Instructure Co-Founder: APIs in Ed Tech will provide open dialogue

Brian Whitmer, co-founder of Instructure, at InstructureCon 2013

By Joey Ferguson

Brian Whitmer, co-founder of Instructure, at InstructureCon 2013[/caption]

PARK CITY — Education technology experts at InstructureCon 2013 said learning software needs to be more open, and technology like APIs can facilitate the change.

InstructureCon is an educational technology event hosted by Instructure that focuses on the companies Canvas learning management system used by grade schools and universities.

Audrey Watters, education freelance writer, at InstructureCon 2013A panel of education and technology experts, including Instructure co-founder Brian Whitmer, spoke about the need for open dialogue in the industry.

The panel included Kin Lane, an API evangelist in the education technology, Audrey Watters, an industry writer, and Brian Whitmer, co-founder of Instructure.

All three panelists compared old learning management systems as a “walled garden,” or a software system where the provider blocks any outside access through tools like APIs.

“The technology has changed,” education writer Audrey Watters said during the keynote presentation. “We no longer need to think of learning and the LMS in this sort of model.”

Kin Lane, a former IT director for SAP, spoke about the importance of the API during the keynote presentation.

Kin Lane, API evangelist, at InstructureCon 2013APIs allow for transparency and easy sharing of data while maintaining strict privacy standards in the education sector, Lane said.

Brian Whitmer also chimed in about openness in the ed tech sector.

“This idea that you have one company that can solve all of your problems just doesn’t make sense,” Whitmer said. “No company is going to build a better Google Docs than what Google built. Instead, what needs to happen on the Internet is the idea of interplay and interoperability to make it possible for people to leverage best-of-breed solutions wherever they exist.”

Educators should increase pressure to use APIs and integrate more with other companies and solutions, Whitmer said.

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