This is a very positive development for the ed-reform movement, but it strikes me as about as likely to succeed as a bank robber paying SunTrust to allow him to tunnel into the their safe. Sure they get $25K now, but they may find that down the road, people use the bank less often. SIS vendors have built nearly impenetrable walls around their systems, leveraging the fear and paranoia associated with issues such as student privacy and data security, because that allows them to continue extracting rents from their captive users, without having to innovate. Nimble start-ups like Clever, Learnsprout and others are creating ways to circumvent the stranglehold the SIS vendors have had on school districts, and it’s refreshing to learn that a Goliath like Pearson is willing to give a slingshot to a David, like Schoology. Fire away!
Originally posted on Gigaom:
Last year, we saw momentum build for open data in education with the launch of data startups LearnSprout and Clever, the creation of the non-profit Shared Learning Collaborative and the release of more government education datasets. But New York-based Schoology wants to step on the gas and is putting up $250,000 to do it.
On Tuesday, the company, which provides a cloud-based learning management system and social network for schools, said that it was challenging Student Information Systems (SISes) to create APIs (application programming interfaces) to promote the open exchange of data. To date, few SISes, which store all kinds of information about students — from grades and attendance records, to addresses and more — have released APIs. That means that when ed tech companies want to bring new tools to the classroom, they have to integrate with each district individually in a potentially tedious, weeks-long process. Clever and LearnSprout both address this issue by building APIs that connect SISes with developers, but while they can get data out of the SISes, they can’t yet support a two-way data exchange.
As part of its challenge, Schoology said it will issue a bounty of $25,000 for up to ten SIS vendors from now until May. If an SIS provides access to a Web API and Schoology can integrate its platform with it in 1o days or less, the vendor gets the money.