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January 11
The Student Data Privacy Consortium (SDPC) welcomes Follett

​The Student Data Privacy Consortium (SDPC) is proud to announce our newest member – Follett Corp.  Follett partners with PreK-12 educators at every level, from the district down to the individual classroom. They support education by getting the right products, books, and technology in the hands of administrators, teachers, staff, and students. 

 

The Student Data Privacy Consortium, facilitated by the Access 4 Learning (A4L) Community, is a collaborative with representatives from a diverse set learning organizations, governmental agencies, vendors and providers, focuses on operationalizing the complex and high-profile privacy and security issues surrounding safeguarding student data. The consortium is focused on providing tangible solutions to address operational issues schools and vendors experience every day. This work leverages other work going on by the cadre of organizations working in the student data privacy space but this work is tactical and focused on implementation.
 
To find out more about the SDPC, please visit: https://privacy.A4L.org
January 05
A4L announce strategic partnership with K12 Federation

​The Access 4 Learning Community is proud to announce a strategic partnership agreement with the K12 Federation “to collaborate with the objective of furthering the adoption and evolution of standards in the solution of education sector information technology challenges”.  This reciprocal membership agreement and strategic alliance will help support the both organization’s desire to support an expert community to share ideas, resources and innovate - for K12 by K12.

 
"We are thrilled to form this partnership with K12 Federation." states A4L Community CEO/Exec Director, Larry Fruth II Ph.D.  "This is a great step forward in achieving the revised mandate from the A4L Community Board of Directors, which was to recognize strategic partnerships and help the marketplace utilize open standards, no matter where they originate.  We look forward to an exciting year ahead, which will benefit both organizations and their members!"
 
More information about the K12 Federation: http://www.k12federation.org/home
December 14
Access 4 Learning (A4L) Community Elects 2016 Australian Leadership

The Access 4 Learning (A4L) Community, formerly the SIF Association is proud to announce the election results for the Australian Management and Australian Technical Boards for 2017. The Management Board brings a wealth of experience and knowledge in education, data management, technology and business acumen. As members of the Board, each individual will be assisting in providing strategic direction, management and oversight for the affairs of the A4L Community for Australia.

 
Elected 2017 A4L Community AU Management Board supplier members are:
  • Tim Dawson, Synergectic
  • Grant Grosser, SEQTA Software
  • Antony Mawer, Sentral Education
  • Colin Wood, Verso Learning
 
The AU Community also approved members of the AU Technical Board (known as the Data Standards Working Group (DSWG)), who provide technical oversight for the SIF AU Specification. The 2017 DSWG supplier representatives are:
  • Lance Duivenbode, SEQTA Software
  • James Hamilton, Sentral Education
  • Joerg Huber, Systemic
  • Stuart Mitchell, Verso Learning
  • James Overell, Synergetic
  • Mark Vanderkley, SIMON Schools
  • Renier Venter, Civica
 
Commenting on the outcome of the elections and plans for the year ahead, the new Chair of the A4L AU Management Board Dave Burns (Executive Director Web and Digital Delivery, Department of Education and Training (Qld)) stated, “On both the management and technical boards we have a valuable mixture of experience and fresh perspectives.  This bodes well for the progressive implementation across K-12 education in Australia of a learning services architecture based on SIF which is supported by both education authorities and key IT product suppliers.”
 
To view the full press release, please click here.
December 12
2017 Elections: Nominations open!

​Nominations for the North American (NA) Management Board and At-Large Technical Board are now available.  Nominations will be open until January 27, 2017.  We will be using a virtual election tool and all nominations must be submitted electronically. 

 

Please consider nominating yourself, or a colleague to run for one of these leadership positions.  Members can find further information from the Community Site here (login required).
December 01
North American 2017 Elections: Announcement to Membership

​The Access 4 Learning (A4L) Community has continued to have phenomenal leadership over the past year.  The leadership, guidance and overall dedication to the Community prove critical to our collective successes. With the upcoming Annual Meeting, it is hard to believe that it is time for elections again!  Nominations for the North American Management Board and At-Large Technical Board will be available from 12 December 2016 -27 January 2017 (inclusive).
 
The Management Board is elected for two-year terms.  This year there will be five (5) seats open for the Management Board.  To be eligible to run for the Management Board, the individuals shall be at least eighteen (18) years old and be A4L Community Voting Participants or employed by or representing an A4L Community Voting Participant and duly authorized to represent that A4L Community Voting Participant, but need not be residents of the District of Columbia.  An A4L Community Voting Participant Member institution (including associated subsidiaries of an A4L Community Voting Participant) may have at most one representative on the Management Board at one time.


The At-Large Technical Board is elected for a one-year term.  There are four (4) seats open for the At-Large Technical Board members.  At-Large Technical Board members must be A4L Community Voting Participants or employed by or represent an A4L Community Voting Participant and duly authorized to represent that A4L Community Voting Participant.
 
You can download the policies and procedures for the Annual Elections as outlined by the Elections Committee on the A4L Community Site here (login required).
 
For the 2017 A4L Community North American Annual Election process, the following dates apply:

1 December 2016     Announcement to membership that elections will occur
12 December 2016   Nominations open
27 January 2017        Nominations close
7 February 2017       Elections Committee convenes to confirm ballot
8 February 2017       Ballot released
27 February 2017     Voting closes at 5:00 pm Eastern
27 February 2017     Elections Committee convenes to confirm results
28 February 2017     Elections results announced during the NA 2017 Annual Meeting
 
We will use a virtual election tool and all nominations must be submitted electronically.  The Primary Business Contact will be the official vote for each A4L Community Voting Participant, unless a designee is provided.  Please contact Penny Murray, pmurray@A4L.org, to confirm your Primary Business Contact, or organization ‘designee’ for the 2017 NA Elections.
 
We will send out information to submit your nomination beginning on 12 December 2016.  Please consider nominating yourself, asking someone to nominate you or nominate someone else to run for one of these leadership positions within the A4L Community!
November 30
 “Just the Facts”:  SIF Specification Usage in the Education Marketplace

The Access 4 Learning Community (A4L) Community, previously the SIF Association, has changed its brand name due to the fact that the majority of its participating organizations representing schools, regional agencies, and government entity members now wear more than just “data manager” job titles.  That does not mean that the A4L Community is not continuing its ongoing development of the SIF Specifications to promote interoperability between applications and enable the mantra “enter once and use many times”. 

 

Some in the educational marketplace attempt to dismiss SIF utilization to promote their own work.  To address this misinformation, the A4L Community recently developed and disseminated a brief usage survey, which was sent to marketplace providers and LEA/SEA data leaders. Even with a short timeframe (2 weeks) and small response (16 survey responses representing 23 of the largest marketplace products) the impact numbers depict the continued usage and growth of the SIF Specifications.  The Survey results indicate:
  •  SIF-Enabled applications are in place and operating in every US state
    • There are at least 12 statewide implementations utilizing SIF interoperability representing over 11 million students in 4,100 school districts with 810,000 teachers
  • Non-statewide implementations utilizing SIF interoperability represents over 2.5 million students in 1,000 school districts
  • The majority of applications utilizing SIF Specifications are using it for horizontal interoperability with more than one “connection” to another application
  • Major application types using SIF Specifications include collaboration, course management, food service, grade book, human resource/finance, library, student information systems, transportation and special education applications.
 
To provide and accurate depiction of specification utilization and address inaccurate marketplace information, the A4L Community is proud to release the SIF Utilization Survey.  This quick and concise overview of SIF implementation data points can be accessed numerous ways:
 
To read the full press release, please click here.
November 16
Educational Technical Standards 101 – Why Are They So Complicated?

The educational marketplace is nearing its 20th year of numerous standards organizations initiated to address the lack of technical blueprints to help support software development, implementation, usage and ideally customer choice.  During this period, numerous organizations and marketplace providers have attempted to detail the commonalities and differences between the standards communities and their blueprints – some of these papers in great detail. To address this, the Access 4 Learning (A4L) Community is proud to release the simplified ‘Educational Technical Standards 101’.

 

Questions continue to come to the Community relating to “which standard do I use for what functionality?” and/or “don’t all the standards do the same thing?”  To address this, the A4L Community is proud to release Educational Technical Standards 101.  This quick and concise overview of standards and the organizations that develop them, can be accessed numerous ways:
 
Education Standards 101 Slide Deck:
Educational Standards 101 video animation: https://youtu.be/62GhPiBF090

 

To read the full press release, please click here.

October 28
Call for Volunteers

​The A4L Community are seeking Community Members to serve on the North American (NA) Elections Committee. As a Committee member you will be helping the A4L Community by overseeing the election process, assisting in conducting the election process and reviewing the policies and procedures on behalf of the Association members.

For the 2017 SIF Association NA Annual Election process, there will be three (3) Committee meetings scheduled.  If you are interested in serving on the NA Elections Committee, please contact Penny Murray by Thursday 17 November 2016.
October 27
Australian A4L Community helping mobilise student data and supporting learners and teachers

The Access 4 Learning (A4L) Community is delighted to announce the release of the SIF Implementation Specification (Australia) 3.4 to the educational marketplace.  This release is an update to the SIF Implementation Specification (Australia) 1.4 and is only supported by the SIF 3.x (global) infrastructure.  It includes support for the latest national and jurisdictional projects as well as changes to the patterning of schemas to align with the global approach.

 

The SIF Implementation Specification (Australia) 3.4 release reflects the continued engagement of the AU education technology community with the SIF standard, and contains several updates and enhancements that support the ongoing benefits end users have come to expect from the standard. Changes include updates for the Australian Schools List and additions requested by the Catholic Education Office Melbourne (ICON project) and the New South Wales Department of Education and Training (Family/Household) as well as changes to further support third party integration.
 
October 19
Integrating APIs from various sources to standardize data flows for Student Record Exchange and improve learner outcomes

The Access 4 Learning (A4L) Community is proud to showcase the developments of its members promoting the true meaning of open standards and interoperability for the benefit of the educational marketplace – no matter where those standards originate!  Working together, A4L Community Members Puget Sound Education Service District (PSESD), Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and CedarLabs are making the idea of real-time, secure student records transfer a reality.

 

Peter Tamayo, Chief Information Officer, OSPI noted “States like Washington need flexible and open technology solutions in education to help improve student achievement. The walls between the standards developing organizations are coming down as states and districts demand cooperation in the marketplace. The SRE is a great example of we can work together to benefit students.” 
 
To read the press release, please click here.
To read the Case Study, please click here.
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