by Monterey Sims, Director Admissions and Evaluation, University of Phoenix, and AACRAO SPEEDE Committee member
Bright and early on Tuesday, July 16, I attended an exciting presentation at the AACRAO Technology and Transfer Conference that gives me hope for increased adoption of electronic data exchange across our industry. The session was presented by Mark McConahay (Indiana University and current VP of IT for AACRAO), Shelby Stanfield (National Student Clearinghouse and former Registrar of UT Austin), and Joey LaConte (University of Colorado Boulder and AACRAO SPEEDE Committee Chair). The panel of experts explained that electronic data exchange adoption, while robustly used by several hundred institutions, has not been implemented across our higher education landscape as rapidly or fully as expected.
The technology is not new. As a matter of fact, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) has been available for decades and extensible markup language (XML) has also been around for quite some time. Unfortunately, the technology implementations in higher education institutions has hit a plateau due to a number of factors, including a lack of technology resources and the rise of PDFs. At the same time, today’s higher ed landscape reflects increased student mobility and the advent of the Comprehensive Learner Record, micro-credentials, and competency-based education. These initiatives make it a perfect time to reignite electronic data exchange efforts.
Looking at the standards already in place, such as EDI and XML, the folks at National Student Clearinghouse, which manages the free and open SPEEDE Server, are beginning to engage in a conversation with AACRAO about building a converter to translate EDI to XML and vice versa. This could solve an age-old problem that occurs between trading partners when the sender and receiver data format is different (e.g., the sender uses XML and the receiver only can accept EDI into their system or process). It would also benefit new adopters of electronic data exchange, freeing them up to focus on whichever format suits them best without worrying that only a limited number of institutions can accept their data. The concept also paves the way for other file types (e.g., JSON) to be translated used and converted in the future. In addition, there was a call to explore a text-based standard to be developed in addition to current data exchange standards in an effort to reduce the perceived heavy development lift.
AACRAO SPEEDE anticipated these obstacles to adoption and began working on mapping rules between the EDI and XML formats several years ago. They also completed a proof of concept on a small-scale conversion program. The hope is that, as a community, we can collaborate on this initiative and make it available to the education community as another free and open resource. Watch for more details about this exciting initiative!
National Student Clearinghouse Free and Open SPEEDE Server - https://speedeserver.org/
AACRAO Electronic Data Exchange - http://www.aacrao.org/resources/electronic-records-data-exchange
AACRAO SPEEDE Committee – email@example.com
PESC Free and Open Standards - https://www.pesc.org/pesc-approved-standards.html