In what promises to be one of the major developments in education for 2012, educators and researchers throughout the U.S. are embracing a new system known as the Ed-Fi™ project to improve the classroom experience. The project is the brainchild of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and aims to make collecting, analyzing and sharing education data simpler and quicker.
Seen as a watershed move by many that will allow educators and researchers to access information on kindergarten through 12th grade from state and local systems, the Ed-Fi project may well prove to be the impetus for integrating technology into the classroom in an innovative and productive way. Essentially, Ed-Fi works in a similar way to an ATM system in that it can access data from various storage systems to tailor the classroom experience to the strengths of students – data concerning grades, reports, standardized test scores, special education information and demographics can be translated into a simplified format using the software’s interface.
Less than a year since its launch in July 2011, Ed-Fi is now being used by a third of teachers and students across the United States to seamlessly exchange knowledge between schools, districts and states. A large part of this success is due to the system’s ability to employ data and standards already in place, meaning there’s no need to duplicate the work needed to collect the data in the first place.
What’s more, being a vendor-neutral standard means that Ed-Fi does not involve using packaged software. There’s a discreet nod to the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation at the foot of the user interface, but the system can be implemented without employing particular software, hardware or operating systems. Further good news for potential users is that it’s completely free in its licensing and usage, though only time will tell if third-party vendors modify the service somewhat and begin charging for it.