Echo is capable of syncing user accounts, courses, and enrollments from the data stored in your school's student information system (SIS). Echo supports the automated syncing of users, courses, enrollments, and observers through the IMS OneRoster specification. This article answers common questions about Echo's OneRoster SIS sync solution. For instructions on setting up a OneRoster SIS sync, see the OneRoster Setup Guide.
How does Echo's SIS Sync feature work?
A file is exported from the school's SIS is uploaded to Echo. The file can be uploaded manually or sent to Echo via FTP. Echo processes the file to mirror the data in the SIS so that they are in sync. The file sent to Echo must be formated to the OneRoster specifications in order to be processed.
What is OneRoster?
OneRoster is not a product you can buy. It is not a software application or technology. Instead, it's a specification for standardizing data that software and technology companies can use to make sure their software can exchange data with other software. When syncing user data using CSV files, the OneRoster standard specifies the column headers and the type of data that can be provided in the columns. For example, the column header for the the user's first name is specified as "givenName" by OneRoster, and the column header for the user's last name is "familyName". The standard was created and is managed by the IMS Global Learning Consortium. The standard is often used to sync data between student information systems (SIS), learning management systems (LMS), and other learning tools. For this document, the LMS is Echo and the SIS is your school or district's student information system.
What does the OneRoster integration sync?
When enabled in Echo and your SIS, the OneRoster sync can keep Echo updated with any changes made in the SIS. The sync can create, update, and delete various entities shared with Echo. Specifically, these entities include:
- Organizations: District and school domains
- Users: Students, teachers, school and district admins
- Courses: The course offerings available in your district (base courses)
- Classes: The classes/sections that teachers and student are enrolled in (derivative courses)
- Enrollments: Student and teacher enrollments
- Observers: Parents, guardians, and relatives
What data is synced with Echo is dependent on what data the SIS has been configured to share with Echo. For example, you could choose to share only user data with Echo and let teachers manage their own course creation and enrollments.
How often is the OneRoster integration sync run?
The frequency of syncing is determined by the school. Echo will process the data within minutes after the OneRoster file as been uploaded. Typically, school send an upload file every 24 hours. Usually in the early hours of the morning when users are not likely to be using Echo or the SIS. More frequent syncing may be desired in first weeks of a new school year when the SIS is being updated frequently.
Is My Student Information System (SIS) Compatible With OneRoster?
Each SIS is different and they have varying degrees of compatibility with OneRoster. You will need to contact your SIS provider's documentation to understand how you can best move forward integrating Echo with your SIS. Here are three different possible scenarios.
Native Compatibility: The SIS has pre-built reports aligned with the OneRoster specifications and FTP functionality that allows the SIS to send and receive data to and from Echo. This generally makes it very easy to set up an integration.
Customized Reporting: Most SISs allow schools to build their own custom reports and exports. If your SIS has this functionality, you can create your own exports that meet the OneRoster specifications. Once the reports are generated, they can be sent to Echo via FTP to sync the data.
Third Party Tool: In some cases, SISs have overly simple exporting tools and require that you use a separate tool to extract the user, course, and enrollment data using a third party software. These tools can act as a bridge between your SIS and Echo.
What if I have existing users, courses and enrollments in my Echo domain.
It is possible to align existing data in Echo with your SIS, however we strongly recommend initiating the sync during periods when school is not in session (i.e. summer vacation or winter break).
When run for the first time, the OneRoster integration will create all new users, courses and enrollments UNLESS the External ID field of each is updated to match the
sourcedId found on the OneRoster .csv files produced by the SIS. Typically, this procedure would only be used for existing user accounts so that they continue to have access to prior courses and enrollments. Best practice is to let the sync generate new courses and enrollments in Echo rather than attempting to match them.
See "How do I preserve existing users when initiating a OneRoster sync for the first time?" for more information.
What if I delete a user, course, or enrollment from my SIS?
What happens if you delete something in your SIS depends on how the sync settings are configured. If a user, course, or enrollment was created by the SIS sync and then deleted in the SIS, the following will happen:
Users that exist in Echo but not in your SIS can either be automatically deleted, left in place, or marked inactive.
Course that exist in Echo but not in your SIS can either be deleted or left alone
Enrollments that exist in Echo but not in your SIS can either be deleted, left alone, marked as inactive, or marked as withdrawn.
If a user, course, or enrollment was created manually in Echo, it is not tied to the SIS sync and will be ignored.
What if I have two classes in the SIS, but are taught as one class?
When the SIS sync is enabled, the courses will reflect exactly what is in the SIS. If the combined courses exist in the SIS, they will be matched in Echo. However, many school combine courses in the classroom, but leave them separate in the SIS. In these cases, the school may want to retain the flexibility by not syncing course data with Echo or by manually creating combined courses outside the sync process. This would require teachers to manually manage enrollments and enter grades into the SIS.
Can I create users, courses, or enrollments manually in Echo when the sync is active?
Yes, any users, courses, or enrollments created manually in Echo will be ignored by the OneRoster Synce (as long as the External Id doesn't start with "or-" which flags the item as managed by the OneRoster Sync).
Will the OneRoster Sync create base courses and derivatives.
Yes, the sync can create base and derivative courses depending on the sync settings established in your Echo domain settings. By default, the sync will create:
Domain Base Course: For each course title (i.e. Physics, Language Arts 11, Health, 3rd Grade), the sync will create a base course that can be used to distribute content to each teacher's base course. The domain base course creation can be disabled in the sync settings.
Teacher Base Course: Teachers will get their own base course for each subject (course title) they teacher. The teacher base course is a derivative of the domain base course. A new teacher base course will be created for each term unless this is disabled in the sync settings.
Teacher Class Course: For each section/class the teacher has, the sync will create a course and enroll the students. The teacher class course is a derivative of the domain base course.
Can I change information created by the OneRoster integration?
No. When you change some information that is managed by the integration, it will likely be reverted the next time the sync runs. For example, if you manually change a user’s first name in Echo from “Bradley” to “Brad,” it will revert back to “Bradley” the next time the sync runs if the user’s first name is Bradley according to the OneRoster zip file.
Any changes should be managed in your school's SIS. Changes to these fields will automatically be reflected in Echo upon the next sync.
Can the OneRoster sync send grades back to the SIS?
The OneRoster standard does include specifications for sending course grades back to the student information system. However, very few student information systems have opened the application to allow this functionality. If your system allows it, please contact the Echo team for more information.
How do I get started syncing my SIS to Echo?
To understand the steps required to initiate a sync between your SIS and Echo, see the OneRoster SIS Sync Setup Guide