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|About the A4L Community|
There is no other global community made up of educational policymakers, marketplace product and service providers and the customers they serve, collaborating daily to address real world learning information and resource issues.
The Access 4 Learning (A4L) Community, previously the SIF Association, is a unique, non-profit collaboration composed of schools, districts, local authorities, states, US and International Ministries of Education, software vendors and consultants who collectively address all aspects of learning information management and access to support learning. The A4L Community is “Powered by SIF” Specifications as its major technical tool to allow for this management and access simply, securely and in a scalable, standard way regardless of the platform hosting those applications. The Access 4 Learning Community has united these education technology end users and providers in an unprecedented effort to give teachers more time to do what they do best: teach.
Education is a complex activity that is part science and part art…
With this in mind, education, parents, and school administrators must have access to state-of-the-art tools populated with up-to-date information in order to make effective use of a myriad of diverse resources. These resources, when combined effectively produce an effective learning environment for all students. Seamless integration of a broad a spectrum of instructional, administrative and communication tools is an essential foundation for an environment that addresses the needs of all learners. Students, teachers, and institutions have different needs, requiring solutions to be customizable and scalable.
Adoption of new processes and technologies driven by these solutions must accommodate existing procedures and infrastructure. Long term, sustainable change is systemic in nature and involves consecutive successful steps designed and implemented through collaboration between public and private sector stakeholders.
Background Information and International History
In response to demand from educators, a series of meetings began in July 1998 between Microsoft Corporation in partnership with 18 other companies, on the topic of interoperability between education applications. Their primary conclusion was that the best solution was for interested parties to collectively define standards that all software vendors could adopt. These standards would define common data formats, naming conventions, and rules of interaction between applications. These informal meetings became the SIF Association, which was officially launched in a speech by Bill Gates on 22 February 1999.
The SIF Association (now the Access 4 Learning Community) was initiated with a set of data, infrastructure and support working groups which have evolved over time but which generally correspond to application verticals within the education sector. Today, Functional Groups are actively involved in specification development and interoperability implementations. The Access 4 Learning Community is global in nature, made up of established and recognized communities in the Australia, United Kingdom and North America. Each entity maintains a Technical Board, comprised of the co-chairs of the various Functional Groups as well as a local Management Board, all under the general guidance of the Access 4 Learning Community Board of Directors. Much of the Community’s work is accomplished online and via monthly or bi-monthly conference calls, although face-to-face meetings are also scheduled--with an Annual meeting (including Board elections) occurring each year.
If you have a specific question, we are always keen to talk, so please Contact Us.
For additional help and information, why not consider joining the A4L Community?
As a member you can access additional support from our Staff and Community members, gain full access to the Community Site and get involved in specific areas of interest to you, get discounted registration at our events, and help to define the SIF Specification to meet YOUR needs!