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
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
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.