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Open Knowledge Initiative

Common Services Press Release

December 20, 2001

The Open Knowledge Initiative (O.K.I.) has seen significant progress towards its goal of defining open architectural specifications for the development of educational applications and learning management systems. The project has also received considerable and growing interest over the past few months from commercial and institutional developers eager to begin assessing these specifications for use in building such applications and systems.

It is against this backdrop that O.K.I. is pleased to announce it has begun the process of releasing its Common Service Application Programming Interface (API) definitions. This work is the result of considerable activity over the past 6 months by the architectural team at MIT along with core collaborators from other educational institutions and organizations

O.K.I. is taking a layered approach to its architectural specification, defining a clean set of boundaries between the various required components that traditionally support educational applications. At the lowest level of functionality O.K.I. is building on existing work, at its partner institutions and elsewhere, to define a layer of "Common Services" that include authentication, authorization, rules management, logging, globally unique identifier (GUID) management, user messaging, database management, file management, and related common objects. Over the course of the next two months the O.K.I. project will be making these common service level API definitions publicly available.

APIs provide consistent definitions for how educational applications interact with services and allow the development of these applications to flourish unconstrained by variations of technology.

O.K.I. considers this level of the architectural framework to be "common" in that the services specified are not unique to course management, learning management, or educational applications. Among other benefits, these services will help institutions to share such applications and to integrate these applications with existing institutional infrastructure.

Work is also progressing on the higher levels of the O.K.I. architecture and API descriptions relating to educational functionalities including content management, course management and assessment. This work draws upon a great deal of mature activity in the Learning Management Systems arena as well as extensive engagement with various educational technology communities. To this end O.K.I. is also working with the IMS Global Learning Consortium and the Advanced Distributed Learning Network (see related press release). We expect these specifications to become available in the spring.

The Open Knowledge Initiative (O.K.I.) addresses a critical need in higher education: meaningful, coherent, modular, easy-to-use internet-based environments, for assembling, delivering and accessing educational resources. MIT leads this project, which includes significant effort from core collaborating institutions, O.K.I. is funded in part by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


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