Full interoperability means that all computer systems used by higher education institutions can seamlessly exchange machine-readable data among themselves to manage Erasmus+ inter-institutional agreements and learning agreements. This is one of the top priorities for the Erasmus Without Paper (EWP) Network by the end of 2022.
In summer 2022, the European Commission and the Erasmus Without paper Consortium initiated an Interoperability Reinforcement Plan with the aim to tackle issues reported by stakeholders and achieve full interoperability of inter-institutional agreements and learning agreements by the end of the year.
Tackling network difficulties
Making computer systems exchange context-sensitive data is a formidable challenge. It requires an entire community of diverse technical stakeholders and international relations officers to work closely together.
Many higher education institutions have already made tremendous efforts and huge progress towards this goal. However, there is an emerging consensus amongst the EWP community that a more ruled-based environment would be necessary for seamless data exchanges.
The action plan entails critical steps for EWP in key areas to achieve full interoperability. These are:
- clarifying and publishing minimum business requirements to establish shared understanding amongst end users and developers
- identify interoperability issues in earlier stages and proactively debug them
- enhancing test protocols with involvement of end users
- prepare technical tools to automatically log communication errors in the EWP Network
No end users left behind
Better and more streamlined support for end users is the goal of this part of the action plan. This requires additional communication and outreach efforts and increased support.
To meet these needs, the EWP consortium has worked on the following:
- expanding the ESCI Service Desk to all users with interoperability issues (irrespective the tools they are using)
- organising Town Hall meetings with end users
- establishing system-specific business user groups where users can exhange information
- preparing an EWP Assessment Report on the current status of implementation of EWP across the higher education community
Enhanced cooperation with third-party providers
Third party providers and in-house system operators also need to be active to help overcome current challenges. To enable better cooperation between all providers the following actions are implemented:
- more guidance and support for the technical community
- workshops where technical team members can peer-review EWP specifications
- relationship managers to focus on enhanced cooperation
Third party providers and in-house systems will need to commit to support the actions described above. All the actions taken together should have a direct positive impact on the EWP user experience.
Catch up on the action plan
The Interoperability Reinforcement Plan was presented during a webinar in June, and an update provided some of its outcomes in a webinar in November. You can find a recording, along with other resources, on the ESCI YouTube channel
Source: European Commission I Erasmus+ (https://bit.ly/3giO51G)