Today, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) launches its first developer hub, a dedicated space for centralizing our developer resources, documenting open government efforts at the agency, and celebrating what you have built using ED data and code.
Work began last year to redesign how the Department engages technologists. Partnering with 18F, the federal government’s digital consultancy agency, ED’s open data initiative, InformED, developed a two-pronged approach to better serve developers: (1) establish a presence on Github and (2) create a central location for developer-focused content.
What We’ve Built (And Why)
When we started developing the hub, we wanted to address a few outstanding needs.
First, we needed to organize and grow our selection of open source projects and APIs. For some time, the College Scorecard API and code repository were all that we could feature. To expand our offerings, 18F helped us set up an instance of their open source project, AutoAPI, an API engine that converts flat files into a web service. That technology gives ED a simple and easy way to deliver more APIs. We used it to create a set of My Brother’s Keeper APIs and Civil Rights Data Collection APIs, providing additional access points to compelling student equity data. Now centrally located and documented, these resources (and those to come) will be more discoverable and easier to use.
Next, we needed to consolidate news on how ED is working to improve education’s digital landscape and access to federal education data. The hub’s News section is where we can share information about the progress of open government innovation at ED. By cataloguing our successes here, the public can better understand what we’ve done—and what more we have to do. We hope this cache of stories will support ongoing conversations about the importance of open data and embracing digital technology.
Finally, we needed a space to highlight the work of developers who have used ED’s resources to bring incredible ideas to life. The hub’s interactive app gallery allows you to explore how others are translating federal education resources and data into actionable tools for a wide range of users. Take a look and get inspired!
Development of the hub took several months. By incorporating only openly licensed components, such as the source code for CFPB’s brilliant developer hub, we saved resources and time. It also ensures that internal and external users can repurpose what we have built however they see fit.
We’re Just Beginning… And We Need You!
These are foundational efforts. At launch, our catalog of ED APIs and open source components is limited—but will expand with your help. In launching a developer hub and Github account, ED sees the beginning of a stronger, more collaborative relationship with the developer community.
ED hopes these platforms grow to reflect what you, the user, would like to see from them. We want your feedback. Tell us what APIs you would like to see and your ideas for improving our datasets and documentation. We’re listening. Help us build a better partnership, so that we can build a better world for students—together!
InformED is the U.S. Department of Education’s primary open data initiative whose mission is to establish a world-class open data infrastructure at ED.