The time-intensive process of syncing data between a student information system (SIS) and tech applications is complex. But it is a worthwhile process. With accessible data comes visibility into students' successes, struggles and—most importantly—their needs..
In this article, we’re going to discuss several of the common themes and problems surrounding SIS integration. And our approach to solving those problems in our product: Elevate Data Sync. We'll discuss an SIS Integration example, common problems during an SIS Integration, and how Elevate Data Sync solves SIS problems.
An SIS Integration Example
Data interoperability in U.S. schools matters now more than ever. Schools have grown to expect that applications are able to handle data integration. For years, education vendors have been figuring out how to integrate with over 30 different student information systems and their respective integration methods and data models.
One example for how to think of an SIS Integration is like plumbing, connecting the sink to the water.
In order for school districts to run smoothly, a student information system needs to pass data like student information, course enrollment, and teacher information to other systems, like the LMS.
In the instance of Canvas LMS, we use the data we receive from the SIS to automatically create courses and populate them with students and teachers – allowing for an intuitive user experience and empowering schools with the information they need to successfully drive instruction.
Common Problems During SIS Integration
Student information system (SIS) integrations are a pain point for districts everywhere.
Many districts have poor SIS integration because the systems don’t understand each others’ data formats and can’t easily sync data cross-platform.
Often, school district administrators are burdened with moving the data back and forth between systems; they have to manually push gigantic Excel files. But grabbing data collections from 15 different systems that students and teachers may be using takes a lot of time. And often you don't get that data until after the semester ends, when it’s too late to use it to support students.
And then every time a new SIS update happens, there’s a risk that something somewhere along the data pipeline has broken.
How Elevate Data Sync Solves SIS Integration Problems
Here at Instructure, we believe in creating products that comprehensively serve educators so that they can celebrate student successes and meet their needs. So, when we acquired Elevate Data Sync (formerly Kimono), it was with the intention of solving SIS integration problems facing school districts.
Now, Elevate Data Sync makes SIS support efficient in the following ways:
- Feeds data from any SIS to other edtech systems regularly
- Takes the burden off of the district (especially during busy seasons like the beginning of semesters when an SIS is regularly updated)
- Centralizes monitoring and troubleshooting
- Maps data for each school in a district
- Supports industry standards like OneRoster, Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF), and Learning Information Services (LIS).
Elevate Data Sync also provides standards-based grade passback; that is the ability to pass student grades from a system back to an SIS. With grade passback, schools and districts can get grades very easily and timely. And they can report back much more quickly and effectively on the data.
And it's not even just the ease—the grades can go to the SIS at the end of the term automatically.
Now, with Elevate Data Sync, grade data isn’t stuck in different, individual systems where schools can't get it out and can't do anything with it in any meaningful way.
Administrators can quickly gain insights like where they have challenges, where they need to make interventions, where they are seeing successes and how to repeat those successes.
Elevate Data Sync also reduces the burden on teachers.
They don't have to worry about their rosters being incorrect, or wonder how to get grades to a student information system at the end of the term. They can rely on that automatic transfer. Because teachers already have a full workload – removing this manual burden allows them to focus on teaching.
Elevate Data Sync takes the heavy lifting out of integrating technologies and getting relevant, timely student data to educators. It allows for innovation and is one critical step toward taming the interoperability beast in education.