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Ed-Fi Compliant Data Exchange vs. Custom Data Warehouses

Not too long ago, data exchange standards didn’t exist in academia. And, custom data warehouses were unheard of. Generally, teachers had to log in to multiple systems to access student data, assessment tools, and progress reports. Each of these systems had individual login credentials and user interfaces.

Luckily, all of that has changed. Academic institutions handle and produce lots of data daily, hence the need for a single data repository. Today, educators can log in to one system to access academic data from multiple sources, thanks to the Ed-Fi platform.

What Is Ed-Fi Compliant Data Exchange (CDX)?

Specifically, Ed-Fi CDX is an open-source platform that allows education stakeholders to collect, preserve, and analyze data from multiple sources. It enables essential academic info to be gathered and stored in a single system. It also allows individual states and school districts to maintain complete control of this data. Stakeholders can access the system through a series of ODS, Ed-Fi API, plugins, and a dashboard.

The platform was developed with input from the U.S. Department of Education, local and state education agencies, and educators.

Pros Of Ed-Fi CDX

Combining all this data into one system certainly has its perks:

  • Real-time monitoring of student performance can be used to calibrate classroom instruction to improve student performance
  • Its open-source nature enables custom-made versions of the platform to be created
  • Offers flexible implementation options: data centers, cloud-based ODS, Microsoft Azure, or Amazon AWS
  • Timely report submission hence better data collection and analysis, saving time and improving decision making
  • Provides easy, efficient, and streamlined access and exchange of data between disparate systems
  • Supports interoperability or integrations with disparate systems

Cons of Ed-Fi CDX

Nevertheless, large concentrations of data in a single system can prove challenging for an institution:

  • It’s expensive and has a high overhead due to the sheer volume of incoming data
  • Vendors custom-mold the Ed-Fi system to create low-level, high volume, and complex data ecosystems that don’t truly live up to the goal of complete interoperability.
  • Violation of privacy, choice, and consent in the collection, access, and sharing of individual data to 3rd parties as stipulated by the GDPR
  • Under the principle of data integrity, security safeguards such as anonymization and de-identification of data make it harder for cross source sharing and new data incorporation.
  • There’s little or no accountability for non-compliance with privacy rules and the misuse of data.
  • It increases the chances of cybersecurity threats such as ransomware and solicitation.

How Custom Data Warehouses Work

Academic institutions have various complex data processing systems, each requiring different people to operate. This sheer volume of data can be overwhelming to anyone managing it, creating the demand for a data warehouse within the institution.

Data warehousing is based on the OLAP system. The latter enables the storage, filtration, and retrieval of large amounts of data using SQL queries. For a more personalized touch and to meet an institution’s unique data needs, a custom data warehouse may be a good option.

How It Operates

There are various stages data goes through in the data warehouse:

  1. Data collection from multiple sources such as databases and transactional systems
  2. The ETL (extract, transform, load) process fetches, normalizes, and unifies the data
  3. Storage in the warehouse
  4. Data retrieval, cleansing, and analysis

SQL queries filter only the data a teacher needs to view, thus optimizing data retrieval. Additionally, the institution can opt for a data mart (a scaled-down version of a data warehouse) that aggregates data for specific users for academic intelligence purposes.

Benefits Of Custom Data Warehouses

While a data warehouse won’t prevent hardware and software issues at your institution, the innovations used can:

  • Significantly optimize the majority of your institution’s processes
  • Provide lighting fast and advanced results using SQL queries
  • Help in accessing and retrieving historical info for in-depth insights
  • Include report templates for faster and easier reporting
  • Serve as a solid platform for data analytics and custom reporting without the need to constantly “shop” for your data
  • Produce filtered, clustered data that you can export to a location of your choosing
  • Improve the quality of data by counterchecking and cleansing before storage to the warehouse core

Custom Data Warehouse Over Ed-Fi CDX

Ed-Fi CDX is becoming popular among academic institutions across the country. However, many states and school districts still lack the budgetary capabilities to implement it. In most cases, a custom data warehouse may prove to be the best option.

At Entrance, we understand the enormous volumes of academic data your institution handles daily and the need for optimal storage and retrieval. Talk to us today, so our experts can develop a custom data warehouse that’ll meet all your unique data needs.

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