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In our opinion, the API is the second most important feature of our AVETMISS Student Management System. But not many of our customers know what it is or why they need it. In this article we will explain the API and how it helps RTOs to be successful.
What is the API
Almost all the API definitions you’ll find will talk about software applications and programmers. The acronym stands for: Application Program Interface. In simple terms, it provides your RTO with a secure window to the data held in your student management system. Like any window, you can push things through it, i.e. adding or modifying your student records; and you can pull things through it, i.e. getting your student records.
Why is the API the second most important feature?
The most important is of course your student records, i.e. your data. But if you have API-access to all your data you’re in control. You could potentially bypass your student management system and replace it completely with whatever system works for your business. Many cookie-cutter student management systems assume that all RTOs are the same. They assume that you all do the same thing, with the same data, in the same way. If that were true you would have no point-of-difference. Why would your clients choose you over your competitors? On the other hand, a completely customised system could cost you more than 100 times more than a cookie-cutter option. And that’s just to get to first base. You’d then have to maintain the software through each of the many AVETMISS, ASQA, RTO changes. Expensive!
So, if a cookie-cutter SMS offers no flexibility, and a custom SMS is out of your price range, what are your options?
This is where the power of the API comes into it’s own. Once you connect to the API you’ll be able to:
- Use MS Excel to create custom reports
- Create and update student records using your own custom forms
- Present live student and course data on your website
- Use your website to host enrolment and enquiry forms
- Exchange student data with other business systems like Office 365, Salesforce, or Success Factors
- Share your data with your partner organisations
- Create connected customer web and desktop application in-house with MS Access, web pages etc
- Build powerful dashboards with Power BI
- Create custom workflows and notifications
These are all tasks that your resources can perform in-house. Any professional web developer, or administrators with a little “technical nous” would only need the documentation and a bit of vendor support. But the key benefit is that it gives you flexibility and its way more cost effective than custom design.
What do you need to get started?
We provide you with the tools:
- Secure API Access
- Test resources
Here is a custom report example:
Using the API to Create a Custom Report
This example uses Microsoft Excel to Display student results. Connecting and using APIs involve very straightforward web addresses (URLs). The URL tells the server:
- Your access security credentials
- What records you want to fetch, add or update
- What you want to do with the records: e.g. get a specific set of records of fields
Example URL: https://rto-name.bluegem.com.au/api/odata4/
- Open Excel
- Select the DATA tab, choose New Query and select Other Sources > Odata
- Enter the URL and access credentials
- Retrieve the data
- Excel will show a list of tables and views that you can connect to
- Select the tables and expand each to select the fields you want in your report
- Click Apply and Close
- After a few second the data will be displayed in in an Excel Worksheet
- Now you can execute the many Excel functions to create your report with pivot tables and charts
- Once your report has been created you can refresh the data to get latest changes and share it
Contact us to learn more about how to perform other API functions in Bluegem such as workflows, notifications, form handling, and custom applications. We can also put you in touch with web designers in your area who can help you implement API driven custom functionality.
About the Author
Bruno Cozzi and his team have spent the last 20 years designing and developing effective workplace learning management solutions. The diverse mix of skills developed during his career can't be acquired in any academic program.
He has a thorough understanding and in-depth knowledge of the vocational education sector and all the related compliance reporting standards.
Cozzi and his team are experts in the delivery of learning and development cloud-based technologies, web applications and web services.
That requires extensive knowledge of eLearning, virtual classroom and blended learning technologies and standards.
His corporate systems background adds the all-important dimension of business system integration, in a world that demands privacy, data protection, high performance, zero downtime, and user friendly interfaces that work across all devices.
But perhaps his most enduring quality is an outstanding ability to distill complex concepts and technologies into highly accessible and simple working solutions.