A Call For Interoperability

“Regardless of whether a product is free or paid, what’s essential is that it works well within a larger ecosystem designed by educators to promote student success.” -- Stephen Laster In a recent post on EdSurge, Stephen Laster, the Chief Digital Officer of McGraw Hill, argued in favor of an interoperable ed tech universe. He envisions a world where ed tech platforms work together seamlessly, saving teachers time and money while helping students go deeper in their learning.

He notes that people often conflate “open” and “free,” and that a “more useful definition of open is technology or content that can integrate painlessly with other resources.” His core argument is this: It’s important that ed tech systems integrate with each other, because “technologies that live within closed systems create roadblocks in students’ learning pathways...add[ing] complexity and cost.” He continues, “I rarely meet a committed teacher who simultaneously wants to be the IT helpdesk and systems integrator for his or her classroom. Those are too many demands.”

The same is true for teacher effectiveness platforms. When systems don’t talk to each other, administrative time and resources are spent recreating the same data in multiple systems -- time and money that could be spent on, say, personalized PD.

Laster argues that to make this happen “existing stakeholders to agree on standards.” This means that users and vendors need to come together to decide on the rules that would allow these platforms to talk to each other. Openness is a core value at Whetstone, and we’re on board to move toward this world.

What do you think? How have closed systems impeded your work? On the other hand, what are the potential pitfalls of “too much” openness?

Libby Fischer is CEO of Whetstone Education.