Source: IEC Blog (

Technology touches most aspects of daily life and brings many benefits to diverse fields, including education and training. For example, it can lower costs and adapt applications and programmes to individual needs and preferences.

“If more people have access to high quality educational resources and tools, it becomes easier to meet the goal of UN SDG 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. With support of standards, technology has the potential of meeting these requirements within education,” said Overby, during the International Conference on Sustainable Development (ICSD) this week.

Overby is Chair of ISO/IEC SC 36 for Learning, Education and Training (ITLET), and participated in the session on ICT standards for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SC 36 standardization activities, which cover all aspects from formal education within schools and higher education, to training within industry and lifelong learning.

COVID 19 has put the spotlight on tech for education

COVID-19 caused governments to close schools and tertiary institutions overnight, and rethink how to deliver education. It also raised questions, such as how equipped are learning institutions to carry out entire curriculums remotely and how will learners be assessed, and teaching happen in this new set up? How do families without the appropriate hardware and/or an Internet connection manage? Seven months on, we live with the pandemic and its spikes.

“The education sector wasn’t ready for COVID 19, which forced schools, universities and training institutions to go virtual. The learning curve has been steep, but the pandemic has raised awareness of how IT can help education and that people can learn anywhere, so long as they have access to internet and appropriate technology and teachers who are prepared to teach them virtually. We also anticipate that the increased use of on-line tools will have an impact on how schools organize their education when the COVID 19 pandemic are under control.”

Benefits of global education standards

As IT becomes an integrated part of all aspects of our educational systems, there is an increased need for systems to exchange information about their learners, educators, curriculums, learning goals, grades and badges, achievements, attendance, and all other aspects of the schools activities, And support educators, while following learners as their education evolves in different educational institutions.

Global standards for interoperability between systems would mean that providers would only need to create one integration point for each service. This would lower costs and increase flexibility when choosing a service provider.

“In the longer run we’ll see the huge benefits of technology that supports teachers, students, parents and schools by providing tools that can be tailored to specific needs. There will be more vendors of educational IT tools and apps, more data being produced and more students. The ecosystem will need to have commonalities and we will need standards to ensure these tools are interoperable across institutions,” said Overby.

Important recommendation to the education sector

If global standards are to be implemented, school owners and ministries of education must request that standards are followed by all providers of technology for educational systems, to enable information to flow easily between systems.

Standards required by educational domains

Several standards are required to better meet the needs of educational institutions. These standards should specify how the different systems within these domains share and exchange information within the domain, but also across the domains.

“When systems within these domains have standardized their models for sharing, exchanging and governing data, we are more likely to get equal high-quality education for all,’ said Overby.

The four domains include:

1) School Administrative Systems (SAS) – systems used to manage all educators, learners, their classes and subjects, as well as most administrative information governing the educational institution.

2) Learning Management Systems (LMS) – systems used by educators to manage the work of learners, tasks they are assigned and submissions dates. The LMS also contains information about the learning paths of the individual learner and the resources they should access to meet the expected learning outcome.

3) Digital Learning Resources (DLR) – resources accessed by learners to access the knowledge and insights required to acquire new skills and competencies. DLRs are usually designed to meet knowledge requirements as specified in different national curricula. They exist in many variants (plain text files, complex VR models).

4) Pedagogical Learning Services (PLS) – services that guide and support educational institutions to ensure that educators reach their learning and educational goals. Some examples include learning analytics and collaborative services which support learners.

About ICSD

The International Conference on Sustainable Development (ICSD) provides academia, government, civil society, UN agencies, and the private sector with the opportunity to share practical solutions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The ICSD 2020 covered diverse topics, such as education, job opportunities and clean energy transition, multilateral financing for SDGs in Africa and Asia (examples), climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction for cities, waste management and the circular economy and much more.



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