As schools and districts rely more on digital tools, especially with online and blended learning becoming a necessity, the importance of a smooth, streamlined experience is heightened. But when software products are fragmented and don’t communicate with each other, a teacher’s time can be wasted with labor-intensive tasks, manually entering the same data within multiple programs, or trying to pull together cohesive data from various systems.

According to Digital Promise, 74% of districts use more than 26 different education technology products and another 17% of districts use over 100. When teachers have to maneuver between so many products, it makes sense that studies show only 42% of a teacher’s workday — which averages 10 hours, 40 minutes — is spent teaching in the classroom.

(Photo courtesy PowerSchool.)

Education technology interoperability — when different products communicate and share data cohesively — can streamline a teacher’s day, as well as give them more insightful data from multiple sources. In addition to fostering a healthy tech ecosystem and giving teachers a complete view of students with shared data, interoperability can make the school day more productive so teachers can focus on students.

Here are three ways you can improve a teacher’s day through a more efficient, smoother — and interoperable — experience.

1. Interoperability makes it easier to use data in the classroom.

When products connect and share student data, teachers save time when they don’t have to pull information from multiple sources manually. They get a more holistic view of the student, which results in more efficient and informed decision-making. Teachers can quickly see all information for the student or class, like grades, assessments, attendance, and more in one dashboard. The result is that they’re better prepared to make sound decisions for instruction, including personalized learning choices.

2. Interoperability makes it easier to adopt, learn and use new technology.

Adapting to change with new technology can be frustrating for teachers, and it’s not uncommon for products to go unused after a short trial period. But when products connect through interoperability, or share the same user experience or interface, it can be much easier for teachers and students to adopt, and then learn and use the products. 

3. Interoperability saves teachers and students time with a simpler workflow.

A significant benefit of an interoperable system is saved time, starting with single sign-on. With one login, you can “set it and forget it,” says Jerome Ohnui, data specialist at Troy School District in New York. “Teachers and students can log onto necessary resources right away instead of waiting for manual uploads and memorizing yet another credential combination.”

It can also save tech directors and staff time and frustration when their schools are using interoperable ed tech products. “I can focus on bigger problems and fixing broken things rather than having my time eaten up by the minutiae of things that can and should be automated in the 21st Century,” says Ohnui.

But how do you know if your ed tech products are interoperable?

While many ed tech vendors claim to integrate with a wide range of products, one way to be sure is to check with the leading organizations working towards interoperability. These include Ed-Fi Alliance and IMS Global. PowerSchool has IMS Global support in several products, including PowerSchool Schoology Learning (OneRoster, LTI, Common Cartridge), Performance Matters Assessment and Analytics (LTI, QTI), and PowerSchool SIS and eSchoolPLUS (OneRoster).

The difference between a productive, positive, interoperable experience using communicative products with a shared dashboard, compared to a fragmented, frustrating, time-consuming — and ultimately unproductive — experience can be immense.

For more details and to learn if you have the right, interoperable tech tools in place, visit our in-depth blog post here.

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