The Best APIs in Education

GUEST COLUMN | by Adam Gordon

The folks behind Noodle are particularly excited by available open educational resources and we’d like to share what we’ve found. You’ll learn what an API is, why APIs are important, and what our favorite open APIs for educators are.

API stands for Application Programming Interface. APIs are what allow web applications to communicate/coordinate/share information/etc. from the databases of any two given websites.

For example, if Facebook and Twitter didn’t offer APIs, you’d only be able to log into Facebook at Facebook.com and you’d only be able to see your tweets on Twitter. However, thanks to these APIs you can log into everything from Stumbleupon to Pinterest and Noodle.

On that note, APIs are incredibly valuable for education. Being able to share data about student progress levels, education resources, and classroom ideas means that everyone learns more—whether it’s a teacher sharing instructional videos with her classroom, or a branch of government trying to allocate funds for its education budget.

The White House recently gathered a number of education professionals to brainstorm how to put education data to use to better help students, educators and governments. Noodle was proud to take part. While the White House’s initiative is underway, we decided we want to help other educators find APIs that might be helpful to them.

Check out our list of open education-related APIs and please contact us if you know of any resources we’ve missed. We want the directory to be a collaborative project so don’t hesitate to get in touch!

In the meantime, here are 10 of our favorites from the list:

Khan Academy
An online learning and instruction platform (non-profit) used to provide a well rounded education. Created by Salman Khan, this collection of over 1,600 videos provides knowledge in many subjects including math, history, and science. This API provides a free resource to the Khan Academy databases and allows the user to share the information given on the site. Access the API here.

Blackboard Collaborate
An online learning platform which uses interactive software to bring people virtual classrooms, instant messaging with teachers and students, and web conferences around the world. This API allows developers of sites to merge Blackboard Collaborate with any LMS, CMS, VLE or portal. Access the API here.

Data.ed.gov
Data.ed.gov is a website that provides information about the Department of Education grants. This API provides Datasets, and performance statistics from public K-12 schools. The website is part of the Open Government Initiative. Access the API here

Knewton
Knewton has adapted their learning platform to the individual students needs, providing customized courses in SAT, GMAT, LSAT. This API allows developers to retrieve Knewton’s own data for other applications and applications, such as grading and teaching procedures which can adapt to the students needs or demands.
Access the API here.

EnGrade
EnGrade connects 3.1 million administrators, teachers, students, and parents. Using online classroom tools such as gradebook, secure messaging, homework calendar, online quizzes, and flashcards. This API allows developers to merge class management tools and accommodate students, with a student reference page. Access the API here.

Clever
Clever is a data organization tool. Helps developers for software and school administration, this API provides data processing, organizing, integration, and security for student information, it also provides information retrieval functionalities. Access the API here.

Europeana
Europeana allows the exploration of digital resources of Europe’s museums, libraries, archives and audio-visual collections. This API allows users to develop apps that could display collections of Europeana metadata. Access the API here.

Schoology
This is a learning management system and social network that makes it easy to create and share academic content used throughout the K-12 levels and also in higher learning. This API allows developers to track users, and students data and usage and recycle that information for other sites. Access the API here.

WorldCat
WorldCat is a collection of over 72,000 libraries from over 170 countries. This API allows the application to search the WorldCat catalog this contains thousands of member libraries around the globe this contains bibliographic records, individual records discover books, videos, music, electronic content. Access the API here.

Library of Congress
The US national library, in Washington, DC. One of the greatest and largest Library collections on earth serves as the U.S official library and research center. The API uses methods of Search/Retrieve via URL which is a standard search protocol for Internet search queries. Access the API here.

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Adam Gordon works at Noodle Education, “the first and only lifelong education-related search company in the world” where the goal is to provide a recommendation engine to help anyone find educational opportunities at all levels, from K-12 to college, grad school, weekend classes, and professional development. Check Noodle out on Twitter here or on Facebook here.

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