What is LISS

LISS = Lightweight Interoperability Standard for Schools.

LISS is an interoperability standard designed for K-12 schools, to connect Timetable applications and other applications to Student Information Systems / School Admin Systems. It is a web-based protocol based on JSON, (or XmlRpc, although XmlRpc is discouraged). The goal is that the combined system should act semantically as if it was a single system i.e. with changes propagated in near-real time, even if there are different look and feels in use.

LISS puts the SIS (Student Information System) in the centre of all communication: the SIS is the hub, and other systems such as timetabling or attendance software are at the spokes. The SIS usually takes the role of the server, and therefore must provide HTTP end-points (URL's), and the timetabling software takes the role of client, and therefore initiates all pull & push requests. But LISS does also operate bi-directionally too, but by flipping 'who is client' vs server.

How does LISS relate to SIF?

For the past two decades, many timetabling software applications have been happily interoperating with SIS's using .csv files. LISS is not very different to the idea of putting these .csv files into a web service.

LISS was developed in response to SIF, because the original complexity of SIF was so high that few companies could afford the development effort to implement it. However, since then, SIF 3.0 has been released which is a simpler protocol, a REST/JSON based protocol.

An article on the comparison between LISS & SIF has been published by Education Technology Solutions, issue 42. or p1, p2, p3.

What is the process for achieving Compliance?

There is no formal process for achieving compliance. In order to advertise "LISS Compliance" you must implement the basic features, or whatever subset of them your customers will expect from you. There is a bit more info on what is expected of you in section 1.4 of the specifications.

What is the cost of LISS?

There is no cost for LISS. The LISS alliance specifically promotes an open (yet secure) flow of educational data between systems, with no prohibitive barriers, either technical, or financial. The LISS ethos is that schools own their data, and it should be free to transfer as best suits. Competition between vendors should be on features and service and marketing, but NOT on walled gardens that lock data into proprietary formats, have fees for schools, or fees for other vendors to connect.

Some providers in global education markets levy high fees to vendors who want to integrate with them, or require purchase of full and expensive licenses to their platform, which may not be otherwise needed. Some vendors charge a per-school fee to vendors for 'integration'. Some charge schools themselves such a fee. LISS does not, and strongly discourages this ethos. It is viewed by the LISS alliance as anti-competitive and restrictive, stifling innovation, blocking smaller start-ups while favouring large incumbents, and not in the best interests of the education technology space.

With LISS, data should always be secure, but always be free.