Echo can be configured to sync with any student information system that is compatible with the OneRoster standard and that can send the OneRoster exports to Echo via FTP. This article describes the steps to test and then implement the sync.
Before you begin, confirmed that your SIS is capable of exporting a OneRoster data file that meets the v1.1 specifications. The specifications are fairly strict and can be found here - https://www.imsglobal.org/oneroster-v11-final-csv-tables.
Step One: Getting Organized
- Read the OneRoster FAQ to learn about what the sync does and if it will meet your needs.
- Confirm that your student information system is capable of (a) producing an export compatible with the OneRoster Standard, and (b) is capable of automatically generating and sending the file via FTP.
- Manually export the OneRoster file from your SIS to use as a reference. Be sure to limit the export to just the school(s) that should be synced with Echo. You can elect to share:
- Just Users: Adds newly enrolled students, but teachers still create courses and enroll students. This offers the most flexibility with unusual course configurations such as combined courses.
- Users and Courses: Simplifies course setup for teachers, but still requires teachers to manually enroll students or use enrollment codes.
- Users, Courses and Enrollments: Fully automates the process but limits flexibility from what is reflected in the SIS data.
- Download the OneRoster template file to use a reference.
Step Two: Obtain a Sandbox Domain
Contact the Echo Support team (1) requesting a sandbox domain to run tests against, (2) identifying the person or persons who will be testing the sync.
You will be provide the following information to the school
- URL for sandbox domain
- Instructions for logging into the sandbox
Step Three: Run and Verify The Data in the Sandbox
The sandbox domain mimics your district domain in Echo. Because your sandbox empty, the first time the sync runs, it will create new subdomains for each school, new user accounts, new base and derivative courses and new enrollments. Although the ultimate goal is to automate the sync, during the first test, it's best to manually upload the data so that you can quickly verify it is accurately reflecting what you desire. If necessary, you can delete all imported data and run it again.
- Configure the sync settings in the sandbox domain. If you have questions about the various configuration options, submit a support request through the Echo Help Desk.
- Using the OneRoster export you created in Step One, manually upload the OneRoster .zip file.
- In Echo, verify the data.
- Subdomains were created for each school with a product Echo domain (no extra schools being synced).
- User accounts are created in the correct domain(s).
- Users are granted appropriate permissions.
- If courses are synced, courses are created in the correct domains with correct start and end dates
- If enrollments are synced, the correct students are enrolled in each course with correct start and end dates.
Note: It is very common to see issues when importing the data for the first time. Often, student information systems contain data not meant to be synced (old user accounts, unused placeholder courses, etc.). Echo is going to replicate everything that is shared with it through the .csv files in the OneRoser .zip file. You will likely need to clean up data in your SIS and/or make adjustments to what is exported by your SIS.
Step Four: Test the Automated Sync
Once you are confident the data is syncing accurately with Echo, you may want to test the automated sync by configuring your student information system to use the FTP upload. You can find the FTP address in your SIS sync settings control panel.
Step Five: Preparing for Syncing to Live Environment
Before syncing with an existing Echo domain, you must update data in Echo to prevent duplication. If this is not done correctly, the OneRoster sync will create ALL NEW user accounts, courses, and enrollments based on the data in your SIS.
The sync uses Echo's External ID field as it's key. To sync with live data, the External ID field must be updated for any element (domain, user, course, enrollment) that will be synced. If the sync doesn't find a match, it will create new items. In most cases, you have an existing domain(s) with users and courses. For information on how to update your existing data before the sync is activated, see "How do I prepare my Echo domain for the OneRoster SIS Sync when I have existing data?"
Although it is possible to enable the sync at anytime, we strongly recommend that you only do so between school years. By updating the existing user's External ID and then letting the sync create the new courses and enrollments, you can me more assured of a smooth implementation and users would still have access to prior courses.
To prepare your live environment for the sync:
- Submit a support request to the Echo team for the following:
- Update the External ID for the district and schools to match what was imported into the sandbox.
- Update the SIS sync settings in the district domain to match what you configured in your sandbox domain.
- Create a new OneRoster sync account in the district domain and grant it full Administrator permissions. This is important to prevent a disrupting in case the EA leaves the school and their account is deleted.
- Update the External ID for all users to match what was imported into the sandbox. The sync will create new accounts for any students in your SIS that are not already in Echo.
- If syncing to existing courses and enrollments, update the External ID for all courses and enrollments to match what was generated in the sandbox domain. NOTE: This is a lot of work and we don't recommend it. Better to wait until the new school year and allow the sync to create all new courses and enrollments.
As a final step, have the Echo Team conduct a review to confirm fields have been updated properly and that the sync is ready to run against production.
Redirecting Sync to Production Domains
When existing data has been updated and verified by NTN to match imported data ...
- Log into the district domain using the OneRoster Admin credentials provided by the Echo Team.
- Update your SIS settings using the FTP address found in the SIS Sync control panel.
- Wait for the sync to run and verify the data.
Echo is constantly being improved based on the feedback from users and we strive to keep our documentation up to date. If this document doesn’t match what you are seeing in Echo, please let us know.