This is a guest post by Jim Farmer.
“Today the four firms providing electronic transcript services [to U.S. colleges and universities and school districts] have agreed to form a network so transcripts will be delivered to any user of their service regardless of where the transcript originated.” Speaking from hastily-written text, Larry Furth, Executive Director of the School Interoperability Framework Association (SAIFA) announced the agreement at the 5th Annual Conference on Technology & Standards in Washington, DC. The panel discussion on Emerging Standardization was delayed fifteen minutes as the four panelists reached agreement. The agreement is expected to be announced formally later this week. Mark Johnson, President of the National Transcript Center, John O’Connell, Senior Vice President of Business Development for Docufide, Craig Powell, President of ConnectEdu Inc., and J. Michael Thompson, Chief Executive Officer of XAP Corporation were speaking on Emerging Standardization Efforts and Trends.
J. Michael Thompson described the proposed network as “like ATM network with each of us a bank.” Mark Johnson said the network would use the SIFA [K-12] student record, PESC high school and postsecondary transcript specifications though most of the servicers would also support other specifications such as the earlier EDI specification. Craig Powell said students would benefit as the proposed network would speed transcripts to the final destination. When asked about the forthcoming European Higher Education Area transcript specification, Thompson said the network was open to additional data exchanges and formats. Similarly he said the HR-XML [education portion of the resume specification] could be supported if employers wanted to use the network.
Responding to questions by moderator Bill Hollowsky, SunGard Higher Education, the panel agreed Software As A Service (SAAS) was an emerging trend as colleges and universities outsourced administrative processing. Johnson said SaaS reduces implementation from “years to months.” Thompson said the simplicity of using a service was also driving adoption. Powell said service-oriented architecture was another trend and could influence the network.
Thompson also said the PESC electronic transcript had reached the “tipping point” where he expects the use to increase quickly.
Two of the firms—the National Transcript Center and XAP—reported processing 1.5 million transcripts per year in their comments.
PESC Board Member Andy Wood, Oracle Corporation, said such collaborative efforts bring improved service to colleges and universities at the same time costs may be reduced. He encouraged broad collaboration to leverage the value of the network.
PESC is sponsoring a briefing and discussion of the forthcoming European data standards late May in Washington, DC. When approved, the specification will be used in the 46-country European Higher Education Area. This includes 26 of the 27 EU countries and 20 non-EU countries. PESC Board member David Moldoff is participating in the Rome Student Systems and Standards Group drafting the XML-based de-facto specification for program and course description, transcript, academic history, and diploma supplement. The next workshop will be held in Stuttgart, Germany in October.