What is an API ?

We often rely on others to perform functions that we are not able or allowed to do by ourselves. In the same way, all software has to request other software to do some things for it. This is where Application Programming Interfaces (API) comes in. The asking program uses the API that have been defined for the program being called upon to perform basic functions such as assessing the file system.

How is it useful in Education?

APIs are used to promote a positive student experience and assist the teachers in delivering education in the mode that will be most effective. Social network is an essential feature for collaboration between the teachers, students and the parents, which can be done through API. By creating a collaborative teaching and learning environment, it could improve the interaction, engagement and tracking of students’ progress. Moreover, APIs provide support for students with disabilities by facilitating communication between devices which will make learning easier for them. However, there is still an absence of APIs from various education applications. Thus, there need to be more awareness of the possibilities that APIs offer in learning.

Khan Academy API

Khan Academy is a non-profit educational organization created in 2006 by educator Salman Khan. The site provides free, online education with contains thousands of online videos covering various subjects. It is strongly supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and won the Google 10 to the 100 award giving them 2 million dollars. Khan Academy has expanded from just creating videos to include a whole platform through which students can move through the content, including analytics for teachers and parents to track them. Moreover, in order to motivate students, Khan Academy has included one of the most common features of Web 2.0 apps; which are badges.

Like in everything, one will always find opposition and criticism. We often hear criticism that Khan Academy’s encouragement to complete material may be for the sake of badges, rather than for the sake of learning itself. Moreover, in one of Clive Thompson’s articles, he cited Gary Stager and Sylvia Martinez when they said that Khan Academy is going against the theory of Constructivism. They outlined the "idea that students won't really understand math unless they discover each principle on their own."


Classroom API

The Classroom API is a Google developer API, which helps non-Google services benefit from the capabilities of Google’s tools and infrastructure. By using Classroom API, administrators can build various tools to make schools work better. For such an example; creating classes to scale for teachers, add students, synchronize with student information systems, and see all the classes being taught in their domain.

What you can do and see via this API depends on if you’re a student, teacher or administrator. A student can only view basic information about their classes and they cannot view or share information about other students in their classes. A teacher can only see his/her classes. He/she can create, view or delete their classes and can view, add or remove students and additional teachers from his/her classes. Lastly, an administrator can create, view or delete any class in their Google Apps for Education domain and also can add or remove any student or teacher from any class.