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Learning your ABCs using APIs – APIs in Education

By Alan Glickenhouse posted Thu May 28, 2015 01:14 PM

Education is a team sport. Students, Teachers and Parents are the primary players, but more and more providing better equipment (tools, techniques, and data) to the team will achieve better results. Facilitating collaboration, access to information, and analytics as to what works and what doesn’t on an individual basis are the new tools being provided through APIs to enhance success in education – both for the students and the businesses that support education.

ABC and API blocksSo, let’s explore how APIs are used in the Education industry. Once again I’ll use the structure I previously introduced (here).

Mobile App Development – Common mobile capabilities provided by Education companies include:

  • Basic APIs – class offerings and descriptions, content repositories, support researchers or students with searchSmartphone book concept

  • Custom APIs: schedule management/planning, financial aid, payments, analytics to drive personalized instruction. Correlate student strengths and projected workforce needs, then assign learning pathways, personalized employment support.

  • Mobile advantages include anywhere/anytime instruction

Education businesses can use APIs to create an exceptional student experience by making learning more personalized, collaborative and mobile, ensuring outcomes are optimized and that graduates and unemployed receive the career support they need to succeed in the work place.

What APIs are available today in Education? Here are just a few samples of public APIs:

  • Mendeley - is a platform that allows scholars from all over the world to collaborate, and opens up science for everyone. If you’re inspired to contribute to our mission to build tools to make researchers’ lives easier, we’d love you to join our API community.

  • Education.com - SchoolFinder API gives you FREE school data on more than 130,000 public and private K-12 schools across the U.S. states. Use this API to get comprehensive information about a school's academic performance, test scores, student demographics, teacher statistics, and reviews from parents.

  • Quizlet Flashcards – lets developers use Quizlet's vast database of over 200 million flashcards covering every possible subject. The Quizlet API lets users search, download, edit and upload flashcard sets for use in their own applications. Developers can also mark sets as favorites (which show up on the website), create, edit and join groups that can be used for grouping both classmates and sets. Developers can also search for definitions and more.

  • Versal Gadget - is an open publishing platform designed to transform online learning from passive presentations into interactive online educational experiences, without requiring coding experience. Using the Versal platform, teachers and subject matter experts can share their knowledge using a creation canvas, gadget architecture, open APIs, and flexible embedding options.

Besides creating Mobile Apps for their customers, there are many other areas where APIs can provide value for Education companies.

education_employmentPartnering – Support the ability to provide cross-offers for education from/to other educators. Provide support for researchers to access education materials.

Prepare students for post-education employment by partnering with HR companies. Integrate education offerings with the employment opportunities that would need that type of education. And in reverse, support employers finding students with the correct education background. Create Apps that compare job needs with curriculum and classes taken.


Public APIs – In addition to the typical product comparison type use cases, it is becoming more and more common to see cloud based education offerings. cloudbased-tools
Sample education modules could be provided to demonstrate offerings.


Parent-teacher-ConferenceSocial – Providing collaboration (student/parents/teachers) in a social network can support all parties in ensuring student progress.

Between teachers, a social network can create a collaborative teaching and learning environment to improve interaction, engagement, and sharing of best practices.

Encouraging student achievements and learning through gamification or contests is also possible using APIs.

Integration with Linkedin for business interactions is also most often done through APIs.

Devices –The use of alternative devices can support education, and communicating with the devices will be done through APIs. Not all students learn best in a traditional devicesclassroom. Using devices to provide alternate learning modes or support students with disabilities can facilitate learning.

In the future classrooms will learn students, providing the appropriate learning environment for each student. APIs to drive the classroom adaptive capabilities and sensors (also using APIs) to identify each student would be an approach to making this happen.


Data – Analytics are used to gather data from social, mobile, and student achievements based on instruction type. The analytics can then be used to assist teachers in providing the most effective approach to educate. Analytics accessed through APIs can provide predictive modeling for students at risk and provide teacher insight into student progress.learningAnalytics_Chalkboard1

Education companies use APIs to drive student success and success for their own business. APIs are used to promote a positive student experience and assist the teachers in delivering education in the mode that will be most effective. To achieve this success you should always put controls around the APIs so that you know who uses the APIs and how much and can map this to the results. With that visibility, you can use the analytics to determine which techniques are working and which are not.


Connect with me through comments here or via twitter @Arglick to continue the discussion.   You can also read my earlier blogs.

1 comment



Tue July 12, 2016 07:00 AM

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[…] year IBM showcased a few interesting EdTech APIs, one of which is called Mendeley. While the app itself is used […]