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The primary focus at each Technical Congress is to accurately capture feedback, comments and discussion from our growing and diverse group of stakeholders. Ultimately, the goal is to create an opportunity for the Ed-Fi Community to articulate, debate and discuss our most pressing issues, and to prioritize those issues.
We think about this a lot. Even more importantly, we think about how we can do this at scale while providing the tools that work for all users. Not surprisingly, as our Community grows, our list of challenges to solve does to.
- In 2017 we hosted 45 Community members for a one-day session, here in Austin at our first Tech Congress.
- In 2018 we hosted 135 Community members, for two-days with 16 sessions, with leadership from the AZ DoE in Scottsdale, AZ for the 2nd Tech Congress.
- This year, we hosted a sold out crowd of 185 Community members (with many more requesting to attend), over two and half days and 28 different session topics, alongside our partners at FL CODE in St. Petersburg, FL.
We love seeing and experiencing this growth! It's amazing to see the size and the scope of our Community and we are here for it, 100%. As we are embracing our growth trajectory, we also need to think how we keep everyone in the tent? Meet the needs of all of our stakeholders? And how can we deliver on an ambitious technology roadmap and timeline at the same time.?
Enter the Community Feedback Exercise
The challenge and the answer can both be found within the Community. Which is why we continued our popular community feedback exercise at this year's Tech Congress. We created a very low-tech solution to gathering feedback and ideas. Attendees were asked to write down any issues, problems or opportunities that they experience on sticky notes and to post those thoughts publicly on the boards stationed around the room. We invited Community members to speak up about their experiences so that the entire Ed-Fi Community could benefit.
After much discussion and lots of stickies we grouped them into themes (a total of 36!) and we asked attendees to lobby for issues they felt were the most important. Which ideas should we prioritize? Which problems should we work on first? The needs of the community are big, diverse and growing. As much as we'd like to solve all the challenges now, its not feasible. This is where clearly hearing what the Community wants is critical.
Each organization got 5 colored balls and we asked everyone to cast their votes for the themes that were most important to them. The themes that bubbled to the top (those with > 10 votes) are the areas where we will prioritize our time and attention. Beyond getting the Community to see weigh in on the issues they see are most important, the other benefit to this model is that we are actively and very visibly giving a voice to our technical Community. This is how we make decisions, out in the open, transparent, and at all times reflective and responsive to our users. Here's where we landed:
Below we’ve taken the top themes from the feedback exercise and indicated how we intend to follow up on them.
|Challenge Theme||What's Next||Tracking New Activity|
Raise quality of certification
The Alliance is working with the Governance Advisory Team to propose and define refinements to our certification program. We expect to have a comprehensive update on where this is landing at the Ed-Fi Summit. If you are interested in monitoring progress, follow EDFI-107.
The desire to enable community contributions towards documentation ranked number 2 in voting. EDFI-108 has been created to track actionable next steps. A "quick win" is to re-enable the "Questions" feature in TechDocs and recruit community moderators to monitor and answer questions.
|API Error Code Improvements|
We are following up on this item in two ways:
For more information, see Open Source Rules Engine and Validation Results API SIG.
NEW SIG: Open Source Rules Engine and Validation Results API
(1st meeting on May 30th)
Implement Notification API
Implement a Bulk JSON API
Community work group on data out
Three of the top-ranked themes are related to the general topic of "Data out of the ODS/API", and we plan to tackle these through the newly formed Strategies for Data Out from the ODS/API SIG. The SIG is a continuation of the Technical Congress session on this topic, and is expected to inform product roadmap investments to unlock data out use cases.
NEW SIG: Strategies for Data Out from the ODS/API
(1st meeting on June 6th)
|Extensions to security model||There are a number of ideas and options that should be considered as part of extensions to the ODS/API security model. EDFI-114 has been created to track progress against this theme.|
Tool to manage API secrets, claim sets, security admin
|A product backlog item has been created to enhance the ODS Admin App with increased functionality in the area of creating and modifying API claim sets. See EDFI-113 for more details.|
|Maintain Ed-Fi core support for a community visualization tool|
Through its governance process, the Alliance has affirmed that continued investment in a toolset that “lights up” the data standard, and is made available to the community for free as part of Ed-Fi Core, is important to deliver on two key strategic goals:
The Reporting and Visualization Work Group was established in late 2018 to focus on this topic, so interested community members should plan to participate in that work group.
|Reporting and Visualization Work Group|
|Support longitudinal data in core platform|
Support for longitudinal data is a topic that the Alliance and community has wrestled with over time, and it is evident that this is still a high priority topic for the community. EDFI-110 is intended to provide links to prior information and lessons learnt, and to track the status of ongoing investments in the ecosystem.
Use open source toolkits in core platform
|The announcement of “Project Roadrunner” during the Technology Roadmap session is a tangible and significant investment from the Alliance in support of this theme. See Project Roadrunner: PostgreSQL support for the Ed-Fi ODS/API for more details. In addition EDFI-119 has been created to track general progress towards this goal.|
Project Roadrunner: PostgreSQL Support for the Ed-Fi ODS / API
|Improved documentation & support|
There are a number of improvements that can be made towards improved documentation and support, and EDFI-115 will track investments in this area. Individual suggestions within this theme can be grouped into 3 buckets:
The full list of issues suggested by the community and voted on can be found here.
Follow up from Tech Congress Sessions
In addition to the plenary discussions and StickIt exercises, there are a number of several activities underway that were discussed during Technical Congress sessions, and highlighted below:
|Tech Congress Session||Description||Tracking New Activity|
Governance is taking root at Ed-Fi! This year, we had sessions focused on the work being done within the Assessment, Finance, and Reporting & Visualization work groups, as well as start-up meetings for two additional groups being formed in 2019, i.e. Special Education and Teacher Preparation. The Governance Advisory Team also had their monthly meeting at the Technical Congress, and we thanked the outgoing member of the Technical Advisory Group, and welcomed the incoming members, who will serve for 12 months. If you have a general question regarding Ed-Fi governance, send an email to email@example.com.
One of the topics that the GAT discussed was around Ed-Fi integration with Google Classroom. You can read details regarding this in the GAT meeting notes. There was consensus within the GAT that this is an interesting use case that is worth exploring further with the Ed-Fi community, and to that end, the Alliance is establishing a special interest group to convene interested parties and further document the use case and identify potential options for a solution. For more details see the Ed-Fi Integration with Google Classroom SIG.
NEW WG: Special Education Work Group
NEW WG: Teacher Prep Data Model Work Group
NEW SIG: Ed-Fi Integration with Google Classroom
(1st meeting on June 13th)
|Ed-Fi Technology Roadmap||The technology roadmap overview was planned as regular session but was so popular that it was standing room only and will be moved to more of a plenary style in 2020. Everyone is encouraged to review the roadmap presentation, and monitor the Technology Roadmap, which is updated quarterly.||Archive - Ed-Fi Technology Roadmap 2021|
|Bootcamp Labs||Four bootcamps labs were held, focused on advanced technical topics. If you were not able to attend the bootcamp sessions labs at the technical congress, the lab materials are available for you to follow on your own.|
LAB: Installing & Using the Analytics Middle Tier
LAB: Using the ODS/API Admin App to Populate Learning Standards
|ODS-ODS Data Flows||The ODS-ODS Data Flows session was lively and a number of strong opinions were voiced. Since the technical congress, the plans to implement a variation of option 6 (API Sync Agent) have been further developed as part of the California CORE project. The design can be found here, and we anticipate that the solution will be published to the Ed-Fi Exchange towards the end of 2019.||ODS-ODS Connector design|
Presentations and session notes for all of the sessions can be found on TechDocs at 2019 Technical Congress.
This year’s Technical Congress was jam-packed with discussion on a number of hard problems. Sessions were lively, full of discussion and interaction, sold out attendance and the feedback from the stick it to Ed-Fi sessions gave us plenty to ponder and add to the backlog. St. Pete beach was beautiful and the weather amazing, and a huge thank you to Florida CODE for hosting us this year! Stay tuned for Tech Congress 2020 and as always we'd love your feedback every step of the way.
See you at the Summit,
--Ed-Fi Tech Team