating and developing the OneRoster specification, it is time to focus on supporting broader adoption.

The 1EdTech member community has no plans to work on a OneRoster 1.3 version. It is more likely that any new version will be defined as a formal Profile of the Edu-API specification, but even this is many years away.

 

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Kim Moore, Executive Director of Workforce, Professional and Community Education, Wichita State University1EdTech Member Stories

Contributed by:

Kim Moore, JD, Executive Director of Workforce, Professional and Community Education, Wichita State University

 

Aligning Academic Outcomes with Employer Needs

Like many higher education institutions, Wichita State University is always looking for a way to improve our students' experiences and future successes. One area we've seen great success in is our badges program, a way to meet the needs of our students and our community.

Developing the Badges

After nearly eight years of innovating and developing digital credentials and badges for Wichita State University, I am constantly contacted by other universities wanting to start their own program. The best advice I can give them is not to start where I started. Instead, jump ahead to where we are now, working in partnership with all stakeholders to ensure your final product has real value in the workforce. 

At WSU, we started our badging program with the idea of supporting employers by providing learners with credentials that would assist in hiring and retaining employees. The program was successful, and I was eventually introduced to 1EdTech through that work. Although we were already presenting, and in many areas, leading this type of work, there is always more to learn.

Going Deeper with Wellspring

When the Wellspring Initiative started, I had a project in mind that I knew would be a great fit. We knew that the state of Kansas had a high need for direct support professionals who work with and serve as caregivers for people with intellectual or behavioral disabilities in professional and personal settings. 

Part of the problem is that this work is similar to CNAs but without any credentials, incentives, or professional development. That lack of support led to dissatisfaction, significant turnover, and a long wait for services for the people who depend on them.

We had a curriculum we were ready to use—modeled after one in Ohio—with just a few adjustments to meet the specific needs in Kansas. It created pathways not just for people already in the field but also opportunities for high school students to get the certification before they graduated. 

The Wellspring Initiative helped us take the program to a new level by bringing in more thought partners, employers, and human resource professionals. This was the first time in my years working with digital credentials that we had such an introspective team that brought so many different points of view. 

The Biggest Surprise

One of the final steps was to bring in not just employers but the HR professionals involved in hiring these positions to ensure our skills and competencies aligned with what they were looking for in a new hire. It was this step that brought one of the biggest surprises. 

Although we had looked at job descriptions and compared our curriculum to the skills required in the postings, we learned that they still didn't match what the hiring managers were looking for. In fact, even the HR professionals were surprised to realize that they weren't asking for what they wanted. 

The Wellspring Initiative helped us begin work on systemic changes to meet the needs of our community, and the improvements it promises are only starting to be realized. 

The Future

This broader perspective and collaboration gave our digital credentials real value because they are truly matched with the needs of the industry.

Working through these partnerships and being able to prove the value of our credentials opened even more possibilities and opportunities for our student's success: 

  • After launching the first two of eight badges in our direct support professionals series, one of our partners started a registered apprenticeship program to provide our students with the applied learning needed for the last six badges. At the same time, we were able to provide the academic credit the employers needed to receive federal aid for the project. 

  • The state is also offering higher reimbursement rates for providers to increase this type of professional development and offer higher wages for direct support professionals. 

  • After looking at the skills earned in the first two "core" badges, employers in the eldercare industry want to work with us on building a second pathway from those skill sets. 

  • We are working to develop the badges into a nationally recognized credential, similar to a CNA, to help address these employee shortages nationwide. 

In the end, it's a win-win-win. We can improve the experience and success of our students with meaningful credentials, our partners fill vacancies that are left open for far too long, and our community gets the services it needs.

 

About the Author
Kimberly Moore, JD, is the Executive Director for WPCE at Wichita State University. She has 35 years of experience in developing and coordinating workforce and professional development programming. A former state government administrator and corporate lobbyist, Kim served as Associate Director of the WSU Division of Continuing Education from 1996–2014. In October 2014, she was appointed Interim Director and served in that capacity until March 2015, when she was appointed Director of WPCE. She was promoted to Executive Director in June 2021. Kimberly received her bachelor's and Juris Doctor degrees from Washburn University, Topeka, Kansas.

 

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1EdTech Leaders Blog | July 2022Sonia Gupta, Associate Director of Marketing, Magic EdTech

Contributed by:

Sonia Gupta, Associate Director - Marketing, Magic EdTech

 

 

How Open Digital Ecosystems Enable Transformative Solutions in Education

Transitioning to a digital learning ecosystem has unlocked abundant innovative opportunities for students, educational institutions, and educational publishers. The traditional model of learning has its own set of benefits and challenges. However, blending it with digital tools has enabled access to huge volumes of data that can be used to make data-driven decisions for innovation in teaching methods, curriculum design, and learning experiences.

One of the most important legs of a digital learning ecosystem is 1EdTech's Learning Tools Interoperability® or LTI® standard. It works as a single framework that enables the integration of any Learning Management System (LMS) with any learning application. This empowers educators and students to quickly yet safely navigate the digital ecosystem and ease education delivery.

A Single Platform to Ease Innovation

Enabling interoperability could have proven to be an almost insurmountable challenge had it not been for the innovative solutions offered by digital learning platforms. Such a platform offers three key functions to ensure a seamless digital ecosystem for education:

  1. Content and Activity Management
    A digital learning platform can allow for student-content interactions through creating and delivering lessons, additional learning resources, multimedia assets, and assessments. It ensures quick creation, deployment, grading, and tracking of assessments. Further, educators are empowered to offer individualized, data-driven support to students for enhanced academic outcomes.

  2. Engagement Management
    Student-faculty and student-student interactions are enabled with the help of collaboration tools, such as message or discussion boards, chats, and video conferencing. For instance, single-sign-on (SSO) is enabled via integration with third-party systems, such as Clever. Plus, there is flexibility for custom integrations. 

  3. Learning Management
    The digital learning platform should support the management of rosters, grades, analytics, and outcomes reporting. Publishers can create curriculum-aligned assignments, while educators can save a huge amount of time in deploying and grading these assignments. Students have the facility to complete assignments asynchronously and receive personalized feedback. With this, educators can offer immediate feedback, create personalized learning paths, and maximize academic outcomes.

An open digital learning platform offers multiple advantages, including adaptability, data cohesion, and increased growth. These benefits present themselves in the digital ecosystem through:

  • Streamlined User Experience for Students: It can streamline enrollment into learning apps and automatically sync students’ grades to the grade book of record in the digital learning platform. 

  • Easy Data Extraction and Analysis for Educators: It gives more control to educators. They can integrate third-party resources, applications, and tools on the platform at any time and gain more in-depth and reliable insights from the data. Students can also rest assured that their assignments and grades will automatically sync. In addition, they can receive immediate feedback to identify strengths and weaknesses and guide learning.

  • Simplified Support Services: It aids in integrating the school’s existing ecosystem with multiple other systems and tools. However, students need to sign in to only one system to access the entire gamut of resources. 

  • Minimal Data Security Concerns: Compliance with the latest security model adopted by 1EdTech, based on industry best practices, ensures optimal user privacy and security. It not only protects sensitive data but also improves consistency between 1EdTech standards while enabling enhanced support for mobile implementations.

  • Ease of Procurement: It helps improve the digital learning ecosystem by making it more intuitive for educators. They get easy and real-time access to data to individually guide students in the right direction to maximize academic outcomes.

The LTI Standard and Why It Works

The 1EdTech LTI standard plays a vital role in quickly and securely connecting learning apps and tools with learning management systems on-site or in the cloud.

LTI has been a crucial part of the evolution of the digital learning ecosystem. Not only does it establish a secure connection and confirm the tool’s authenticity, but its extensions can also be used to add several features, such as facilitating the exchange of assignments and results between an assessment tool and the school’s LMS-based grade book.

The level of integration on the digital learning platform will depend on the version of LTI being used and the compliance of the learning app. With the right fit, users can access digital learning resources, apps, and tools within any LMS with a one-click, seamless connection.

Driving Innovation

LTI is helping to shape the new learning environment in several ways:

Strengthening the Teaching Approach

LTI-compliant digital learning platforms have enabled educational publishers and educators to focus more effectively on students’ learning outcomes. They can develop courseware, software, and web services at an institution and make them available for prompt use elsewhere. Students can access learning resources on multiple devices and platforms from anywhere and at any time.

Creating More Space for Personalized Learning

Under the personalized learning model, students benefit from learning at their own pace and preferred style while reducing learning gaps. COVID-19 has severely disrupted academic progress and worsened the longstanding disparities in educational outcomes between white students and students of color. But, the increasing use of digital learning tools has played a crucial role in ensuring inclusivity for students from all backgrounds and modifying the learning process to cater to their individual needs.

Improving Assessment Efficacy

Every educator understands the importance of tracking student progress. LTI allows them to deliver easy-to-administer formative, summative, adaptive, and standards-based assessments to evaluate the current academic level of each student. Thus, educators can ensure that the needs of students are properly catered to and necessary interventions are deployed at the right time.

Promoting Inclusivity

Ensuring digital equity has always been a big challenge for the education industry. It is estimated that nearly 35% of households in the United States with school-age children and an annual income of below $30,000 do not have access to high-speed internet. Students cannot be brought at par with learning if such disparity exists in access to learning resources. They are in dire need of access to authentic learning resources.

With the recent influx of federal dollars in the American Rescue Plan, more students will finally come online. And LTI will give them the advantage of accessing these resources on different platforms, even offline, once they are downloaded.

Transitioning to Outcome-based Education (OBE) and Competency-Based Education (CBE)

A robust LTI-compliant digital learning platform has proven immensely helpful in supporting OBE and CBE. For instance, educators have used these platforms to create adaptive assessments and offer detailed and actionable feedback on student performance on specific skills. It has helped them identify students’ strong and weak areas and empower them with practical skills.

Interoperability gives everyone in the industry access to a scalable ecosystem that can bring all the benefits of digital tools on a single platform. Educators, publishers, parents, and students, all stand to gain much from data interoperability to take education into the future.

 

About the Author
Sonia heads marketing for MagicBox, a SaaS platform by Magic EdTech that serves more than 6M users globally. Magic EdTech is a 1EdTech Contributing Member.

 

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