Articles

PESC and Interoperability of Academic Records in the Education Domain

Jack Weber, Executive Vice President

February 24, 2016

Established in 1997 and located in Washington, D.C., the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC) is a non-profit, community-based, umbrella association of data, software and education technology service providers; local, state and federal government agencies; schools, college and universities; college, university and state systems; professional, commercial and non-profit organizations; and, national and international non-profit associations and foundations.1 Credentials Solutions has been a member of PESC since 2011 and supports the various standards that have been developed over the years.  Credentials is a corporate partner and Diamond Sponsor of PESC and Jim Wager, from Credentials, currently sits on the Board of Directors.

In December 2011 PESC appointed a new task force, Common Data Services (CDS) to examine the application of standards of delivered data and documents.  The mission of the taskforce is to improve security, reliability, efficiency and speed in the transfer of all educational data types.  The EdExchange is the first project of the CDS Task Force and has a mission statement of developing an open web services network and associated standards to benefit the education of students, streamline processes for institutions, and facilitate the advancement of services offered on behalf of academic institutions.  Credentials Solutions has representation on the Steering Committee for EdExchange as a “Super User”. 

The developed model mostly parallels the DNS business model – a directory service that identifies end-points on the network. As a fully active member in PESC, Credentials Solutions will become one of those end-points on the network, representing those participants in the Credentials’ TranscriptsNetwork™ who have opted in for being able to exchange academic payloads through the EdExchange.  This means that any approved data set will be able to be delivered through the EdExchange including, but not limited to, traditional academic transcripts, competency-based transcripts, experiential transcripts, diplomas, certificates, badges, etc. The EdExchange will be payload agnostic.

What does all this mean?  It means that academic information will become more accessible and “interoperable” for those entities that consume and depend on secure, efficient and trusted data.  It will be quicker, trackable, more convenient, greener and much more economical for all concerned.  Participating institutions or their providers will be able to develop automated interfaces to Student Information Systems, which will eliminate manual data entry, improve on errors and omissions and expedite the entire transfer credit operation for users on the system.  Credentials has been automating the front end of the credentialing process since 2003.  During that time, we have seen the benefit in each of the Registrar’s Offices that we represent as staff are freed up to work directly with students rather than entering data, checking for holds, printing and mailing documents.  Their work now becomes much more mission critical.

The electronic interchange will also support transaction sets that will improve communications between senders and receivers that will eliminate countless man hours responding to phone calls checking on the status of an order.  The next hurdle which is actively in progress right now here at Credentials will be to complete the interoperability for the back-of-the-house processing.  Under the guidance of PESC and the collaboration with other providers supporting EdExchange, this will become a reality in the not too distant future.

1 Mission and History - PESC. Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council, n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2016. <http://www.pesc.org/interior.php?page_id=156>.
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